Men’s basketball looks to build on winning season

A new head coach and seven new recruits headline a year of changes for the Violets.

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Chelsea Li

(Staff Illustration by Chelsea Li)

Pablo Ocariz, Staff Writer

After last year’s mixed season for the NYU men’s basketball team, in which they had its first winning record in six years, but finished second to last in the conference, the program has made some big changes ahead of the new season.

The team hired a new head coach, Dave Klatsky — a former University of Pennsylvania player and Colgate University assistant coach — to try and build on the positives of last year. 

Six new recruits were also brought in, two who were former D-I athletes: guards Michael Savarino from Duke University and Spencer Freedman from Harvard University.

“The changes really create some excitement for this upcoming season,” senior guard Nikola Lipovic said. “We did lose some size from last season, however we gained a lot of experience from the new transfers, as well as hungry competitors from the incoming freshmen.”

The new additions will not only replace the players who were lost, but also to help improve on certain weaknesses from last season.

The Violets only had two players average more than two assists per game last year — Bobby Hawkinson and Nick Macarachuck, both of whom have now graduated. The loss of Hawkinson is the biggest hit for the Violets, as he was a key part of their inside scoring heavy offense. The 6-foot-10 forward from Illinois led the team in almost every stat last year, including points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and field goal percentage.

The addition of Freedman in particular is a huge advantage for NYU, which struggled with playmaking last year. ESPN described Freedman coming out of high school as having “an ambiguous playmaking skillset.”

“[We are] definitely missing a huge piece of last year’s team, and we’ll be lacking with size in the paint this year, but we will be playing a lot faster and playing through the guards a lot more,” Lipovic said.

This new style of play fits well with a lot of the young players they have been recruiting, and leading the charge is sophomore combo guard Zay Freeney. 

The Arizona native was the second leading scorer on the team with 10.5 points per game, and his main weapon was his elite shooting. He shot a solid 89.7% from the free throw line last year and an efficient 39.7% from the three point line on very high volume. 

In addition to the two transfers, the incoming first-years can also help implement this new, faster style of play. Forward Matthew Volkening from Illinois averaged an outstanding 25.9 points a game during his senior year of high school.

The new players, as well as the natural improvement likely to take place in the relatively young team, could come to aid the Violets in having an even better season. The team’s players are excited and hopeful, and they are putting lofty expectations on the coming season.

“Alongside all of the player additions, we have a new, very enthusiastic and hungry coaching staff that I think are just as eager, if not more, than the players to really turn this program around,” Lipovic said. “Simply put, [our goal is] win it all.” 

Contact Pablo Ocariz at [email protected]