BETHANY - After a 13-11 season that included a 10-6 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference play, the Bethany men's basketball team will look to recapture conference supremacy and notch its third title in four years in 2013-14.
This season, the Bison will be tasked with replacing four departed seniors in Nick Wilcox, Reece Maybery, Brady Pacific and James Barton. That's a group that totaled more than 4,300 career points and helped Bethany to 78 victories, including 42 in conference play.
''Anytime you replace four starters, including one that was a four-year player in Wilcox, you have to quickly find your identity all over again,'' Coach Andrew Sachs said. ''It is the nature of the beast in collegiate athletics. You always lose great players to graduation, but you can always find guys that can step up and fill those roles to move the team into the future.''
One of those players that Sachs is referring to is senior forward Leslie Addy, who appeared in all 27 games for the Bison last season, totaled 10.8 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field, including a little less than 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
''Addy is one of those guys that will always lead by example,'' Sachs said of his senior forward. ''Although he may not be the most vocal player on the floor, you will never find someone who works harder or has a bigger passion for the game.''
Addy, who has played substantial minutes in two NCAA Tournament appearances for the Bison, ranked second on the team in total rebounds last season, averaging 6.2 per game to go along with scoring 11.2 points per game against conference opponents.
Addy notched three double-doubles, including a 33-point, 10-rebound showing against Washington & Jefferson. He also pulled down more rebounds in a game than anyone on the team, notching 19 in a contest with Geneva.
The Bison will look to fill holes left by Maybery, Pacific and Barton in the backcourt. However, Coach Sachs feels like he has the pieces in place to make a smooth transition.
Returning letterwinners Lawrence Weldon and Tyrone Smothers, as well as junior Delonte' Joyce will all look to have significant floor time this season.
Weldon saw some starting minutes due to injuries in the front court, and filled the Bison?s needs nicely, shooting 48.6 percent from the field during his junior campaign. But it was the way that he conducts himself on the defensive end that gives Coach Sachs confidence in his ability.
''Weldon is a great defensive player on the ball,'' Sachs said. 'His quickness and ability to anticipate make him an extremely tough defender."
Joining Weldon will be Smothers, who appeared in every game for Bethany a year ago. Smothers averaged 4.2 points per game as a reserve and distributed the ball well, averaging almost a plus-2.5 in his assist-to-turnover ratio.
''Smothers really came on strong for us towards the end of the season when we really needed him,'' Sachs said. ''We expect a lot out of him this year, especially in his leadership abilities on the floor.''
Also seeing playing time will be Joyce, as well as freshmen Antonio Rudolph and Pedro Lalor.
Bethany ranked first in the PAC in steals, and also was the top team in turnover margin at plus-7.81. Those statistics are something Sachs believes the team can repeat.
''We have a lot of quick guards on our roster this season, so our hope is to be able to extend our pressure and mix up the defenses to keep teams off balance,'' he said. ''I really believe that the defensive pressure of our backcourt can make for some quick, transition offense, which will really help our team this season.?
With the departure of a four-year starter in Wilcox, the Bison will look to a few different big men to step up.
Along with Addy, who has the capability to play either of the forward positions, Sachs will also look to Kevin Jackson to provide post presence and leadership to the team.
Jackson made 11 starts, but appeared in all 27 games. He averaged 6.4 points but improved that mark to 7.1 per game against conference opponents.
''Last season, I feel like we may have relied a bit too much on the outside game,'' Sachs said. ''This season, Jackson gives us that solid post presence that we need and he gives us the ability to be more aggressive on the boards as well as in our game planning.''
Joining Addy and Jackson are junior transfer Ramel Young, junior Michael McElhenie, sophomores Alan Harper and Darrian Bruster and freshman Nijay Kelly.
''We need to rely more on our frontcourt to get the job done this season,'' Sachs said.