With a host of experienced players mixed in with a talented group of first-years, the 2012-13 season of Caltech men's basketball has big and bold ambitions.
The squad returns over 90 percent of its scoring offense from last year. In addition to the scoring, the team's experience is accentuated by the fact that the roster has combined to tally over 250 starting assignments.
"There is no substitute for experience," fifth year head coach Oliver Eslinger said. "The seniors have shown what commitment and learned toughness can do."
Michael Edwards is the most experienced and offensive juggernaut of the crew. The senior is less than 100 points from breaking the school's career scoring record while playing in all 75 games he has suited up for. He has been the programs top scorer twice in his three previous seasons. Last season he was recognized by the league's head coaches as an all-conference performer after finishing in the SCIAC's top 10 in points, three-pointers made and blocked shots.
"We all know that Michael can shoot the ball. We are all excited to see other aspects of his game shine this year," Eslinger said.
A foursome of seniors will see valuable time as both a starter or role player off the bench. Collin Murphy started all 25 games last year; averaging 22.8 minutes a game. A scrappy player who often out-hustles the opposing team, Murphy will serve as team captain for the third consecutive season. Ethan Boroson will also serve as a team captain for a third straight year. The native of Tucson, AZ hasn't missed a game the last two years while averaging just under 20 minutes played per game.
Pan Wang started in 16 of the 25 games he played last year. Wang has the ability to put up double figures on a consistent basis as he scored 10 or more points in the Beavers last five games. Alex Runkel will play in the paint for the Beavers. Runkel started all 23 games he played-in; posting an average of 4.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21 minutes a game.
The final senior on the team, Arjun Chandar, has played in 17 games in his first three seasons with the Beavers. A hard working teammate and consummate team leader in practice, Chandar will see time off the bench.
"We want the best for the six seniors. I can't say enough about what they've done to enhance the culture here," Eslinger said.
Mike Paluchniak returns for his junior campaign as a solid offensive threat in addition to his lock-down defense he brings each time he steps on the floor. Paluchniak showed he can play at the collegiate level after earning the starting nod in all 25 of Caltech's games two seasons ago. Even though he had to battle through nagging aliments last year, he still averaged 19.4 minutes in 20 games.
The only other junior on the squad is Brian Okoro, a 6-0 guard who possesses a quick first step with strength that will make the Beavers even more dynamic. Okoro has seen action in 21 games during his first two years at Caltech.
Two high scoring sophomores round out the returning players for Eslinger's group. Andrew Hogue started the last nine games of the season for the Beavers. On the year he was second on the team in scoring (9.1 ppg) while playing the second most minutes (685) on the team. Bryan Joel played in all 25 games and also started the last nine games last season. He nailed the second most three-pointers on the team (33) en route to being the squad's third leading point producer (8.3 ppg).
"Andrew and Bryan are very versatile and we depended a lot on them when they were freshman," Eslinger said. "They are ready to take us to the next level."
A host of first-year players will add to the depth of the roster and have the skill to contribute valuable minutes throughout the season.
Kc Emezie will provide production all over the court. An all-conference selection at Marvin Ridge HS (N.C.), the 6-5 forward averaged 15.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a game while serving as a team co-captain during his senior year. Another player who will see much time is Paul Keifer. A 6-6 native of Calgary, Alberta, he was the St. Francis HS athlete of the year three times while participating on the basketball, volleyball and track and field teams.
Robert Anderson brings his lanky 6-4 frame to the squad after helping lead Orono HS to the Minnesota class AAA state title in 2011.
Tem Gebrekristos is an extremely athletic player who played key roles on his high school football and track/field teams. Paul-Herve Tamokoue Kamlia is in his first-year in the U.S. after studying in Paris, France. He played with a team in northern France called Ilede France Selection team where they won the region.
Aditya Bhagavathi joined the squad during the third week of preseason practice after serving as one of the top harriers on the Beavers cross country team in the fall. Yubo Su is looking to progress his game after graduating from Northview HS in Georgia.
"This class is athletic and competitive and fills quite a few needs. We'll see immediate increase in rebounding and inside scoring as well as improvements on defense," Eslinger said.
A trio of assistant coaches join the fold this year as Jason Pruitt, Dave Briski and Leo Balayon will help direct the team.
Caltech is scheduled to play 13 home and 12 road games this season, including a season opening trip to Milwaukee, WI for the second time in three years. Their first home game is November 21 against La Sierra.
Tri-Captains Michael Edwards, Collin Murphy, Ethan Boroson Talk About Preseason Practice and the 2012-13 Season --