2018-19 Preview: Men’s Basketball

2018-19 Preview: Men’s Basketball

PALATINE HILL -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers take to the court on Tuesday with a road game at Warner Pacific. The 2018-19 Pios are led by first-year head coach Tim McCrory, who was named head coach last April.

McCrory was last the associate head coach for Oberlin where he spent seven years. The Yeomen saw a nine-win improvement in his last season, and in two of the last three years, Oberlin finished with double-digit wins. Former Lewis & Clark student-athlete Randall Jackson is back for his second season as an assistant coach, while Mark Swenson and Michael Harper both return with decades of experience on the Pios' bench.

Lewis & Clark's senior class is five deep including Kyle Owens, who led the Pioneers in three-point shooting last year. In 2017-18, Owens averaged 38 percent from three-point range and returns in form. He provides leadership and an ability to stretch the floor. Mak Hutson is back for his second season after transferring before his junior season. The ball-handling scorer averaged 10 points per game last year, one of four Pios in double figures, and whose leadership role should grow in his second year with the program. Trevor Jeg and Ryan Stewart bring good size for Lewis & Clark at 6-8 and 6-10, respectively. Jeg played in his most games last season and brings rebounding and a defensive presence for the Pioneers. Stewart, who transferred before his sophomore year, can shoot from the outside while also sealing off the boards. He averaged career highs in scoring and rebounding last year. Off a career-best shooting performance from three-point range, Adrian Romero sets the bar defensively for the Pioneers and brings good leadership qualities to the team.

Andrew Panicacci is one of four juniors for the Pios this season. The wing player brings good size and an ability to stretch the floor, while boosting his defense and rebounding during the offseason. Sean Yamamoto is one of the team's best shooters. The two-sport student-athlete, who competes for track and field, will help with ball-handling needs this season. Zeke Crawford led the Pioneers in field-goal percentage and rebounding as a sophomore. In his first upperclassman season, Crawford is off to a great start and will be a key part of the Pioneers' front court. Kody Kennedy is a transfer from Mount Hood with incredible versatility. The 6-4 guard/forward passes and rebounds well and is showing leadership through his first year of practice.

Three returners and a transfer make up the sophomore group this season. Nick Lombardi is a true ball handler who creates shots for his teammates. So far, he's had a great pre-season and should be a key defender, too. Daelon Floyd is athletic and versatile who is 6-3 and one of the team's best rebounders. He finished among the top two in rebounding as a freshman and averaged nearly seven points per game. Shvetank Prakash played in 12 games during his first year on the team and had a season-high seven points during his fourth-ever game. He has a great understanding of the game. Matt Brown is a sophomore in his first year with the team. The transfer should help with scoring through creating offense as a former McDonald's All-American Nominee and Offensive Player of the Year.

In addition to Kennedy and Brown, the Pios welcome four freshmen as newcomers to the team. Joseph Martin is a Compass Scholar from Oakland, Calif. and is picking up McCrory's system during the pre-season. Jalen Lowery is from Portland's Central Catholic and brings a ton of talent. He'll look to progress throughout the season after an all-conference and defensive MVP season last year in high school. Ryan Cibull was all-league and All-Bay Area for Alameda High School in California. Picking Lewis & Clark because he can "continue to play basketball at a great school in an amazing city," Cibull is one of the best shooters for the Pioneers. Michael Wudel has shown growth in his first weeks as a collegiate student-athlete and was twice an All-Monticello Empire League in high school. He picked the Pios because Lewis & Clark is a distinguished school on a beautiful campus surrounded by a perfect city.

Schedule

Lewis & Clark opens the season on Tuesday at Warner Pacific, which opened No. 23 in the NAIA DII Men's Basketball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll. The home schedule opens two days later against Corban at the Pamplin Sports Center. The initial non-conference schedule wraps up with an exhibition at Portland (Nov. 19) and a home game against Lewis-Clark State (Nov. 24).

The Pioneers will play seven of their first eight non-exhibitions at home including the Northwest Conference openers on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 with home games against George Fox and Linfield. Following home dates with Southwestern, D'Youville and UC-Santa Cruz, the Pios will play at Caltech and Cal Lutheran.

After the calendar turns to 2019, the Pios will welcome in defending regular-season and NWC tournament champs Whitman and Whitowrth, respectively, on Jan. 4-5. The first NWC road games are at Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound the following weekend, the Pios host Willamette and Pacific on Jan. 18-19. Six of their last eight games are on the road.