LANCASTER, Pa. - With five starters returning, combined with the largest freshman class in recent memory, the Franklin & Marshall men's basketball team is looking to make their way back to the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
Click here to watch the season preview video with head coach Glenn Robinson.
The nine-member freshman class will add much-needed depth to an F&M squad that was riddled with injury last year. The Diplomats ended the year with an 18-8, 12-6 Centennial Conference (CC) record after winning 11 out of their last 13 CC contests and made the program's 20th CC tournament appearance in the 24-history of the conference.
G/F - Ignas Slyka, So.
G - Brandon Federici, Sr.
F/C - J.C. McGrath, Jr.
C - Lionel Owona, Sr.
PG - Matthew Tate, Sr.
Below is a position by position breakdown of the team.
Matthew Tate will start at point guard for the fourth straight year. The senior averaged 24 minutes a game last season with 10.2 points and 3.2 assists per game. Sophomore Mike Rice will look to increase his role after seeing action in 15 contests last year. Freshmen Justin Kupa and Keith Rado add depth to the position.
Federici enters his fourth and final year as a Diplomat and has already put together an impressive resume. Last year he became just the second player in program history to be named a CoSIDA Academic All-American, while also earning spots on the CC Academic Honor Roll, Academic All-Centennial lists and being named CC Winter Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's basketball.
In recognition of his performance on the court, Federici became one of just eight players in Conference history to earn All-CC First Team honors three times after being a unanimous selection in 2016-17. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Jostens Trophy.
He led the conference with 19.9 points per game and his 2.2 steals per game, along with 3.2 triples a contest, placed him first in the CC while his 35.2 minutes per contest were second. Federici finished in double-figures in 25 games, including 14 games with 20 or more points. He enters the season with 1,512 points, just 420 shy of Georgio Millian's '12 school mark of 1,932.
Last season, Slyka was just the second F&M player to receive Rookie of the Year honors, in just the fifth year the honor was awarded following in the footsteps of Federici (2015). He was fourth in the Conference at 1.7 steals a game and finished seven games in the double-digits.
Senior Daniel Osley will see significant time in the rotation after playing in 22 games last year. A strong group of freshmen -- Les Thomas, Bo Williams, and Matt Redhead -- will be fighting to see time early in the season.
After being moved to the post during the winter break last year, J.C. McGrath flourished by scoring in double figures in seven of the final 13 games of the year. He received All-CC Honorable Mention following the year and ended the season third in the Conference with a 59.2 field goal percentage, sixth with 1.2 blocks per game and eighth with 5.5 rebounds per contest. Freshmen Matt Groll, Zach Ravitz and Brian Hines, will battle to break into the rotation this season.
Senior Lionel Owona will start for the third consecutive year. Owona played in all 25 games last year while averaging 4.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Freshman Jerry Ben will play a significant role at center this season as well.
The Road Ahead
F&M opens its 2017-18 campaign on the road against Misericordia, the defending MAC Champions, on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The William Marshall Tip-Off Tournament begins on Friday, Nov. 17 against Bethany at 7:30 p.m. Lancaster Bible and Alvernia also compete in the tournament with the Consolation (5:30 p.m.) and Championship (7:30 p.m.) games set for Saturday evening.
Centennial Conference (CC) competition picks up on Tuesday, Nov. 21 with an 8:00 p.m. road tilt against Gettysburg. The Sponaugle New Years Tournament is set to run from Dec. 29-30 and features Randolph, Hartwick, and Delaware Valley with the Consolation game at 5:30 p.m. and the Championship at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The CC Playoffs begin with the First Round on Wednesday, Feb. 21 and the Semifinals and Championship occurring on Feb. 23-24.
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Look for the icon below, which can be accessed at the top-right of all winter schedules when viewed on your computer, or bottom-left of all schedules on your mobile device.
All F&M home contests are streamed in HD video, free of charge at GoDiplomats.com/Live and simulcast on the Centennial Conference Digital Network (CCDN). Fans can also follow the action through the live stats page, found here.
Centennial Conference Digital Network (CCDN)
The Centennial Conference announced a partnership with Stretch Internet to become the conference's digital network provider and establish a central location for all CC athletic events. Broadcasts that are present in the Stretch portal are exclusively produced by each of the 11-member institutions of the conference.
In addition to its Roku channel, the Conference will have three new over-the-top (OTT) applications to make broadcasts available – Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android TV. Home broadcasts that are produced by all 11 members will be available on CentennialConference.TV and the OTT apps.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats YouTube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season.