Nov. 18, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The MIT Engineers kick off the 2005-06 campaign on Saturday versus Emmanuel College at 5 p.m. The Saints edged MIT 68-65 in the newly-opened Jean Yawkey Center last season, but this year's match will feature a completely re-tooled lineup for the Cardinal and Gray.
MIT returns its top player in senior Mike D'Auria, who finished third in assists and fourth in scoring in the NEWMAC last season. A First Team All-Conference selection, D'Auria has been the heart and soul of the Engineers' attack over the last two years, but emerging talent could actually bolster D'Auria's impact, even if his numbers don't match previous season totals.
Solidifying the point guard spot will serve as a major boost for head coach Larry Anderson and D'Auria. While D'Auria has been pressed to run the point for the Tech offense for much of the last two years, the return of Danny Kanamori to the lineup gives Tech a proven starter up top. During his rookie season, Kanamori finished eighth in the nation in assists, and will have an opportunity to climb back into that echelon with talented shooters lining up on both wings. Kanamori is a vocal leader on the floor and has a feel for the game that is on par with some of the best players in Anderson's tenure at the Institute.
Besides Kanamori, freshman Bradley Gampel has enjoyed a solid preseason and will factor into the rotation at the point. Gampel is a bit of a throw-back to point guards of the past, with a work ethic that goes through the roof. He manages the game well, and will surely increase his minutes as the season progresses.
Freshman Jimmy Bartolotta will likely get the call at the wing spot opposite of D'Auria. Bartolotta does a number of things well. A slasher, who can defend and finish, it will be difficult to keep him off the court, especially as he adjusts to the pace of the college game. Bartolotta joins the Cardinal and Gray with the best prep resume and seems to be most ready to contribute right away.
If Bartolotta does get the nod, he will be pressed immediately by sophomore Will Mroz and junior Alex Krull. Krull is one of the best on-ball defenders on the team and has a thorough understanding of the system. He has grown tremendously and has worked hard in the offseason to strengthen his game.
Although he may be better served sparking the Tech attack from off the bench, no one on the team is more explosive offensively than Will Mroz. Mroz boasts tremendous range and a lightening fast release. He is an extremely hard worker and his confidence could enable him to develop into the team's leading scorer if he can become more consistent with his shot selection.
Sophomore Alan Ho and freshman Brandon Suarez add depth to an already promising lineup in the backcourt. Ho is the ultimate team guy; and although it wasn't reflected in his minutes from last season, his energy and enthusiasm have become a giant part of the MIT program. Like Ho, Suarez has a bright future, although it may take some time to find out how he best fits in the MIT system.
The frontcourt isn't as power-packed as Tech's powerful contingent of guards, but emerging play from veterans and a few new faces will certainly give the Engineers a stronger presence than the last few seasons. Seniors Phil Murray and Gary Atkins have a solid understanding of the team's system and will be relied upon to help pace the low-post offense. Murray is equipped with the most versatile set of skills in the group, while Atkins is the best passing big man. He also has the ability to make his teammates better, and probably no one on the squad is better at forcing charges.
The X factor up front will be the improvement of Hamidou Soumare. Dou is a glass eater and a disciplined shot blocker. Although still unproven on the offensive end, he possesses imposing athletic skill and has boosted his low-post game. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he could emerge as one of the dominant post players in the NEWMAC.
Also aiding in Tech's quest for a league crown is sophomore Barnett Koryan and the rookie tandem of Billy Johnson and Adam Juneau. Koryan is a deceptively good passer and strong in the paint. He's undersized, but has improved dramatically and could see some playing time as the MIT coaching staff figure out their rotations.
Juneau will be a work in progress for the Engineers, but as they say, you can't teach size. At 6'10", Juneau is the tallest player Anderson has ever coached at MIT. He finishes well inside and can step out and hit the mid-range jumper, but will need to add muscle and adopt a better understanding of the system before he can truly become an impact player.
Another player with seemingly unlimited potential is Billy Johnson. Much different than Tech's other frontcourt guys, Johnson can and likely play the wing as well. Arguably the best pure shooter on the roster, Johnson can stroke the three with ease, and will probably play some point-forward during the season.
If MIT defeats the Saints, they will play the winner of Western Connecticut and SUNY Geneseo on Sunday at 5 p.m. Saturday's losers will play in the consolation game of the Emmanuel Tournament at 1 p.m.