WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Not many people get to start a coaching career twice, in the same location, but Eph head coach Kevin App will do just that when the Ephs' 2014-15 season commences.
After a four-year playing career with The Big Red of Cornell University, App started his intercollegiate coaching career joining Mike Maker's first staff at Williams in 2008-09 as an assistant. After serving as an assistant at Cornell and West Point, App was named the Ephs' head coach in July.
This season App will begin his intercollegiate head coaching exactly where he began his intercollegiate coaching career as an assistant.
App inherits an Eph team that compiled a 28-5 record a year ago, losing the NCAA Championship game in the final seconds. Those outside the program want to focus on the players that graduated or left the program. App and his staff, however, are excited about and focused on the eight returning letterman from 2014, the return of 6-10 junior center Ed Flynn from injury, and 5 new talented underclassmen.
App will be limited in his time to get acquainted with his players as the Ephs and all of NESCAC start pre-season two weeks later than the rest of Division III.
|Ryan Kilcullen '16|
"My first job was to develop a relationship with the players so they could trust me, my assistants, and our approach," noted App. "Next I wanted to remind every player that Williams Basketball has developed a winning tradition because year-in and year-out guys appreciate and accept the challenge of stepping into larger roles. We want each player to be confident, be themselves, and become a superstar in whatever role this program needs them to fill," said App.
In App's mind every player is starting with a clean slate and a chance to show the new staff what he can do on the floor. "While it is a challenge to quickly evaluate our team and find the best rotation, I'm fortunate to come into a program that has talent, senior leadership, and a winning culture."
The senior trio of captains Dan Wohl, Hayden Rooke-Ley and forward Ryan Kilcullen will be counted on to provide leadership and a solid base for App to build his 2014-15 team. "I'm fortunate as a new head coach to have three seniors that know how to win, want to lead, and truly represent our institution on and off the court" remarked coach App.
The versatile Dan Wohl, who has shown he can play almost any position on the floor, is the Ephs' leading returning scorer, averaging 12.9 points a game last year. Wohl also grabbed 6.0 rebounds and handed out 1.9 assists per game. Last season Wohl became the first and only Eph to start 33 games in a season. "In my eyes, Daniel Wohl is an All-American caliber talent, and a better person," App states. "There are not many players in the country with his versatility or skill."
Senior guard Hayden Rooke-Ley has been troubled by injuries in his Eph career, but when healthy has shown he can handle the ball under pressure, run the offense, and generate points. Rooke-Ley netted 10.9 points a game last season, playing in 24 contests. "People underestimate how good Hayden is," says App. "He is a winner, and has proven that over his career."
Ryan Kilcullen, who provided an offensive spark off the bench the past two seasons, is expected to start up front. Last winter, Kilcullen drained 28 of his 60 (46.7%) three-point attempts, and led the team to a perfect record as a starter. "We plan on being very difficult to guard on the offensive end, and Ryan Kilcullen is a major reason why," notes App. "His confidence and leadership are why our staff and team can't wait to get this season started".
|Hayden Rooke-Ley '15|
Two sophomore guards Mike Greenman and Dan Aronowitz each appeared in at least 31 games last season return along with three role players in the junior class: Darrias Sime, a forward, and guards Adam Harrell and Luke Thoreson.
Greenman filled in admirably when Rooke-Ley was sidelined, showing great court awareness and was a key in the Ephs overcoming full court pressure. He started 18 games in his debut season and his 641 minutes played ranked him fifth on the squad. As his first season progressed Greenman developed more confidence in his three-point shot (35-87, .407) and looked to score more often.
Aronowitz might just be the quickest Eph with the ball and he will be counted on this winter to use his ability to slash to the hoop to create more offense. He averaged just under 9 minutes a game in his 31 appearances a year ago.
"Mike and Daniel gained a lot of experience last season," commented App. "To play that many minutes and see the floor in the National Championship game as first-years, allows me to put a lot of trust in these two terrific young men."
Junior center Ed Flynn, 6-10, has re-joined the team after missing last season with an injury. "We are fortunate to have Ed and his size and physicality back, but we will need to ease him back into game mode," App said. It will take some time for Flynn to get back into playing shape and feel comfortable on the floor, but he could be just what App needs in establishing an inside presence at both ends of the floor.
Junior guards Adam Harrell and Luke Thoreson look to provide leadership and depth in the backcourt. App stated, "Nobody has worked harder than Adam and Luke the past two seasons. They are both healthy and eager to contribute on the floor."
Football wide receiver Darrias Sime played some quality minutes late last season and his year of experience should prove helpful as this season progresses. "Darrias has a familiarity with our system and is a terrific athlete, thus allowing him to hopefully contribute more this season," stated App.
New faces joining the squad for this season include football sophomores Taysean Scott, a guard, and Lewis Hayes, a forward and three recruited freshman guards in Chris Galvin (Memphis, TN), Adam Kroot (Indianapolis, IN) and Cole Teal (Chesterton, IN).
App is excited about what he has heard of the other two football sophomores joining his team this season: Taysean Scott and Lewis Hayes. 'I've heard from the guys that Taysean and Lewis were the two best players on the JV team last year," said App. "They will add depth and physicality at the guard and forward positions."
The three incoming freshman guards will be out to push the returnees in a quest to find time on the floor as the season evolves and they learn the Eph offensive and defensive systems. "In my time as a coach, I don't think I've been around a group of first-years that are more physically ready to compete at a high level," notes App. "Our supporters are going to enjoy getting to know these young men over the next four years."
The first two weeks of practice will determine which two players will join the senior trio in the starting lineup. Sophomores Mike Greenman and Dan Aronowitz are expected to press for time in the backcourt, while Ed Flynn will seek to add an inside presence, and the three returning juniors will look to expand their minutes.
"Philosophically on offense we will be pretty much the same as the team was last year, which will help us hit the ground running," stated App. "We're keeping the terminology similar, which will help with a short preseason."
Defensively App is pretty sure that his team will start the season playing man to man, but he is not willing to say that the Ephs will only play man. "We will play what we feel puts our personnel in the best chance to be successful," App offered. "No matter what, it will come down to effort and a commitment to our basic philosophy."
"November 1st couldn't come fast enough," stated App. "I was so excited to get on the court and start teaching and coaching this team. This is a special group of young men that is eager to learn and compete. They are intelligent, selfless, and work hard to represent Williams College on and off the floor. We will continue to do all that we can in order to put a product on the court the College, community, and alumni can be proud of."
Kevin App's first Williams team, ranked fifth in the D3Hoops.com national poll, will take the floor for its lid lifter on the 2014-15 season on November 15 when they host Southern Vermont in the Chandler Athletic Center at 7:00 PM.