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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

MBasketball season preview

Published: November 18, 2005
Section: Sports

First-year orientation takes place on Labor Day Weekend, but it is the Brandeis mens hoops team that is saying welcome to first-years this November.

Last years young squad has only gotten younger with the addition of five incoming freshmen. Despite having a senior-less roster with only one player of legal drinking age, the Judges will, if nothing else, fill the Gosman Arena will excitement and energy.

For starters, 66 forward Steve DeLuca 08 returns bigger and stronger with a full season under his belt. DeLuca looks to improve upon his impressive rookie season (11.8 ppg). His running mate John Sauce Saucier 08 returns after off-season knee surgery to help fill the large void in the paint left by the departure of Bryan Lambert. Saucier, who played a limited role last season due to injuries, can claim the starting center position, barring any major setbacks.

Rounding out the starting rotation is the talented guard tandem of Kwame Graves-Fulgham 08 and Florian Rexhepi 08. The sharpshooter Rexhepi is a remarkable young man from war-torn Macedonia, who claimed UAA Rookie of the Year Honors while solidifying the Judges backcourt. Graves-Fulgham led the team in assists last year and started at point guard in nearly every contest. Both Rexhepi and Graves-Fulgham will be counted upon to run the high tempo, fast paced Judges offense. Other returning veterans include the hard working crew of Joe Coppens 08, Steven Hill 08 and Rocco Toppi 08.

Both Coppens and Hill have looked very strong in the preseason, particularly from behind the arc.
The first-years come in with impressive resumes. Last winter power forward David Mael 09 earned his third league MVP crown en route to leading Brimmer and May to the NEPSAC Championship. Further up I-95, Riko Bol 09 helped lead Portland High to a state championship during his tenure there.

It is a geographically diverse first-year squad to say the least, as the 62 Huston Conti 09 brings his passing skills from Edmonds, WA.

The Judges again boast two international newcomers, Michael Dong 09 and Ido Givon 07.

Givon transferred from Seton Hill in Pittsburgh after having a strong high school career in his home town of Tel Aviv. He led his former high school team to the Israel semifinals while serving as team captain. Givon is in his mid twenties, but feels as big a part of the team chemistry as anyone. In the scrimmage this past weekend, Givon was also as big a part of the offense as anyone, lighting it upfrom outside.

Dong is excited to contribute to the Judges platoon of big men to help make up for the absence of you know who. The polite center was a member of one of the top six teams in Beijing, China last year and has worked extremely hard to polish up his game this preseason.

Finally, there is local boy Kevin Olson 09 from Rockport, MA. Olsons much-discussed forte is perimeter shooting, and understandably so. He was a perimeter stud in high school and he has been impressive in the early going. He will no doubt be expected to provide the Judges with an offensive spark off the bench.
The youngest Judges will need to adjust to Coach Meehans intense 3 hour long workouts. They face a formidable schedule with tough nonconference opponents and long road trips to Chicago, Atlanta and Pittsburgh in the second semester.

The challenges for the Judges will be for this years sophomores to teach the newcomers Coach Meehans system while playing as a cohesive unit. There is especially room for improvement in the rebounding and free throw shooting departments. Portions of the aforementioned scrimmages were filled with turnovers and defensive lapses. Theres no reason to worry in Gosman land, not with all of the young ballers this team has.

The 05-06 version of the Judges was not supposed to be so young. The twin towers of Seth Roberts 06 and Ben Reed 06 were supposed to don the Brandeis Blue for four years. Big country Pat Collier 06 was going to be an offensive stud in the UAA. For a wide variety of reasons these men along with several others are not on Meehans deep roster this season. What they lack in experience they make up for with enthusiasm and excellent team comraderie.

All they ask is for Brandeis nation to come out and support them next weekend for the annual tip-off tournament.