2015-16 College Basketball Previews: Wagner Seahawks

NCAA Basketball: Wagner at Cincinnati
Sophomore guard Aaren Edmead and the Wagner Seahawks will look for a bounce-back season in 2015-16, and will do so with the bulk of last season’s production back for another go-round.

It was just two seasons ago when the Wagner Seahawks won 19 games overall and finished second in the Northeast Conference. As many teams have found out over the years, what a difference a year makes. The Seahawks went from 2nd to 7th, and time will tell if things get better or worse.

In 2015-16, the Wagner Seahawks will hope to get back to where they were just a few seasons ago. With a slew of young talent in tow, the team will look to overcome the loss of a main contributor on the offensive end.

How will the Seahawks do against the top teams in the conference? Can they build momentum in non-conference play and carry it into NEC play? Lastly, can the Seahawks put an end to their road woes and score some wins away from home? All those questions, and more, will be answered over the five-plus months of the 2015-16 season.

Below, you can read about what the Wagner Seahawks will bring to the hardwood over the course of the upcoming season.

Who’s Missing

The Wagner Seahawks saw their win total nearly cut in half in 2014-15. Two years ago, they won 19 games overall and finished second in the Northeast regular season standings. Last season, the Seahawks won just 10 games overall, and finished in a tie for 7th in the conference.

In 2015-16, Wagner is hoping for a turnaround and a climb back into contention. For that to happen, the Seahawks will have to adjust to life without their top contributor from a season ago. Guard Marcus Burton has graduated from the program, while others have transferred to finish their education elsewhere.

Last season as a senior, Burton led the Seahawks in scoring. The 6’0” guard averaged 17.5 points to go along with 2.7 rebounds per contest. He started and appeared in 29 games, averaging a shade under 34 minutes per contest (33.8). Burton shot 40.1% from the floor, and an impressive 81.1% from three point range. His departure will hurt the team’s production, but will in turn allow for others to step in and assume a larger role.

One of Burton’s fellow starters from last season is also on the move. Stedman Allen, who appeared in 29 games and made 22 starts for the Seahawks last season, transferred after last season. He averaged 6.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season.

In losing only two starters from last year’s team, and returning some key depth players in 2015-16, the Wagner Seahawks should have a high level of familiarity next season.

Who’s Returning

As stated above, the Seahawks only lose two starters, and return their fair share of depth in 2015-16. Wagner will also get a full season out of their top big man, and will be the beneficiary of adding a key graduate transfer from Penn that will add some more depth to the bench.

Big man, and former Rhode Island-transfer, Mike Aaman is back to lead the offense in the middle, while a quadruplet of sophomore guards will look to carry things from the back end. Corey Henson, Romone Saunders, and JoJo Cooper should find themselves in the starting lineup, while Aaren Edmead is a talented option off the bench and will factor into the rotation.

Mike Aaman came to Wagner from the Rhode Island Rams, and was an impact player last season in the games he played. The 6’8” forward appeared in 17 games, making 9 starts, and averaging 23.2 minutes per contest. He averaged 10.4 points per game, good for second-best on the team, and a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game. In total, he amassed 158 rebounds in 17 games.

He started to show signs of being a strong defender as the season went along. He recorded 16 blocks, 10 steals, and 83 of his rebounds came on the defensive end. Head coach Bashir Mason will be able to utilize Aaman for a full season, and that would make any coach a happy camper.

In the back court, the trio of Henson, Saunders, and Cooper are ready to take their games to the next level and help Wagner climb back into contention in the Northeast Conference. All three players put together strong freshmen campaigns in their own rights, and will look to take thing further this season.

Corey Henson was third on the team in scoring last season, averaging 9.1 points per contest while appearing in all 30 games. He shot 32.3% from three point range. Saunders put up 7.9 points per contest, while appearing in 27 games. Both should see an increase in production with more minutes surely to come their way.

The most important guard out of the trio could very well be JoJo Cooper. The native of Wilmington, DE looks like the player who will assume the everyday point guard role for the Seahawks, and for good reason. Last season, he averaged 6.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and a team-high 4.0 assists per game. Cooper recorded a team-best 121 assists, and had a 1.47 assist-to-turnover ratio as a freshman. As his playing time increases, and he gains more experience, JoJo Cooper could become one of the best point guards in the Northeast Conference this season.

Big man Greg Senat looks to see an increased role for himself this season in the front court alongside Aaman. After coming off the bench for the most of last season and averaging 3.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, the 6’8” Senat looks to become a regular in the starting lineup.

Sophomore guard Aaren Edmead will look to take on a bigger role for himself, as well. He made 2 starts a season ago, and appeared in all 30 games. He has the abilities to sub in and control the offense from the point guard position, and showed that he can shoot the long ball with confidence (36.4% in ’14-15). Having a guard like Edmead on the bench gives the coaching staff flexibility in terms of their offensive lineups, and gives them a reliable option to turn to if someone needs a break or the team needs a change of pace.

Projected Starting Five

Guard: JoJo Cooper (SO)

Guard: Romone Sanders (SO)

Guard: Corey Henson (SO)

Forward: Mike Aaman (SR)

Forward: Greg Senat (JR)

Schedule Notes

As is the case for every team in the NCAA, playing at home is much more friendly than playing on the road, and the Wagner Seahawks know exactly what that feels like. Last season, Wagner went 8 – 5 at home, and a dreadful 2 – 15 on the road, including 0 – 8 on the road in conference play.

This season, Wagner is hoping to turn things around away from Staten Island. They open up their season with two road games against two Big East opponents, in St. John’s and Seton Hall. Both the Red Storm and the Pirates have lost talent from last year’s squads, but will be stern tests right out of the gate for the Seahawks.

From there, it’s back home for four straight contests, starting with a visit from the Maine Black Bears. The College of Staten Island, Morgan State, and American Univ. all pay a visit to Staten Island on the home stand. This set of four games will likely see the Seahawks take home their first win(s) of the campaign, and they will look to build some positive momentum before heading back on the road.

Wagner will play six of their next seven contests on the road, spanning from December 8th and into January and the start of conference play. The Seahawks take on talented mid-major programs in Rider, Monmouth, Fairfield, and George Mason. Scoring wins over any of these teams will be a big boost. All will pose their own unique threats, but Wagner could very well pull off a minor road upset or two along the way.

A home date with the Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks caps off the non-conference portion of their schedule. A home game is exactly what the Seahawks could use to build some more positive momentum heading into Northeast Conference play.

The Wagner Seahawks are coming into 2015-16 looking to regain their old form from two seasons ago. After seeing their win totals cut in half last season, they are hoping that their young back court and a full season of Mike Aaman will lead to success in the Northeast Conference.

While the Seahawks have talent, there is a ton of talent in the conference, which will make things tougher for Wagner to make a dramatic climb in the standings. The Seahawks may be a year or two away from climbing back towards the top of the conference. Bear with them this season, as they will be a fun team to watch, but the results may not necessarily match the excitement.

– T.B.