The 2013-14 edition of Clark men's basketball has been picked to finish fifth by a vote of the league's coaches in the inaugural preseason poll. Defending league champion WPI took top honors, collecting seven of the eight first-place votes.
So Hard To Say Goodbye
The Cougars lost nearly 90 percent of their offense from last season's team that hosted a NEWMAC Quarterfinal game. Among the nine graduates were two-time all-conference honoree D.J. Bailey and four-time all-league selection Brian Vayda, who finished fourth on the school's all-time scoring list and appeared in more games than anyone in program history.
Seven new faces will dot the Clark lineup when the Cougars open up their season on Friday, November 15. Included in that group are freshmen Lucas LaLima (Colts Neck N.J.), David Mercier (Milford, Mass.), Joseph Atkinson (Milford, Mass.), Matthew Woods (Arlington, Mass.), Lamar Berk (Saint Augustine, Fla.), Joshua St. Fort (Milton, Mass.) and junior transfer Conor Dow (Needham, Mass.).
As has been the case for the last several years, the Cougars will play a game live on local television. Charter TV-3 will broadcast the Clark-Worcester State showdown on Tuesday, December 10. This marks the third time in the last three years that the Cougars will face a different team. In 2011-12 they played host to WPI, while last season saw them welcome preseason No. 1 MIT.
The changes for Clark didn't only occur on the floor but on the sidelines as well. Steve Manguso was named associate head coach while former standout John Ginnity returns to the staff as a volunteer assistant. That duo joins longtime assistants Tyrone Hicks, Mike Burlas and Pat Oroszko on head coach Paul Phillips' staff.
New associate head coach Steve Manguso, who coached high school basketball in Central Massachusetts for 30 years and won nearly 500 games at nearby Milford High, actually coached Clark newcomers Joseph Atkinson and David Mercier for four seasons prior to their arrival. That trio helped lead the Hawks to a Central Massachusetts Division I title last season.
Although the Cougars get to play six of their first 11 games at home and only have two true road games in the first semester, the opening road of the season is tough. After their two games at the Roger Williams Tournament, Clark travels to Fitchburg State – an NCAA Tournament team a season ago. Also mixed in the early portion of the slate are contests against Worcester-area rivals Anna Maria and Becker as well as a home contest against Connecticut College.
Moving On Up
Head coach Paul Phillips is on the cusp of two major milestones entering the 2013-14 season. His 224 wins in his 15 seasons on the Clark sidelines are just nine behind legendary head coach Wally Halas' 233 for the most in school history. Meanwhile, his career victory total of 390 are just ten shy of 400 all-time wins.