WINTER PARK, Fla. (October 26, 2017) – With the magical 2016-17 season in the rearview mirror, the Rollins men's basketball teams now sets it sights on the new season and its high expectations and challenges.
Rollins returns the core of its 2017 Elite Eight team and gets a senior back from an injury to bolster one of the most experienced line-ups in the Sunshine State Conference.
Veteran head coach Tom Klsuman is now in his 38th season leading Rollins and is on track to eclipse the 700-win milestone, coming into the year with a record of 677-393. The Rollins alum is fifth among active Division II coaches and 10th all-time.
What looked to be a rare lost season in January turned into one for the record books for the Tars. A close win at Saint Leo sparked a five-game winning streak to get Rollins back on track. After back to back losses, Rollins went on to win 11-straight, rolling through the Sunshine State Conference Tournament and NCAA Division II South Region Tournament. The Tars needed two Connor Mckim buzzer beaters to win the SSC championship and then had to face the top-three teams from the Gulf South Conference, including beating Alabama-Huntsville on its home floor, to advance to the Elite Eight.
Rollins graduated defensive specialist Joey Galvis and starting center Mike Bedulskis from its historic 2016-17 team. Galvis set a new school record with 85 steals, leading the SSC and finishing fourth in the nation. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.5 assists per game. Bedulskis was a three-year starter and put up 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds a game last year.
Jeff Merton was named second team All-SSC, earning MVP honors of both the SSC Tournament and South Region Tournament. He averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game as a junior. Sam Philpott was the top scorer for the Tars, netting 15.3 points and 4.1 rebounds a night. Connor Mckim was the SSC Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.1 points and a team-best 3.9 assists a game as the Tars starting point guard.
Back for the Tars are seven of their eight leading scorers from last year, including All-America candidates Philpott and Merton. Deion Clark returns for his senior season after only playing five games last year due to injury. Mckim will again run the point for the Tars offense that is bolstered by junior Eric Castaneda (8.1 ppg), sophomore Jakobi Bonner (5.9 ppg) and senior Jack Fleming (5.8 ppg). Nils Lehmann started 22 games and is back for the Tars as is Blake Admire (2.6 ppg), Marcus Camacho and Daniel Loh.
Freshmen Parker Davis and Christian Munson will suit up for the Tars this season after spending last year as redshirts. The duo earned valuable experience as part of the team and are both expected to make an impact early in the season.
Rollins opens the year hosting Clark-Atlanta and Morehouse in the 2017 South Region Crossover Nov. 10-11. SSC play begins the second week of the season with Florida Tech visiting Warden Arena on Nov. 15. After a trip to Lynn on Nov. 21, the first month of the season closes with home games against Puerto Rico Bayamon, Florida Memorial and Embry-Riddle.
December starts with a trip to Barry on the 2nd and is followed by a three-game home stand against Southeastern, Warner and Saint Leo before final exams. Rollins will host the Las Vegas Classic at the Doolittle Center, facing Midwestern State (Dec. 18) and West Texas A&M (Dec. 19). The Buffs were nationally ranked the entire season and advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago.
The Tars then return from the holiday break to visit Eckerd on Dec. 30 and start the Wednesday-Saturday grind of the SSC schedule. Rollins is at Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 3 before hosting Nova Southeastern and Tampa and then going to Florida Southern to close the first half of the SSC schedule. The league schedule then repeats, leading up to the SSC Tournament Feb. 28-March 4. Jenkins Field House in Lakeland will host the semifinals and finals. The NCAA South Region Tournament runs March 10-13 with the Elite Eight back at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota March 21-24.
Fans will enjoy the new Tars Sports Network as part of the Sunshine State Conference Digital Network. All games can be viewed on a desktop, mobile or OTT boxes at SunshineStateConference.tv.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Rollins women's basketball team, fans can visit RollinsSports.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest #TARnation news by following Rollins Sports on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.