Men's Basketball Opens 2016-17 Season at No. 25 Maryland

Men's Basketball Opens 2016-17 Season at No. 25 Maryland

Fri., Nov 11 – 7 p.m. – College Park, Md. — XFINITY Center (17,950)
American (0-0) at No. 25 Maryland (0-0)
All-Time Record: Maryland leads 15-2
Last Meeting: Maryland 67, American  51 — Dec. 22, 2008
TV: Big Ten Network — Adam Amsinger (pxp), Dan Bonner (analyst)

American Game Notes
Maryland Game Notes

WASHINGTON — The American University men's basketball team will tip off the 2016-17 season on Friday evening against No. 25 Maryland at the XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland.

The Eagles finished 12-19 last season while the Terrapins fell to Kansas in the Sweet 16. American finished the season on a high note, winning 10 of the last 14, reaching the PL Semifinals after knocking off Boston U. (69-64) in the quarters.


Ep. 1: AU Hoop Talk with Mike Brennan

The first episode of AU Hoop Talk with Mike Brennan Live from Maggiano's in Chevy Chase.


• The last time the Eagles and Terps met each other, UMD came away with a 67-51 win at the XFINITY Center on Dec. 22, 2008. In the previous game, on the same date in 2007, it was AU who took home the win, 67-59. Three Eagles scored in double figures and were led by Derrick Mercer with 18 points. Bruce Simon had 17 points and Brian Gilmore had 12 off the bench. 


• Maryland leads the all-time record 15-2 over American. In the last two meetings between AU and Maryland, the Eagles went on to win the Patriot League and reach the NCAA Tournament. 


• Patriot League coaches and sports information directors have picked American to finish fifth in the Patriot League. This was the same spot AU was selected last season before finishing the season tied for fourth place. 


• Sophomore Delante Jones was the only underclassman selected to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team. Jones, selected as the 2015-16 Patriot League Men's Basketball Rookie of the Year, is the top returning scorer, scoring 12.0 points per game as a rookie. A pure shooter, Jones shot 43 percent from the field and connected on 39 attempts from the outside. Jones worked on his ball-handling skills over the summer to try and lessen his turnovers after having the most giveaways last season with 79. The Chantilly, Virginia, native came on down the stretch by scoring in double figures in 13 of his final 14 games, and his performance had a great impact for his team as American won nine of its final 12 Patriot League games to finish at .500 in League action after a 0-6 start. Jones placed eighth in scoring (14.2 ppg) during Patriot League action and in the top 20 for the season at 12.0 ppg, leading all freshmen in both categories. He scored 18 points or more eight times during the season, with seven of those coming in Patriot League games. He became American's third Patriot League Rookie of the Year recipient, and first in a decade since Derrick Mercer won the honor in 2006. Jones will be asked to carry the load this season with the graduation of Jesse Reed after four years of service to the Eagles.


• Thrown into the starting lineup after the first six games, sophomore James Washington ran the point for the Eagles and shined late in the season. He is the second top returning scorer after netting 6.4 points per game in his rookie campaign. Washington had 33 assists and 23 steals. The California native will be asked to continue running the point but could be moved over to the shooting guard spot later in the season. 


• Junior transfer Matt Cimino has been cleared to play this season after moving over from George Washington. Cimino played three games last season for the Colonials before injuring his foot during practice.  He is the fourth transfer player to play for head coach Mike Brennan at American. In his first seasons, Brennan had Pee Wee Gardner from Stephen F. Austin. Last season, the Eagles welcomed Leon Tolksdorf from UConn and Paris Maragkos from GW. 


• 2016 graduates Jesse Reed and Paris Maragkos have signed professional contracts for the 16-17 season. On Oct. 24, Reed signed in Luxembourg with Residence Walferdange. He is one of three American-born players on the squad. Although he played one season with American, Maragkos obtained his degree at American before signing a four-year deal with Greek club Olympiacos. Maragkos joins a roster filled with professional players from all over the world, including Erick Green (Virginia Tech / Reno (NBA D-League)), Nikola Milutinov (San Antonio Spurs), Kostas Papanikolaou (NY Knicks/Denver Nuggets) and former Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry.


Laurynas Motuzis will have to sit out the 16-17 season after transferring from Saint Xavier University (NAIA). Motuzis is a sharp-shooting specialist who shot 41 percent from the field and 38 percent from the outside. He was born in Lithuania. 


•  A three-point shooter and tough defender, Jalen Rhea made his first start as a junior and finished with 4.3 points per game. Rhea hit the game-winning three at Youngstown State, playing in front of his friends and family in his native Ohio. Rhea had a pair of games last season where he buried everything he touched from the outside. On the road against Navy, Rhea shot 5-of-8 from the outside for 15 points. He broke a bit of a drought from the outside, as he shot 2-of-22 in the previous seven matches. Rhea led the eagles with 15 points in their 69-64 upset over Boston U. in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. 


•  American's sixth-man, Charlie Jones started the opening 15 games before moving to his role as the top reserve. One of the best defenders in the PL, Jones will guard the oppositions top scorer — regardless of size —and finished with 16 blocks and 34 steals. Jones scored in double figures in three of the final six games. 


•  American has nine underclassmen on the roster this season.  The Eagles relied heavily on all four rookies with two (Jones and Washington) in the starting lineup and Andrija Matic and Lonnie Rivera used off the bench. All four are expected to make serious contributions once again. Freshmen Sa'eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini will make immediate impacts this season at point guard and center. 


• One of the best guards to come out of Saint Augustine Prep in New Jersey, Nelson was named the 2016 Daily Journal and Courier Post Player of the Year. Nelson played for Paul Rodio, who was coached assistant coach Scott Greenman when he was a high school star. Nelson is a fast, play-making point guard, with an exceptional feel for the game.

Gasperini will vie for time at the center position after playing for Tom Nelson at Brimmer and May. Mark is a highly skilled, mobile big man. He can make open threes, score on the block and is an adept passer.