Preview: New-Look Spartans Look to Challenge for Fourth Straight ECC Title

Preview: New-Look Spartans Look to Challenge for Fourth Straight ECC Title

The St. Thomas Aquinas men's basketball team will rely on a sea of new faces as they attempt to defend as three-time East Coast Conference champions.

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Over the past five seasons, the Spartans have set the standard among the elite in the East Coast Conference, reaching the conference final in each of those seasons, winning the conference tournament in the last three, and earning an East Regional championship. STAC finished last season at 26-7 overall and 15-3 in ECC play, sweeping Daemen and Bridgeport to retain the title. In order to keep that string of success alive, Coach Tobin Anderson and company will have to turn the page from a historic chapter in STAC basketball history.

Key seniors departing from that group include the likes of Shaq McFarlan, James Mitchell, Jules deCourtenay and Ross Greenfield, but no loss will be more keenly felt than that of All-American Justin Reyes. A three-time winner of the ECC Player of the Year award, Reyes concluded his spectacular career as the conference's all-time leader in scoring, and was selected with the first pick of the second round by the Utah Jazz affiliate in the NBA's G League.

Only four players who wore a STAC uniform in 2017-18 are on the returning roster, led by senior Kam Murrell, who battled through injury much of last season to average 9.6 points per game. The other three returnees are all sophomores - Kevin Lynch, Jamar Sudan, and Zachary Rzewnicki, each of whom played key minutes off the bench a year ago.

Of the 10 newcomers on this year's roster, only Josh Leak carries some past experience at St. Thomas Aquinas, having sat out last season with a redshirt as a freshman. Juniors Sekou Cisse and Jaquan Horne join sophomores Louis Griffith, and freshmen Marcus Stephens, Grant Singleton, Demetre Roberts, Kwabena Opoku, Osbel Caraballo, and David Aikens round out the deep group of underclassmen.

The Spartans will once again open the season with a pair of home contests as part of the STAC Tip-off Classic, starting against Wilmington on Saturday, November 10 at 5:30, and hosting Stonehill on Sunday, November 11 at 4:00 pm. Their always-formidable schedule includes non-conference games against East Regional powers such as Bloomfield, Dominican and Saint Rose. Their challenging ECC slate includes the likes of Bridgeport, Daemen, and LIU Post.