Senior captains look to lead Devils

The Fredonia State men’s basketball team will look to new head coach Phillip Seymour to energize a program coming off of a 7-17 season that saw them finish tied at the bottom of the SUNYAC with a 3-15 conference mark last year.

Seymour, the former Canisius College standout and New York Knick draft pick, has vast experience at the Division I level as a coach and player, and spent four successful seasons coaching at the high school level. This will be his first taste of Division III.

Expected to lead Seymore’s group this year will be senior captain Tyrone Clark. Clark’s all-around play was evident, having led the team in steals (49), blocks (29) and rebounds (112) and was second with 12.0 points per game and 23 three-point baskets. He also led the team in highlight-reel dunks.

Seymore is hoping that Clark adds more of a non-basketball presence this year in terms a of a leadership role. “He needs to be more vocal on the court and [to the team],” Seymore said. “We could go a long way if he can accomplish that.”

Another player Seymore is leaning on to provide leadership this year is 6-6 senior Markus Williams. Williams did not play last year, yet returns to the team and was named a captain. The added responsibility coincides with Williams stepping up his game.

“It’s big for him getting the captain’s role,” Seymore said. “He’s got a great work ethic and will give us stability in the post.”

Williams has also added some range to his scoring, which should help spread the floor.

Four sophomores saw a handful of starts last year – Robert Lyles, Matt Deboy, John Kovach and Eric Zwierlein.

Lyles is expected to have the biggest impact of that group as the team’s point guard. According to Seymore, turnovers were an issue last year and an area of focus this year.

“We expect (Lyles) to have more assists than turnovers. He’ll be our coach on the floor. We need to do a better job with decision making.”

Lyle’s talent began to shine in his freshman season as he became a starter late in the year and averaged 14.9 points over his final six games. He finished the year with a 7.9 per game average in 24 contests, which included a game-winning layup in the final seconds in an overtime win against Potsdam.

At 6-7, Deboy is the tallest player on the team and will be a force on the inside. He made nine starts last year. According to Seymore, he is a good passer and has been improving daily. With few big bodies on the roster, he will be a factor for the Devils this season.

Kovach puts 220 pounds on his strong 6-4 frame and provides toughness under the boards. He will be counted on to rebound and provide a presence. He went for 4.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game as a freshman. Zwierlein, a 6-3 guard, is a solid shooter with a good basketball I.Q.

Another sophomore guard, Kevin Federation, is known for his toughness and is a solid shooter that can help extend the defense. He came off the bench in 18 games last year.

Alexander Grace, a sophomore, is new to the program, yet will have an impact. From Seymore’s initial assessment of the 5-9 guard until now, Grace has exceeded expectations and found himself in the starting lineup of the team’s pre-season games. He will back up Lyles at the point. He is a good shooter with a “good in-between game that gives 110 percent all the time,” according to Seymore.

A pair of seniors, Zack Edwards and Ray Parris, bring experience to the guard position. Edwards has been slowed by injuries so far, yet has been known as a solid shooter. He averaged 5.0 points per game and 2.0 rebounds last season, and nailed 22 three-pointers.

Mikhail Atkins is a junior that sat out last season. He brings a solid defensive effort to the table.

Xavier Mann, a junior, and freshmen Alex Elderkin and Anthony Colquitt round out the roster.

The men open today in the Nazareth Tournament vs. Union College. After five straight road games, the team debuts in a renovated Steele Hall on Dec. 3 when they take on Alfred University.