York College men's basketball coach Matt Hunter believes his program has turned a corner.
During his first three years at the helm, the Spartans have struggled, compiling a 17-59 overall mark, including a 5-20 record a season ago.
Entering his fourth year, Hunter thinks the 2015-2016 team will be his best Spartan squad to date.
"I love the chemistry on this team. I love the leadership of this team and I really love where we are at as a program," he said. "Our guys do a great job of playing together and playing for each other."
The Spartans are still very young across the board, but they also feature a core of seasoned players who have weathered the Capital Athletic Conference wars.
Lone senior: The Spartans have a senior for the first time in two years — guard Chris Conway, who is the undisputed leader of the squad.
"Chris is one of the best leaders I have been around in all my years of coaching basketball," Hunter said. "His ability to get these guys organized and on the same page is going to benefit us greatly this season."
Conway averaged 4.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 19 minutes per game as a junior.
Seasoned juniors: Juniors Dalton Myers and Brad Wesner are a pair of seasoned veterans who will play big roles for the Spartans in 2015-16.
The 6-foot, 7-inch Myers is York's top returning scorer at 13.5 points per game. He shot a team-best 52.3 percent from the floor while he also converting 74.7 percent of his attempts from the free throw line. Myers enjoyed a career-high 34-point outburst in the Coaches vs. Cancer game vs. Lebanon Valley.
"Dalton is a guy who is going to be a great low post threat for us," Hunter said. "What makes him dangerous is his ability to step out on the perimeter and knock down jumpers. He is one of the best players in our conference."
Wesner, from nearby Trinity High School, returns as one of the top perimeter shooters on the squad. He averaged 7.5 points per game last year, converting 32.9 percent of his 3-pointers and 83.3 percent of his free throws.
"Brad is a guy who will be very important for us," Hunter said. "He is a composed and experienced guard who understands the way we need him to play. Brad is a leader on the floor and a very good spot-up shooter."
Talented sophomores: Hunter welcomes back four talented sophomores. Guard Mike Duffy, guard Matt Scamuffo, forward Blayde Reich and forward Zack Galic.
Duffy, a South Western High School graduate, averaged 6.5 points, 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game last year, when he averaged 24 minutes per contest.
"Mike was really banged up at the end of the year," Hunter said. "We have worked hard to maintain his health early in the year and he has been great early on. He brings a great toughness, focus and determination to the squad."
Scamuffo averaged 8.2 points per game, shooting 36.9 percent from distance.
"Matt had a good freshman year," says Hunter. "He is a kid with a high ceiling. Matt shot the ball well and did other good things last year. I expect him to do even more this year."
Five-member freshman class: Hunter welcomes in a five-member freshman class to the program. Guard Jason Bady, guard Mike Frauenheim, guard Mike Coleman, guard Colin Costello and forward Jared Noble.
The 6-4 Coleman is a Northeastern grad.
"Each of these guys brings something a little different to the team," Hunter said. "It's a good group of players who will contribute to this program, in some way, this year. I am excited to have each of these guys on the team."
Early schedule: The Spartans open the season with a series of difficult contests highlighted by their season opener at Stevenson on Friday, Nov. 13. That is followed by the home opener against Gettysburg on Monday, Nov. 16.
York hosts its annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday, Nov. 20, when they host Wilson, while Pitt-Greensburg and McDaniel tangle in the other semifinal. The consolation game tips at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, followed by the championship game at 3 p.m.
York tips off the Capital Athletic Conference campaign on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at home against Wesley.
Information and quotes for this story were provided by York College.