The 2009-2010 season will mark the debut of a new team on the Division III Men’s Basketball scene when The Sage Colleges begin play. Brian Barnes has been tapped to direct the program. He is a former team tri-captain for the University at Albany Great Danes and a former assistant men’s basketball coach at nearby Division III RPI.
Hired in June of 2008, Barnes has been very busy laying the foundation for the first Gator Division III men’s team as the former Sage Junior College at Albany played for several years in the ranks of the National Junior College Association until the 2002-2003 season.
Barnes will be joined on the bench by Michael Foust, a 2003 St. Michael’s graduate, who has spent the past year helping to build the Gators’ basketball program with his hard work on the recruiting scene. A former assistant with Barnes at RPI, Foust is familiar with the Capital Region basketball landscape, both scholastically as well as with AAU.
Barnes and Foust have recruited an enthusiastic and talented class that includes a pair of transfers and 16 freshmen. Among the players Barnes is expecting to step up and provide leadership will be junior guard Ryan Harris (Hudson Falls, NY/Glens Falls) who comes to Sage after averaging 16.167 ppg in 18 games played at Adirondack Community College a year ago, while junior guard Garret Bishop (Saratoga, NY/Saratoga Springs) has experienced considerable success already on his collegiate career. The pair gives the Gators both scoring ability and experience the young squad will most certainly need.
At ACC, Harris handed out 122 assists while adding 65 steals to
his resume and was an accurate sharp shooter with a 35.0% average
on 50-of-143 from beyond the arc.
As a freshman, Bishop played and starred at Nichols College. He played in all 25 games adding 16 starts. He averaged 12.7 points per game which was good for second on the 2007-2008 .His 12.7 points was also 18th best in The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC) as well as first among freshmen in the conference. Bishop’s 82.1% free throw percentage was good for fourth in the conference as well. He added 52 assists which were good for second on the team. Bishop was named TCCC Rookie of the Year and was selected TCCC Rookie of the Week twice throughout the season.
That success carried over to his stint at nearby Hudson Valley Community College, where he helped the program enjoy the most successful season in team-history. The squad would advance to the national semifinals of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament only to fall in the national semifinals, 59-57 to the eventual national champion, Richland Community College (TX). For the season, Bishop started 35 of 36 games played and was rewarded for his excellent play with a spot on the 2009 NJCAA National Championship All-Tournament Team after also earning a place on the All-Mountain Valley Conference Third Team. He would net 327 points, good enough for a 9.1 ppg average after also handing out 112 assists with 31 steals. A talented sharp-shooter, he hit 44.1% of his shots from three-point range (56-127).
Rounding out the newcomers at the guard position is a talented group of newcomers. Amongst the players expected to contribute here are Mervin Springer (Copiague, NY/Copiague), Jeff Stopera (Scotia, NY/Scotia Glenville), Steven King (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia), Sigbert Guy (Brooklyn, NY/East New York Transit Tech), Trevor Dillard (New York, NY/Thurgood Marshall), and Justin Brignola (Clifton Park, NY/Shenendehowa).
Brignola is joined on the roster by a former team mate, forward Matt Lee (Ballston Lake, NY/Shenendehowa) and the pair has considerable experience together as they helped their team to a 21-2 record and lost in the semifinals of the sectional tournament.
Springer finished his senior season as the fourth leading scorer on Long Island a year ago after averaging 25.0 ppg. He was a three-time all-conference pick at forward as well as an all-division and sectional all-star. A two-year team captain, he also helped his team to a pair of league championship titles as well as a county and Long Island Championship crown.
A member of Sage’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Stopera comes to Sage after a stellar scholastic career at Scotia Glenville High, where he set school marks for most three-point baskets in a game and most career assists. A first-team all-league player, he was a team captain as a senior.
Steven King finished his career as Columbia High School’s all-time leading three-point shooter and earned all-league and team MVP honors. Guy has experienced success and helped his high school squad to the 2007-2008 City Championship title, while Dillard was a three-time team MVP in high school.
Barnes will find depth at the forward position from the likes of six-foot-three inch Matt Farbotko (Rouses Point, NY/Northeastern Clinton). A four-time all-star, he served as team captain twice and finished his scholastic career as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,377 points. He averaged 20.7 ppg as a senior and wrapped his career tied for 12th on the all-time scoring list for Section VII boy’s basketball. During his senior year, he was part of the Cougars’ 22-game win streak that at the time was the second most in the state. An accomplished player on the boards as well, only once during his senior season did he fail to add a double-double.
An accomplished two-sport athlete in both football and basketball, Jonathan Castillo (Orlando, FL/Timber Creek) arrives on campus with high expectations. A two-year team captain in basketball, Castillo was the recipient of the coaches’ award as a senior and helped the basketball team finish second in the district and 13th in Central Florida. As a member of the football team, he helped the squad win the district title and finish 12th in Central Florida.
Another two-sport athlete, Keith Smith (Babylon, NY/Babylon) has experienced success and acclaim in both track and on the hardwood, earning all-league honors and six varsity letters, while Troy Walley (Forestport, NY/Town of Webb) excelled in four sports in high school. The former National Honor Society student, Walley played basketball, soccer, track and field and ran cross country, earning all-star honors in cross country and was a state qualifier in track and field.
At six-foot-four inches, Kenny Kelly (Goshen, NY/Goshen) gives Barnes and his staff options. Kelly was the Section Nine three-point leader as a senior and is a former team captain and Sixth Man Award winner. He helped his team to the first round of the Section Nine Tournament and balances the Gators’ lineup with the addition of Mason Horne (Albany, NY/LaSalle Institute) and Alex King (Saratoga Springs, NY/Saratoga Springs). Horne is a former team captain, who earned All-City Troy honors as a junior and senior, while King earned numerous awards and scholarships during his scholastic career.
Look for Barnes to get depth at the center position from the likes of six-foot-seven inch Hunter Morris (New York, NY/Graphic Communication Arts) and six-foot four inch Jake Douty (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia). Morris was named the Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie and by the time he was a senior was tapped as team captain and MVP, also earning a spot on the all-league team for his outstanding play. Douty won the sportsmanship award as well as Most Improved and team MVP honors during his scholastic career.
All told, the Gators will be young, but they have the necessary depth and talent on the roster to survive the rigors of the Skyline Conference and make a run for post-season action by season’s end.
The new era of Sage basketball opens on November 15 as cross-town rival, RPI will visit the confines of the Kahl Campus Center in the first Division III men’s basketball contest for the Gators. By week’s end, Southern Vermont College and Albany College of Pharmacy will also face the Gators in home action. Sage will have host 14 opponents in the coming year before the regular-season culminates in late February.
Additional non-conference opponents include Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and College of St. Joseph’s (VT) will test the Gators by season’s end.
A newcomer to action in the Skyline Conference, Sage will face stiff competition in the league with hopes of garnering a spot in the 2010 Skyline Conference Tournament and a shot at the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. Among the team’s the Gators will face will be 2009 Skyline Champion, St. Joseph’s College, while 2009 runner-up, Farmingdale State College advanced to the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Division III Championship. All told, the Skyline Conference sent three teams to post-season play a year ago as Maritime College was also chosen for the 2009 ECAC Division III Metro Tournament.
A home and home series awaits the Gators in the conference. Among the league opponents Sage will host this coming season will be Farmingdale State College on December 5 in the program’s first home Skyline Conference game. Mount Saint Mary College visits the Kahl Campus Center on December 9, before the end of the first semester. In the new year, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, SUNY College at Old Westbury, Yeshiva University, Bard College, Purchase College, NYU-Poly, Maritime College, and St. Joseph’s College will all test the Gators at home in the coming year.