2012-13 Division III Basketball Preview: New coach tries to lead Kalamazoo out of bottom of MIAA

October 11, 2012 in Division III

It’s hard to believe, but college basketball season is almost here. This week, we’ll preview Michigan’s eight Division III schools.

By Patrick Hayes

At a glance

Overview

Kalamazoo started its season last year by going 5-6 in non-conference games. But once January and the MIAA season started, the Hornets went just 3-11 in 2012. They’re hoping a new coach turns that around.

Strengths

Kalamazoo had several players participate in this summer’s Moneyball Pro-Am in Lansing against high major Division I and professional level players. I talked to a couple of their players about that experience over the summer:

Mark Ghafari thinks the experience as a whole should help the make the team better prepared for its season.

“It’s a really good experience here, especially for our guys,” he said. “We played against great competition, so we all get better from that. It’s fun being out there playing with guys who might play professionally some day or already are professionals. It’s just a really good experience and we all get better from it.”

Mark Ghafari is the team’s leading returning scorer. The guard showed craftiness in the pro-am over the summer and he can get to the basket or shoot the three. He averaged 12.9 points per game as a sophomore (second on the team) and shot 41 percent from 3-point range. He was also second on the team in rebounds at 5.2 per game despite being listed at just 5-foot-11.

Also returning is Eric Fishman, who averaged 12.2 points per game last season.

Weaknesses

When a sub-6-feet player is your second leading rebounder, it certainly indicates a need to get better on the boards. Kalamazoo was out-rebounded by nearly four per game last season and the defense as a whole struggled, allowing opponents to shoot 48 percent overall against them.

Compounding matters, the team loses Prepolec to graduation. He was an All-MIAA selection who averaged 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, both of which led the team.

Circle these dates …

  • Nov. 1 – Kalamazoo battles cross-town Division I school Western Michigan.
  • Jan. 5 and 30 – Kalamazoo swept Olivet in two meetings last season. With Olivet returning one of the top players in the league, those games should be more competitive this season.
  • All of February – Kalamazoo closed last season with five straight losses. With games at Calvin and Albion and home games against Hope, Adrian and Alma, things won’t get any easier at the end of this season.

Outlook

Coaching stability and a lot of experience returning should make Kalamazoo more competitive, but all of the teams in the bottom half of the MIAA standings have similar reasons for optimism heading into the season. Kzoo should improve, but it might not show up significantly in the win-loss column.

Previously


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