Cavs Basketball Preview

Cavalier Women’s basketball takes 7th, Cavalier Men’s basketball ranked 12th in preseason poll

Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team is set to start the season on November 18. They are ranked at number seven in the preseason Mountain East Conference poll. They look to overcome the second round of the conference tournament which has sent them home the last two seasons.

The Cavs finished off last season on a roll and look to carry that into this season as they try to silence the critics. Four returning starters are back: Blair Harding, Kehana Grayer, Taylor Sandidge, and Kayla Carey to show their experience factor on a relatively young team. Allison Ball and Makenzie Cluesman look to give the Cavs a spark along with the impressive freshman Natalia Saar.

The season starts with three road games against Winston-Salem State, Charleston, and West Virginia State. Charleston could prove to be a tough one as they are ranked second in the MEC. The Cavs come back to Wise for a six game home stand and play the likes of Tusculum, Glenville State, and King University.

The Cavs go back on the road for four straight games, gains some home court support for three of the last four games and ends the season with a date with Concord going into the Mountain East Conference Tournament.

Head coach Kristin Kunzman gave some thoughts on her expectations coming into the season. “Having more depth with our bench players and more veteran experience should help the younger players develop.” She feels as if this team will improve because they have more healthy players ready to play to give the team some rest when needed and feels that this team will have great balance at all positions. Kunzman is looking forward to seeing Makenzie Cluesman have a huge impact coming off a redshirt season last year and knows that the returning players will help lead this team to a successful season.

The Cavs finished the season last year at 10-20. The fans are excited to see this team show some grit and determination and bring home a winning record.

The success of the Cavs this year will factor on conference play as they look to overcome their 8-14 record from a year ago.

The majority of the games are played within the conference thus it must be a focal point that Kunzman is emphasizing. This basketball season should be an improvement as the team enters their third year in division two.

Men’s Basketball

UVa-Wise men and women’s basketball are back. The men are ranked 12th and the women are ranked seventh in the NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference.

This season will be the Highland Cavalier’s third in the MEC and first as full NCAA Division II members. The Cavs will be eligible for the NCAA postseason for the first time in school history.

The men, led by Head Coach Blake Mellinger, will have two starters from last year, Matt Day and Philip Owens II, returning to the team. Also returning for the Cavs will be junior forward Corey Dick.

Guards Camryn Fort, Anthony Howard Jr. and Lashain Matthews, who were redshirt freshmen are likely to see action on the court this season. Sophomore Dimitri Sousa may also see playing time this season after sitting out his freshman year.

The men’s team enters the season with six new additions. Guards Demarcus Edwards (Wentworth Military Academy & College), Ricardo Hill Jr. (University of Akron), Desmon Shaver (Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville) and forward Gervelle Kidd (East Mississippi Community College) have each transferred to UVa-Wise.

Also, the Cavs add freshman forward Zach McDaniel and freshman guard Darren Belardo.

Owens returns for this season having led the Cavs in scoring last year with 383 points in his freshman year. For the 2014-15 season, Owens averaged 13.7 points per game and 4.29 assists per game.

Matt Day, the second-leading scorer for the Cavs last season, is only 31 points away from having scored 1,000 points in his collegiate career. Day finished the season with 331 points and 177 rebounds. When speaking of Day, Coach Mellinger said, “I think he’s got the capability and potential to have a really big year. He’s lost about 25 pounds over the summer. I think he’s in the best shape of his life.”

When asked how he felt this year’s team will be different than last year’s, Mellinger said, “I think we’ll be different in a lot of ways. We’ve got more depth, we’ve got more guys who can play multiple positions which is kind of a direction that we wanted to recruit to.”

West Liberty is the favorite to win the MEC this season earning 10 of 12 first-place votes and 120 overall points in the preseason poll. UVa-Wise is ranked 12th after earning 12 overall points.

The Cavs will open up their 2015-16 season by traveling to Institute, West Virginia on November 13 to participate in the Earl Lloyd Conference Challenge hosted by West Virginia State.

Wise will face Elizabeth City State on Friday at 3 p.m. before facing Chowan University on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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