Junior Matt Van Manen is a key returning starter in 2012-13

The College of Staten Island men’s basketball squad will be tipping off its season this weekend at Lebanon Valley College in the host school’s Rinso Marquette Tournament, and when they take the floor they will looking to do something they have never done before: defend a 26-win, CUNYAC Championship season, and a run to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, from a year ago.  The pressure will be high, and the expectation for excellence will continue to stare the Dolphins head-on.  Head Coach Tony Petosa, who will man the controls for his 23rd season on the sidelines knows that a repeat performance from a year ago will be a tall order, but he feels the team will have plenty of spirit when it takes the floor beginning Friday.

“It was a great season last year, and it got better as the year went on,”  Petosa said.  “It will be difficult to top that as a highlight of all of our careers, but when you achieve that success, you want to try to get back there.”

The challenge for the Dolphins is an obvious one.  Replacing six seniors, three of them starters and a pair of NABC All-Regional selections in backcourt ace T.J. Tibbs and inside threat Jordan Young.  The captains helped pioneer the team to a 26-5 finish a year ago, a perfect run through the CUNYAC, and a trip to the NCAA Division III National Tourney’s Round of 16.  To do so, the Dolphins will look to returning starters Matthew Van Manen, who returned from injury to play in 19 games a year ago, and 2011-12 leading scorer Bloochy Magloire, who currently is not on CSI’s active roster, but should join the Dolphins by midseason.  Together with CUNYAC and ECAC Metro NY/NJ Rookie of the Year Javon Cox, CSI does have a strong nucleus.

“In order for us to be successful that core will have to play well,” he said.  “We may not be as deep this year, so we have to make sure we are in good shape and ready to play good basketball, especially with the schedule we have.”

The loss of three starters could be overwhelming, but what it does for the Dolphins is provide a host of opportunities for the group in 2012-13.  The Dolphins boast a total of eight returners this season, among them senior guard Herschel Jenkins and juniors Kevin King, Frank Husslein, Dylan Bulger, Kurt Manesy, and Louis Valdes.  The veteran mix is still young, but will be counted on heavily by Petosa.

“We are going to do the best that we can to get the ship headed in the right direction and that starts with our experienced guys,” Petosa said.   “Our goal is always to be at our best at the end of the season than at the beginning, but our veterans will need to play good basketball the entire way for us to truly prosper.”

To hear Coach Petosa tell it, the Dolphins’ success will be hinged on how well his returning class performs, but the coach is equally excited of the cluster of new faces that will be at his disposal this season, among them upperclassman junior Jonathon Chadwick-Myers (Staten Island, NY/Port Richmond), who joins the team as a transfer after a quality Staten Island high school career.  Michael Tate (Staten Island, NY/Williamsburg) is another junior, while freshmen Kevin Swanberg (Staten Island, NY/St. Peter’s) and Khari Rollock (Baldwin, NY/Baldwin) also join the fray, and Petosa is hopeful to gain a couple of other faces who will clear eligibility close to midseason that can help.

“Myers is someone who can help us in the backcourt and we are excited at his experience and his maturity level coming in.  We have a lot of new faces and we hope they can adjust into roles so that when they are asked to step in, they can give us quality minutes.”

Statistical leaders in almost every offensive and defensive statistic within the CUNYAC last year, Petosa is not one to soak in the numbers.  For his team to be successful, he says, the team will need to play sound, fundamental, basketball on both sides of the  floor to merit a chance to win.  Until then, the coach is hopeful to make noise come tournament time.

“We have to prove that we can get stops when we need to and our challenge will be to do that while trying to find consistency putting the ball in the basket,” tells Petosa.  “It sounds simple, but we really want to put ourselves in a position where we can make some noise in the conference at the end of the year, and use whatever we do as a stepping stone to what we do next year and in years to come.”

The Dolphins open up on Friday evening, taking on host Lebanon Valley College at 8pm in Pennsylvania.  On Saturday, CSI will play in either the consolation or championship round against either Middlebury College or Ursinus College (1/3pm).  The 2012-13 season will feature an increase in conference contests from 11 to 16, as CSI will play every CUNYAC opponent twice leading up to the CUNYAC Postseason Tournament in late-February.  In a yearly highlight, CSI will usher in its 11th Annual Tournament of Heroes on December 29-30.  Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, SUNY Institute of Technology and Methodist College are this year’s invited teams.  CSI has never won the tournament, a testament to the national-calibur competition invited each year.

All CSI home events are FREE and (PG) CLUE Certified for all students.  Home contests will be broadcast live on WSIA, 88.9FM and www.wsia.fm with road contests webcast on CSI SportsNet via www.csidolphins.com.