The 2012-13 season will see the Hiram College men’s basketball team return the majority of its roster from last season, but will be without one key piece in graduated All-Region guard Jamaal Watkins who led the team in scoring (20.1 points per game) and was second in rebounding (8.3 ppg.) last year. But the Terriers will return three starters and 13 letterwinners to help fill the void and compete for a spot in the NCAC postseason.
Last year, Hiram ended the season with a 14-12 overall record and 7-9 in the NCAC which was good enough for a tie for sixth in the standings. The Terriers also made their ninth appearance in the conference tournament.
This season, Hiram will have five seniors on its roster in guards Tom Herchek(Randolph/Waterloo), Alan Sheppard (Wadsworth), Justin Wisniewski (Macedonia/Nordonia) and forwards Justin Lonis (Mentor/Perrysburg) and Steve Zivoder (Garrettsville/Garfield).
Sheppard and Wisniewski helped make up the starting backcourt last season with Sheppard starting 25 of 26 games and Wisniewsi starting all 26 games. Sheppard ended the season tied for third on the team in scoring with a 12.5 ppg. average on 43.6 percent shooting (116-of-266). He was also one of the team’s top three-point threats finishing third in both triples made (37) and attempted (97) for a 38.1 percent average. In addition offensively, Sheppard tallied 61 assists, which was second highest on the team. Wisniewski recorded the team’s highest assist total with 128 and also finished as the NCAA Division III statistical champion in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.27). He averaged 2.9 ppg. on 41.3 percent shooting (26-of-63) and was amongst the team leaders in rebounding at 3.9 boards per game. Wisniewski also made an impact defensively recording 27 steals to place third on the team.
Herchek played in all 26 games last season in a backup role coming off the bench. For the season, he averaged 3.3 ppg. while shooting 37.7 percent (29-of-77) from the floor in addition to posting 16 assists and seven steals.
Zivoder saw significant playing time as a forward last year in 25 games and started 11. He averaged 3.8 ppg. on 47.6 percent shooting (39-of-82) and 2.7 rpg. Defensively, Zivoder was second on the team in blocked shots with 15.
Lonis played in 13 games as a junior in a backup role. He scored five points and pulled down six rebounds. Lonis also contributed with two assists and one steal and should provide depth at the forward position again in 2012-13.
Also expected to make an impact this season at the guard position will be junior Aaron Stefanov (Stow/Stow-Munroe Falls), the 2010 NCAC Newcomer of the Year, who averaged 14.0 ppg. in 2011-12 while shooting 41.8 percent (119-of-285) overall from the floor. Stefanov played in all 26 games last season with 17 starts. He was the team’s top three-point shooter leading the squad in three-pointers made (74) and attempts (186). Stefanov also had 36 assists and 20 steals defensively.
Adding more depth at the guard position will be junior guard Matt Roman (North Olmsted). Last season, Roman played in 17 games coming off the bench while scoring 3.4 ppg. and shooting 52.5 percent (21-of-40) from the field. He was also a leading three-point threat connecting on 11-of-18 attempts (61.1 percent).
Other backcourt players to watch in 2012-13, include sophomore guards Josh Edmondson (Euclid/Twinsburg) and Khiree Gregory (Youngstown/Ursuline). Both played in backup roles as freshman with Edmondson seeing time in 14 games and Gregory in 11 games and both should again compete for playing time this season.
The forward position will have the most new faces, but in addition to Zivoder and Lonis, look for junior Chris Zurowski (Medina) to contribute. As a sophomore, Zurowski played in 25 games and scored 34 points on 50.0 percent shooting (14-of-28). He grabbed 40 rebounds (1.6 rpg.) while tallying 11 assists, two blocks and six steals.
Hiram will officially begin the 2012-13 season on Saturday, Nov. 24 when the Terriers host the University of Mount Union at Price Gymnasium. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. The Terriers open NCAC play on Wednesday, Nov. 28 against Denison in Granville. That game is slated to begin at 8 p.m.