The Felician College men's basketball team saw six seniors graduate from last year's squad. Those players were the top six Golden Falcons in both points and minutes, and the four four-year players from that group won the most games of any class in program history.
As a natural result, the 2011-12 version of the team features several new faces, and many others with limited varsity experience. Third-year head coach David DeFerrari and his staff have successfully re-stocked the Golden Falcons. They now face the task of molding a unit capable of facing the nightly challenges of the Division II East Region.
"With so many new faces, there's unfamiliarity with how we do things, with this level of play, and with each other," DeFerrari said. "Chemistry needs to be developed over time and there's going to be a learning curve. But I do believe we have the talent and the worth ethic to be successful. So as long as everyone remains positive and is willing to put in the time, effort and teamwork that is necessary, I am confident we can be competitive and that ultimately success will come to us."
Felician won the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament in DeFerrari's first season, and earned a return trip to the league playoffs last year. But the coach sees no point in burdening his current group with unnecessary expectations.
"The main thing is to get better and learn every day," DeFerrari said. "That will keep the program moving forward. In two years we've established an identity. When we're going well, we'll force the issue on defense. Our defense will hopefully create easy offensive opportunities, allowing us to push the ball, run the floor, and bring an exciting brand of basketball to our fans. Our new guys have the opportunity to keep what we've done going and expand upon it."
GUARDS: The Golden Falcons are excited about the return of junior Antoine Obery (Roselle, NJ/Abraham Clark). An all-CACC performer during the championship season, Obery suffered a season-ending injury two games into 2010-11 and received a medical waiver. When healthy, he is one of the best rebounding guards in the conference.
The coaches will look for sophomore transfer Tajric Boggs (Coram, NY/Longwood) to set the tone on defense and push the ball on offense. Returnees Owen Barnes (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck), a sophomore, and junior Anthony D. Green (Jersey City, NJ/Snyder) will have the opportunity to expand their roles, and Jimmy Schmitt (Elmwood Park, NJ/Elmwood Park), one of just two seniors on the squad, will be looked to for stability and leadership.
WINGS: Junior-college transfer Dukpe Smith-Obasuyi (Newark, NJ/Weequahic) is an athletic defender who can play either forward position. He has a chance to thrive in the Golden Falcons' system and be a major contributor.
The coaching staff is encouraged by the preseason performance of junior Todd Fleming (Roselle, NJ/Bloomfield Tech) and believe he can take on more responsibility. Junior Anthony J. Green (Jersey City, NJ/Marist) and freshman J.R. Pringley (Elizabeth, NJ/Linden) will have the opportunity to compete for minutes off the bench.
POSTS: Transfers John Tello (Ridgefield Park, NJ/Ridgefield Park) and David Williamson (Bronx, NY/Wings Academy) are the favorites to start in the post. Both players can score in a variety of ways. Rookies Will Thompson (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) and Jarryd Horsley-Fordham (Orange, NJ/Marist) have displayed strong potential and are expected to settle into roles.