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With another season just around the corner, the Frostburg State men's basketball team will look to make the 2017-18 campaign a memorable one for head coach Webb Hatch.

Hatch, the winningest coach in program history, is heading into his 19th season at the helm of the Bobcat basketball program and he announced in late October that he will retire following the 2017-18 season. As a team, Frostburg returns a plethora of talent from a season ago which means the Bobcats will aim for a spot in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Frostburg was selected 10th in the 2017 CAC Preseason Poll, released on November 14, but Hatch and the Bobcats have plenty of momentum heading into the new season.

The Bobcats return 11 players from last year's 7-18 squad that won three of its final five games, including a thrilling 86-80 overtime victory over then 11th-ranked Salisbury to cap the season.

Getting Offensive
Frostburg will look to flip the script offensively this season after wrapping up the 2016-17 campaign first in offensive rebounds (14.6), third in assists (13.6), seventh in points/game (69.8), seventh in field goal percentage (41.2%) and eighth in three-point field goal percentage (29.1%). The Bobcats welcome back four of their top five scorers from last season and Hatch believes this year's up-tempo style of play will lead to a more exciting brand of basketball.

"We hope to play more up-tempo than last season and are looking to shoot more threes," Hatch said. "We have excellent depth at small forward and shooting guard with Tyler Michael, Daniel Alexander, Greg Gibbs, Chris Coston, Obideah Stith and JUCO transfer Jordan Johnson."

Headlining the returners is senior guard Tyler Michael, a 2016-17 All-CAC Second Team selection who finished second in the league in scoring (16.5 ppg) last season. Michael, a Cresaptown, Md. native, has become one of the most prominent offensive players in the conference and enters the season just 17 points shy of 1,000 for his career. He scored in double-digits 21 times last season and registered a season-high 32 points in the Bobcats' season-opener against Mount Aloysius on November 15, 2016.

"Tyler is a very well rounded and complete player with the ability to score from anywhere on the floor," Hatch said. "He worked on his three-point shot a lot over the summer and has a great ability to get to the hoop off the dribble and does not shy aware from contact, which will get him to the free throw line quite a bit. In addition to his basketball skills he is an outstanding student with aspirations of going to graduate school after he has graduated from FSU."

Junior forward Edwin Cole is a double-double threat that averaged 9.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last year. Cole led the conference in rebounds/game and scored in double figures 12 times last season. A native of Beltsville, Md., Cole posted a season-high 21 points last February against Penn State Harrisburg and grabbed 14 rebounds against Salisbury on February 18.

Senior Dalton Gaus averaged 5.7 points per game last season and provides Frostburg with an ability to hit shots from the outside. Gaus converted the third most three-pointers (23) on the team and shot three-pointers at a 37.1% clip.

Senior Darren Campbell will also look to play an increased role in the Bobcats offensive attack after posting 8.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Sophomore Daniel Alexander should also play an increased role after starting 10 games last season. Alexander averaged 6.1 points and posted a season-high 15 points against Mary Washington in early February.

Campbell and Alexander, much like other players on the team, can provide the Bobcats versatility at either the guard or forward positions.

"Dalton Gaus and Darren Campbell give us two 6'5" nontraditional post men who can shoot the three from the trail spot and Edwin Cole is our best post player," Hatch said. "The post position is where we do not yet have experienced depth but hopefully that will evolve over the season."

Getting Defensive
With depth throughout the lineup, the Bobcats are hoping that they can stay sharp on the defensive side of the ball throughout the year.

"We will play multiple defenses and our depth should allow us to stay fresh and get after opponents," Hatch said.

Sophomore guard Lawrence Pettis, Jr. is the team's leading returner with 28 steals while Cole and senior Christopher Coston combined for 28 blocks last season.

The Bobcats finished seventh in the country in total blocks (146) and paced Division III in blocks per game (5.8).

Frostburg limited two opponents to under 60 points last season and held Marymount (Va.) to a season-low 52 points on January 14.

Frostburg limited opponents to just 39.8% shooting from the floor, a mark that ranked 17th in DIII last season.

At the Point
Pettis is back to facilitate the Bobcat offense this season after bursting onto the scene in his first year with the Bobcats. Pettis finished second in the conference with 3.1 assists/game and fourth on the team in three-point field goal percentage (31.2%).

"Lawrence will be as quick as any point guard in the CAC. He is tough and an excellent on the ball defender," Hatch said. "He sees the floor well and can really excel in the open floor as a passer and scorer."

Veteran Experience
While this year's Bobcat squad incorporates a mix of newcomers and veterans alike, the burden will be placed on the seven seniors, who represent the largest class of players on this year's team.

After the departure of two seniors last season (Josh Wiegand and Terry Martin), the Bobcats enter the 2017-18 season with a total of 11 upperclassmen.

"We have four seniors who are entering their fourth season in our program: Tyler Michael, Dalton Gaus, Chris Coston and Jeffrey McMorris," Hatch said. "Darren Campbell and Greg Gibbs are in their third and second season on our team and their experience and leadership are invaluable in setting the tone for practices and helping the younger players."


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