Menlo College is locked and loaded to hit the court for what promises to be another exciting season of Oaks Men's Basketball. The 2012-13 edition of the team features a wealth of experience, depth, and energy, three prominent factors that should determine the success of Menlo this season.
The Oaks enter the start of their campaign with a roster chock full of veteran presence. Ten of Menlo's 14 players are either juniors or seniors, much to the delight of third year Head Coach Jon Surface. "Leadership is a big strength of ours," commented Surface on his team's level of experience. "Having ten upperclassmen and a lot of past collegiate experience means more maturity and more knowledge of what it's like to play in big games."
Headlining the list of upperclassmen is senior ChaRunn Jones, the reigning California Pacific Conference Newcomer of the Year. In Jones' first season in Menlo blue and white, the native of Fresno finished second on the team with 15.5 points per game, while establishing himself as one of the best three point shooters in the conference. Jones nailed 85 triples last year, while shooting at a remarkable 41 percent clip.
Other key returning Oaks to keep a keen eye on are a trio of juniors in Malik Dunbar, Carlos Monroy, and John Smith. Dunbar serves as a crucial inside force after wrapping up 2011-12 with 5.0 rebounds per game, a mark that was good enough for second on the team. Monroy brings starting experience into his third season with the Oaks, tallying 27 total starts over the last two years at the point guard position. As far as Smith is concerned, the native of Tracy, CA brings explosiveness and an ability to drive to the basket to the forefront. This was put on full display in Menlo's lone playoff game last season, as Smith racked up a career high 26 points while getting to the free throw line on 13 occasions.
Shifting to a newcomer perspective, don't sleep on junior Keith Bowman with his imposing 6-7, 225lb. size at the forward position. Junior guard Dante Miller brings versatility to the table as a player who can get to the basket, is quick in transition, and can shoot the ball as well. Menlo and Coach Surface are also enthusiastic about freshman guard David Abittan. According to Surface, "He is a mature and savvy point guard for his age and David should make his way into the rotation early in the season."
The Oaks are hoping for production from juniors Patrick Greene and Charles Barnes, two players that should be back from injury at some point in the season and can really help bolster Menlo's depth. In the words of Coach Surface, "Patrick is a high energy guy who brings a lot of leadership to the table," while "Charles is as versatile as they come. He can shoot from the perimeter or take it inside."
The Oaks talented mixture of returners and newcomers will have the task of filling the holes left by the departures of some key seniors from the 2011-12 squad. Menlo said goodbye to the conference Player of the Year and 2nd Team All-American, Tim Tatum, along with Cal Pac Honorable Mention and four-year player, Andrew Young.
The Oaks begin this year's run at their second California Pacific Conference championship in the last three years ranked third in the preseason poll, trailing the top seeded Keelhaulers of Cal Maritime, and the number two ranked Warriors of William Jessup. As far as Coach Surface is concerned, if the Oaks can learn to be patient and let all their moving parts come together, Menlo should be a force to be reckoned with.
"We have a lot of different pieces that can do a lot of different things," Surface said. "We have a number of scoring threats, so I think it's important that we stay patient and make sure we get the best look and best shot available."
Along with patience as a key element, the Oaks team chemistry is, according to Surface, "the best since I have been here." Menlo will also bank on a balanced scoring attack and the ability to sustain high energy throughout the course of each game to help guide the Oaks to success in 2012-13.
Menlo jumps right into the heat of their schedule, opening up on the road with a two-game swing against a pair of GSAC (Golden State Athletic Conference) schools in Vanguard on Thursday, October 25th and Biola on Saturday, October 27th. The Oaks home opener is slated for Thursday, November 1st against Corban University. Menlo clashes with two NCAA Division I schools, an exhibition at UC Davis on November 6th, and then a matchup at Cal Poly on December 8th. The annual Lamont Ramsey Classic is scheduled for November 23rd and November 24th, as Menlo will go up against two out of state teams in Arizona Christian and Florida's Johnson & Wales. The Oaks big road trip will see them travel to Hawaii to take on Hawaii Pacific University on December 16th and Upper Iowa University on December 17th. California Pacific Conference play opens up on January 10th, as Menlo will travel to Simpson University.