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(Information in this team report is as of Oct. 1.)
COACH AND PROGRAM
The Wagner basketball program has been to one NCAA tournament (2003-04) in school history. The Seahawks' new head coach went to three during his four-year playing career at Seton Hall.
Wagner lost 26 games last season. The new head coach lost 21 games at his previous job but that was over a nine-year stretch at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J.
If there's one thing the Seahawks need to know about their new coach, it's that Dan Hurley is not used to losing.
"At St. Benedict's, if we lost two games it was a disappointing season," Hurley said.
The younger son of legendary St. Anthony High coach Bob Hurley begins his first collegiate head-coaching job at a program in need of a makeover.
Mike Deane led Wagner to 23 wins and the NEC semifinals three years ago, but the Seahawks slid the wrong way in the losing column the last two years.
Hurley's job is to send the Seahawks back up the mountain, and he brought along older brother Bobby Hurley, Jr. to help with the project. If Dan Hurley's college career looks good to his players, Bobby Hurley's is off the charts, with two national titles at Duke and the NCAA all-time assist record (1,076) on his resume.
But the Hurleys are not suiting up at Wagner, so a predominantly young squad is going to have to produce if the Seahawks want to be relevant again in the NEC.
"We are looking to build a program, and we're at the early stages," Hurley said. "But by the same token I've never as a player or a coach accepted losing."
Two of the team's top scorers return -- 5-10 point guard Chris Martin (12.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and 6-5 junior guard Tyler Murray (8.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg). The third starter in the mix is 6-4 sophomore Josh Thompson (7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg), who cracked the starting lineup in his first season.
"I like what Tyler and Chris can bring in terms of the offensive end," Hurley said. "They can both score in a variety of ways."
Hurley envisions Thompson to be more of a small forward down the road but could play him at the power spot as well early this season.
"Josh is a combo forward, but he's really more of a three for us," Hurley said. "He's the type of athlete we are excited to work with."
The team has some muscle in the backcourt with 6-2 senior T.J. Czeski (4.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg), who also plays football, coming off the bench. Last season Czeski was third on the team with 59 assists.
On the perimeter, 5-11 sophomore Danny Mundweiler (5.3 ppg) comes off a season where he shot 40.4 percent (40-for-99) from three-point range as a reserve.
Two freshmen join the backcourt mix -- 6-3 Evan Pierce, from Mt. Lebanon High in Pittsburgh, and 6-1 Latif Rivers, who played at Avon Farms last year in Connecticut.
Pierce was a holdover from Deane's recruiting class and averaged 17 points and three assist as a high school senior. Hurley likes Pierce, an off-guard, because he comes from a winning program, which is something the coach ranks high on his recruiting list.
"They know how to practice and how to compete," Hurley said of taking players from successful high school or prep teams. "They know how to fit in and sacrifice for the benefit of the team."
Rivers averaged 21 points, to go with five rebounds and four assists per game, at Avon, and his game is polished enough that he could step right into the starting lineup on opening day.
"He's an impact player for us," Hurley said. "He's projected to start as a freshman."
In addition to Thompson, the Seahawks have 6-7 senior center Clifton Spiller (2.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and 6-8 senior center Clayfell Harris (1.0 rpg) up front. Harris played in only one game before going down with a season-ending foot injury.
Also back is 6-9 sophomore Ryan Schrotenboer (1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg),
Freshman Josh Daniell, a 6-8 forward, stayed on despite the coaching change. He played high school ball at St. Patrick's in Old Bridge, N.J.
Hurley and his staff landed two more big men in 6-11 center Naofall Folahan, who is a West Africa native, and 6-8 Orlando Parker from Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep.
Folahan played last season at Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts, where he av-eraged eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
"He's a major athlete," Hurley said. "Right now he's more of a shot blocker and rebounder, and he needs to develop his offense. Down the road he has a chance to be something people haven't seen before in the conference."
Parker averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as a senior for a program that won three state titles during his stay.
"He'll be a rotation player for us, and as he gets stronger he could be a really good player," Hurley said.
BLUE RIBBON ANALYSIS
Losing basketball is not something often associated with the Hurley family, but this year's Seahawks squad is not exactly the 1992 Duke team.
Wagner has some promising players, but there are plenty of holes/roles to fill if the Seahawks want to be a factor this season in the NEC.
Besides finding some players, Wagner has two matters to address -- offense and turnovers. The Seahawks ranked 10th in scoring (60.8 ppg) and second in turnovers (518) last season.
"We're going to set reasonable goals for us," Hurley said about expectations in his first year.
One of the goals is to instill a winning attitude on a team that is comprised of several underclassmen.
"Come off the type of year we had last year, it's important," Hurley said. "We're young, and sometimes losing can eat at your passion and confidence. … I think guys are reinvigorated [now]."
Even with a young group, Hurley isn't afraid to play good teams, adding St. John's and Hofstra to the non-league schedule to help prepare the team for the NEC.
Wagner won't be at the top of the conference, but if some of the new players can make an immediate impact, they will sneak into the NEC tournament in March.
For the most comprehensive previews available on all 334 Division I teams, order the "Bible" of college basketball, the 2010-11 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or call 1-877-807-4857.