2011-12 Team Preview
Coming into last season, Williamson had experienced an unprecedented run of basketball success. Williamson won the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national championship in 2008 and 2009 and fell a mere 4 points shy of winning a third consecutive national championship in 2010. Despite those tremendous results, the success the 2010-11 team had during last season certainly paralleled those efforts-if not topped them!
Heading into last season, Williamson returned just one starter from the previous year. Worse yet, the team had just 3 seniors and a school record 8 freshmen on the roster. To make matters even worse, the team had just one player above 6’2” tall.
Considering the roster limitations they faced as well as their lack of experience, no one thought they would finish with even a .500 record-let alone make it to the national tournament for a 4th straight time. Yet the skeptics were proven wrong-big-time! Williamson started out by winning its first 10 games to start the year and finished with a 20-7 record. They led the nation in team defense for the 5th straight year, gained the #1 ranking in the USCAA Division II national poll in mid-January and qualified for the USCAA national tournament for a school record 4th straight year.
The question facing the team in 2011-12 is can they possibly come close to approaching the success the team had last year?
While this year’s squad returns just 2 starters, they do return 2 additional letter winners. It is hoped that the 4 returning players can not only provide experience but also leadership as well to this year’s squad. This is especially crucial because whereas last season the team had a school record 8 freshmen on its roster, this year’s team tops that with 9 freshmen!
The two returning starters from last year are USCAA Honorable Mention All-American Reggie Richardson and guard Julian Stewart. The problem facing head coach Bill Michaels is that Stewart broke his nose and fractured his orbital socket during the team’s final scrimmage and will miss at least the first month of the season. That combined with another injury to a 2nd starter already leave the Mechanics in a deep hole to start things off. Whether or not they can somehow rally and dig themselves out of that hole remains to be seen.
Tenth year head coach Bill Michaels likes the effort of his squad as they head into the regular season but he admits the team’s youth and inexperience are huge hurdles to overcome.
“We have been working extremely hard and the attitudes of the guys have been great. Yet not many of the team’s we will play have just one starter returning and have a roster with no seniors like we have and have already lost 2 starters for an extended period of time before the season even has started! Those are 3 huge hurdles. One thing I can say though is our kids will battle. They are hard-working, scrappy players that we feel will continue to improve.
The team will have to grow up quickly as they face the toughest schedule in school history including 3 big-time tournaments. The officially team opens their season on the road at Lehigh Carbon Community College on November 10.