MBB Position Preview: Returning forwards look to step into key roles

Kevin Williams

POSITION PREVIEW NO. 1: GUARDS

HCAC PRESEASON POLL

HANOVER, Ind. – The 2018-19 Hanover men's basketball season will tip off next week and to celebrate we close our positional preview series with the returning forwards and centers.

The Panthers are coming off a 2017-18 season that saw the program go 22-7 overall and 14-4 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. Hanover won the HCAC regular season and tournament titles, while also logging an appearance in the NCAA Division III National Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Recently, the Blue and Red were picked by the conference coaches to finish third in the league this winter. Hanover received 80 points in the preseason coaches poll, while also tallying two first place votes. The Panthers are also in the receiving votes category for D3hoops.com's national preseason top 25 poll.

After losing key pieces to graduation in Wes McKinney and Colin Smith, Hanover will be looking to fill their roles this season.

"With the graduation of Wes and Colin it will be real important for our team that we find some guys that can step in and provide some consistent play in these areas," stated head coach Jon Miller, who is entering his 11th season at the helm of his alma mater.

Juniors Ryan Cloncs (Danville, Ind.) and Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) will rely on their previous experiences as they look to take the next step this season. Cloncs has appeared in 26 games over two seasons, including 13 outings in 2017-18. As a sophomore, Cloncs, was key late in the year, playing important minutes as a reserve in the HCAC and NCAA tournaments. Highlighting his play was an 11-point performance, where he made four-of-seven field goals, while grabbing five rebounds in a conference tournament semifinal victory over Mount St. Joseph.
Williams is the most experienced post player on the 18-19 roster, as he has entered in 45 career games, including 27 of the team's 29 outings last winter. The junior averaged four points and two rebounds over 12 minutes per game last season. For his career, Williams is a 63 percent field goal shooter. The 2017-18 campaign also saw him tally a career-high performance, 11 points and seven rebounds, in a road win at Spalding (Ky.).

"Ryan really came up big for us last year in the conference tournament and hopefully he can continue this type of solid play," added coach Miller. "Kevin has given us some quality minutes over his first two seasons and both junior Christian Reed (Sellersburg, Ind.) and sophomore Connor Washburn (Fishers, Ind.) are battling to provide us some minutes and scoring inside as well."

Reed transferred into the program midway through last season and appeared in 11 games, where he shot close to 70 percent from the field. The junior had a pair of double-digit scoring performances, including a 15-point, four-rebound game against Manchester. In his two double-digit scoring efforts, Reed made 11-of-14 field goal attempts.

Washburn's initial campaign with the Blue and Red saw him check in during 10 games. Averaging five minutes per appearance, Washburn tallied 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per contest. His freshman season was highlighted by 12 points, on six-of-six shooting, against Ohio-Chillicothe.

To go along with its returners, Hanover will have a few newcomers that will also look to make an impact right away.

The Blue and Red are scheduled to open the new year at home against Spalding (Ky.), next Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Panthers and Golden Eagles are slated for a 7 p.m. tip.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu