WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- A talented and deep roster gives the passionate Eph fan base plenty of optimism for the upcoming 2013-14 season. However, if head coach Mike Maker's team is going to return to the postseason and make yet another to Salem, the Ephs must "remain humble, hungry, and process-driven."
Maker, who is back for his sixth season (119-27, .815), returns three starters from a squad that finished 26-5 and reached the Elite Eight. Senior preseason All-Americans Michael Mayer and Taylor Epley provide the Ephs a formidable duo, while junior Daniel Wohl looks to build on a dynamic season from a year ago.
Cerebral center Michael Mayer remains a focal point for the Ephs following a sensational junior campaign that earned him All-NESCAC and All-America honors. "Michael is an ideal fit for our institution, program, and system. He possesses a unique skill set for a player his size," he said. "He plays and thinks like a guard, has exceptional footwork, great instincts, and runs the floor phenomenally well. Clearly, Michael is a special player and is among the elite players ever to play here."
Southpaw small forward Taylor Epley led the Ephs in scoring a season ago and will again be featured in Maker's hybrid offense. "Taylor's toughness combined with his skill set makes him a dangerous player and gives us a myriad of options offensively and defensively," Maker noted. "His competitiveness and willingness to take big shots puts him in elite company in Williams basketball history."
Epley and Mayer were 1-2 in scoring last season for the Ephs, with Epley netting 18.5 points per game and Mayer 17.7. Mayer also led the Ephs in rebounding with 8.7 boards per game, while shooting an 56.7 percent from the floor. Epley shot 49.5 percent, and led Williams with 81 three-pointers.
Talented 6-foot, 6-inch guard Daniel Wohl blossomed as a sophomore and gives the Ephs size, savvy, and experience in the backcourt. "Daniel is a complete player and adds so much to our program, campus, and community," Maker said.
Senior tri-captain John Weinheimer and junior Hayden Rooke-Ley add talent, experience, and veteran leadership. The 6-6 Weinheimer is a long, ultra-quick forward, while Rooke-Ley is a strong, left-handed guard. Both players are expected to challenge for a starting position and should blend well with the returning core.
Senior guard Matt McCreary, along with sophomores Luke Thoreson and Adam Harrell add depth to the Eph backcourt. Athletic forwards Greg Payton and Darrias Sime, both wide receivers on the gridiron, will join the Ephs following the football season.
A highly touted first year class will look to make an early and meaningful contribution, led by 6'7" sharpshooting forward Duncan Robinson. Heady point guard Mike Greenman and 6'5" athletic guard Daniel Aronowitz give coach Maker and his staff plenty of options.
"We hope to put a product on the floor that is aesthetically pleasing to watch — one in which our team-first approach resonates throughout our campus and community," said Maker. "Ultimately, we would like to make everyone at Williams proud of our effort on and off the court."
The Ephs, ranked preseason No. 1 by The Sporting News and No. 3 by d3hoops.com, open their season this Friday with a game against Southern Vermont College. Williams will play Southern Vermont at 8:00 PM on the campus of MCLA in North Adams, due to Williams' volleyball hosting the NCAA Regional.
On Saturday the Ephs will return to Chandler Gym at 7:30 PM to face Salem State.