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Merrimack Men’s Basketball Team Preview

Nasser Kiragga ‘19

Staff Writer

 

The 2018-19 schedule for the Merrimack’s Men Basketball team was recently released. The men’s squad is returning precisely 82 percent of their scoring players and eight rotational players. A majority of returning players are responsible for the success of the squad that made the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.

The Warriors will play 14 games on campus at Hammel Court, including hosting a season-opening tournament. The Warriors will open the season against Philadelphia squads, Holy Family and Jefferson.

Merrimack will opens their NE-10 conference play against foes like Assumption, Southern New Hampshire and Bentley before a trip to Florida for the Terrace Hotel classic where they’ll face Florida Southern and Saint Leo. After the Florida trip they will kick off Southwest division play battling Southern Connecticut before going home for a four-game stretch at Hammel against Pace, Le Moyne, New Haven and American International.

Merrimack’s regular season will close against Saint Michaels on Feb. 26 before postseason begins with the NE-10 Championship the following week.

Do-it-all point guard, Juvaris Hayes, was named to the preseason All-American team by Street and Smith for the second straight season. Hayes returns for his junior year campaign after leading the Warriors in points per game, steals, assists, rebounds, field goals, free throws and total points. Hayes also led the nation in steals per game, total steals and total assists.

Hayes is fresh off of passing the 1000 point mark during his sophomore year, becoming the 44th player to do so overall. At this pace, the Paterson, New Jersey, native may enter the top 25 in NCAA D-II history for career assists and career steals before this upcoming season is over with. He’s a vital key for the men’s squad’s success over the past couple years, and will look to push the team as one of the powerhouses in the NE-10.

The recent hire of Phil Gaetano as assistant coach brings experience and knowledge to the squad. Gaetano is coming from Coppin State University where his duties featured scouting and recruiting. He also was on the Maine Red Claws coaching staff in the NBA Development League (G-League). Gaetano brings experience from a range of places and his outstanding knowledge should benefit the Warriors this upcoming season.