Johns Hopkins Men's Basketball Season Preview
Coach Loeffler's Interview at Inside PressBox
A New Era
A new era of Johns Hopkins men's basketball begins on Wednesday as head coach Josh Loeffler takes over for Bill Nelson, who retired last June after 31 seasons with the Blue Jays. Loeffler inherits nine letter-winners and three starters from last year's squad that went 16-10 and finished in a tie for second in the Centennial Conference. Hopkins opens the season on November 15 as Marymount visits Goldfarb Gym for a non-conference contest.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Seniors Kyle Doran and Jesse Flannery will captain the Blue Jays this season. Doran who served as a captain last year, started all but one game and averaged 11.7 points, 5.0 rebound and 1.2 assists. He led the team in scoring while ranking in second in rebounds and three-point field goals (36). Flannery has played every game in the last two seasons and started 20 during that same period. Last year, he averaged 2.5 points, 1.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds. As a sophomore, he handed out a career-best 2.6 assists per game.
Around the Centennial
Hopkins was picked to finish fifth in the 2017-18 Centennial Conference Preseason Men's Basketball Poll of head coaches and athletic communications directors. Swarthmore is picked to repeat as the conference champion and earned 14 first-place votes and 157 points. Franklin & Marshall garnered two first-place votes and 137 points to come in second. Dickinson is third with 131 points and three first-place votes and Ursinus is fourth with 116 points and one first-place vote. Hopkins rounds out the top five with 104 points.
In addition to Doran and Flannery, the Blue Jays return juniors Joey Fitzpatrick, Michael Gardner, Noah Ralby, Kabir Suri and Daniel Vila. Sophomores Harry O'Neil and Mac Rowan are also back for their second season with the Blue Jays.
Flannery and Ralby return at the point guard position and will be joined by Delaney. Flannery, who has played in 74 games in his career, is the Blue Jays' active assist leader with 112 helpers in his career. He is also second among all returners with 30 career steals. Ralby returns after playing in all 26 games and averaging 1.8 points, 1.4 boards and nearly one assist per game. Delaney is a strong and fast player with a solid understanding of both sides of the ball. He is making a strong push to see a lot of time at the point this season.
Returning at the two spot are Gardner and Rowan, who will be joined by Chibututu, Groetsch, Kern and Murren. Gardner earned Second Team All-Centennial honors last season after averaging 11 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He led the team in three-point field goals (52) and three-point percentage, while ranking second in assists and third in scoring. A good shooter, Rowan saw action in 12 games last season and should see more time once he is healthy.
Chibututu is an unknown commodity as he's been injured this preseason. A strong player, he is a nice addition to the team. Groetsch is a tough, physical player who plays bigger than his size. Very competitive, he can handle the ball as well as hit open shots for the Blue Jays. Kern is a good athlete who has really started to shoot the ball well and is making a push to see a lot of playing time. Murren joins the Blue Jays as a sophomore and has picked things up really quickly. An intelligent player, he really knows how to play without the ball.
Doran and Fitzgerald return the small forward position for Loeffler and the Blue Jays. After missing significant time as a sophomore, Doran returned to earn First Team All-Centennial Conference honors last season. A versatile player, he ranked third in the league in three-point percentage, ninth in free throws, 12th in rebounds and 13th in scoring. Fitzpatrick has seen limited time in the last two years but is poised for a strong junior season.
Returning at the four spot this season are Vila, O'Neil and Suri. Vila had an impressive sophomore campaign in which he averaged 6.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He shot better than 51 percent from the field and ranked second in the league with 46 blocks. He and O'Neil can provide a great one-touch punch in the post for the Blue Jays. They each bring size and strength to the position and could cause problems for JHU's opponents. O'Neil is another player that has been hampered by injury this preseason but should be back early in the season. Suri is back for his second season after joining the team as a sophomore. He saw action in 11 games last season and shot over 57 percent from the field while averaging nearly two points and one rebound per game.
By The Numbers
1 2017-18 marks the first season for head coach Josh Loeffler
3 Three starters return for the Blue Jays (Vila, Gardner, Doran)
3.47 Members of the Johns Hopkins men's basketball team combined for a 3.47 GPA last spring
5 Johns Hopkins is predicted to finish fifth in the Centennial Conference
9 Nine letter-winners return from last season's 16-10 team
93 This season marks the 93rd for the Blue Jay men's basketball program