>> NCAA, GLIAC on the Horizon for Cavs
Walsh ended its long association with the American Mideast Conference by winning another championship last year. Despite not being eligible for a national championship, the Cavs went about their way of winning, 26 times to be exact. Walsh won a record eighth consecutive AMC title, and captured the post season Ohio Independent Championship against like NCAA ll schools. In July, Walsh was approved for the provisional year (three) in the NCAA membership process. The result moves the Cavalier athletics program a step closer to becoming a full-fledged Division II member in time for the 2013-14 academic year.
Since the arrival of Bob Huggins and Dan Peters in the 1980’s the Walsh basketball program has done nothing but win. However, the last eight years truly represent a “Golden Era” for Cavs’ Basketball. Under Head Coach Jeff Young (224-44, 8 yrs.), the Cavs have reeled off 224 wins, won the NAIA National Championship, finished as national runners-up, captured eight consecutive conference championships and made seven consecutive national tournament appearances. Despite being denied the chance to play for a national title last year, the Cavs finished 26-5 overall and 10-2 in the AMC. At no point of the season did it appear that the Cavs were a team in limbo. And, for the fifth straight season, the Cavs demonstrated their greatest trait, consistency, as they did not suffer back-to-back defeats. They also proved to be nearly unbeatable at home finishing 11-1. Despite having their home win streak end at 48, and suffering their first home loss in the new Alumni Arena, the Cavs have been remarkable at home with wins in 59 of their last 60 games.
>> HERE WE GO
Walsh returns three starters and seven letter winners for their first season of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. Walsh will have to replace a pair of 1,000 point scorers in Ron Kinney and L. J. Sutton. Kinney, despite playing with a fractured finger on his shooting hand, averaged 18.6 points, shot 54% from the field and 45% from three-point. Sutton averaged a career-best 12.7 points; shot 54% from the field a grabbed 6.6 rebounds. Their leadership and game-changing abilities will be missed.
Young returns starters Brad DuPont (6-0, Jr., Massillon, OH/Jackson) at the point; sophomore Rian Burrell (6-3, Zanesville, OH/HS) at the three and post man Kenny Kornowski (6-9, Sr., Marshallville, OH/Smithville). DuPont transferred from Wheeling Jesuit and took command of the offense right-away, leading the team in assists (7.5) and earning honorable mention All-American Mideast Conference honors. He has the uncanny ability of finding the open man in the tradition of the outstanding point guards at Walsh. He became only the second Cavalier to post a triple-double and nearly missed on several more. Having DuPont in the system for a full year will even further his effectiveness.
Burrell had a breakout year as a freshman, averaging 13.9 points, while shooting 52% from the field and 41% from three-point. His athletic ability makes him tough to defend. He shot 41% from three-point, but also has the ability to get to rim with an explosive step. He was named to the All-AMC Team and Freshman Team. Burrell is coming off meniscus surgery in October, but will be full go in time for the season opener on November 12.
Kornowski was off to the finest start of his career when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in December. He was averaging 18.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and was shooting 56% from the floor. He had a 28-point effort at Dayton in an exhibition, and tossed in a career-high 36 points in the Hoops 4 Healing Classic. Having Kornowski back in the paint will be huge. He can score with his back to the basket, but also possess a soft touch from the perimeter.
Transfer Davonte Beard (6-2, So., Akron, OH/St. Vincent-St. Mary/Siena) will start at shooting guard. Beard, D-l transfer from Siena College (NY), averaged 5.2 points in ten games before transferring to Walsh last December. He gives the Cavs another guard in the mold of Burrell, a shooter with the ability to knock down the three, and drive to the basket.
Hrvoje Vucic (7-1, Jr., Split, Croatia/Faust Vrancic/Valparaiso) transfers from division one Valparaiso University and is the tallest player in Cavs’ history. Vucic, along with Kornowski, gives the Cavs’ the biggest frontline in the history of the program.
Also returning are sharp-shooting junior guard Ryan Vanderhorst (6-3, Jr., New Knoxville, OH/HS) and swing man Jeff Copeland (6-5, So., Toledo, OH/St. John’s Jesuit). Vanderhorst averaged 7.0 points per game and shot 46% from the field and 45% from three-point. He was another player who took full advantage of increased playing time. He can change the course of a game when he gets hot. Copeland came off the bench as a freshman and averaged 5.3 points, 3.8 points and shot 57% from the field. By the time the season ended, his playing time had increased and it was becoming difficult to keep him off the floor.
Also look for L .J. Campbell (6-8, So., Weirton, WV/Weir); Jesse Hardin (6-1, Fr., Warren, OH/Harding) and Midland Texas CC transfer Jordan Walker (6-6, Jr., South Holland, IL/Seton Academy) to be in the mix. Campbell will help bolster the frontline, with Hardin seeing time at the point and Walker at the three. All three have been impressive in the preseason.
>> DAYTON, OHIO STATE, GLIAC
Walsh continues the tradition of playing NCAA Division one opponent’s in exhibition matchups. For the fifth straight year the Cavs travel to Columbus to meet Ohio State University (10.30). The Buckeyes won their third straight Big Ten title and advanced to the Final Four, finishing the season 31-8 last season. They were ranked fourth in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Cavs and Buckeyes have met six times, with the first meeting in the 2006-07 season.
The Cavs make a return trip to Dayton on November 4. The Flyers, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, finished 20-13 last year.
The Cavs open GLIAC play on November 29, at home, against Northern Michigan. The Cavs meet South Division powers Findlay (24-7) and Hillsdale (24-6) at home on January 24 and February 23 respectively. They play all South Division teams’ home and home. The Cavs are renewing rivalries with former MOC/AMC teams Ohio Dominican and Tiffin. The annual Mayors’ Cup game with Malone is home on March 2. Walsh plays at Malone on February 2.
The Cavs get their first taste of GLIAC life on the road at Northwood (MI) and Lake Superior (MI) in December.