The Gov. Livingston boys' basketball team will open the 2016/17 season Friday night when they meet the Roselle Rams. Tipoff is set for 7 pm in Berkeley Heights. The Highlanders and the Rams split their 2 games last season with each team winning on their home court. Gov. Livingston will be led by seniors Billy Pencek, Chas DeAngelis, and Kevin Keegan who are the team’s returning varsity players. The Rams return leading scorer, Joshua Jones, who averaged 15 points per game against GL in last season's two matchups.
Here is a look at the 2016/17 HIGHLANDER HOOPSTERS:
LAST SEASON: 6-17 overall record fell to Somerville in the first round of the North Jersey, Section II, Group 3 tournament. The Highlanders played .500 ball through their first 12 games of the 2015/16, but then ended the season with10 straight losses.
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CONFERENCE AND DIVISION: Union County Conference - Valley Division
HEAD COACH: Chris Loeffler (2nd season)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: Billy Pencek, Chas DeAngelis, Liam Wolfe, Kevin Keegan, and Ryan Davey.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:
Senior point guard Billy Pencek should find this seasons up tempo game more conducive to his ball skills. Pencek not only has the ability to push the ball up court but is also a solid finisher on the break. In addition to running the offense the senior point is also the team's most experienced scorer. Last season when given extended minutes, Pencek proved he could score either by hitting the 3 ball or driving to the hoop. He went for a season high 17 against Jefferson, and had multiple double digit scoring games.
Senior forward Chas DeAngelis is a slasher who has a knack for getting to the rim and drawing fouls. The 6'2’ DeAngelis is an aggressive defender who can play bigger due to his great leaping ability. He also has the quickness to defend the perimeter if need be.
Senior forward Kevin Keegan a long 6'4'' is a good scorer in the low post. He also has the ability to stretch defenses with his 3 point shooting. With his length he will give opposing teams matchup problems especially when he is out on the wing.
Junior center Liam Wolfe will man the center position on both ends of the court. The 6'4'' Wolfe has a nice touch around the basketball and can also step out for the mid-range jumper. He will provide rebounding on both ends of the floor and will look to get the ball out quickly as the Highlanders are playing a more up-tempo game. Wolfe also has the speed to get up court and finish on the break as well.
Junior forward Matt Schuman will find his way into the starting lineup depending on potential matchups. The hard-nosed under sized power forward will get his minutes and use his athleticism on defense to battle both front court and backcourt opponents. A nice baseline jumper and strong offensive rebounding will get him in the scoring book.
Sophomore guard Ryan Davey has a quality long range jumper which will help soften up opposing zone defenses. He will be starting at the 2 guard and will provide the Highlanders with another viable scoring option.
Senior Jason Coldon the first big off the bench will provide a physical inside presence. He is a strong rebounder who can finish with both hands under the basket. He also has a nice touch from the outside and if left open will knock down the jumper.
Senior Tyler Stapleton is capable of playing both in the front and back court. His versatility as a defender and competent ball skills gives Coach Loeffler a great deal of flexibility when looking for a matchup advantage.
Junior Evan Reiner is a quick and aggressive combo guard capable of playing both backcourt positions. Reiner will back up Pencek at the point but also has a nice jumper when playing the 2.
Sophomore point guard Josh Coldon combines solid ball handling skills with outstanding court vision as a pass first playmaker. Coldon is capable of hitting the three ball when receiving a kickout from the Highlander bigs.
Seniors Ethan Fong and Cole Schneider, along with juniors Tyler McCulloch, Pat DeAngelis, Will Jennings, and Jackson Dultz round out the squad. All of these players have all been competing hard in practice/preseason scrimmages and could easily force rotation changes as the season progresses.
STRENGTHS: Work ethic, commitment and team cohesiveness. Flexability in players able to play multiple positions.
WEAKNESSES: Lack of varsity experience and inconsistent scoring.
COACHES COMMENTS: "Last year was a good learning experience for all of us and one in which we spent a great deal of time building a foundation. We will be more competitive this season and I honestly feel like we’ll have an opportunity in every game. I expect them to compete in every single game on our schedule and to have the mentality that they can win every game on our schedule.”