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Men's Basketball: Stewart, McDaniel set to get season started

McDaniel's, from left, Cameron Royster, Tim Stewart, Nic Martin, and Wes Brooks celebrate as time expires in the Green Terror's 59-58 win over Franklin and Marshall Saturday, Jan. 17 in Westminster.
McDaniel's, from left, Cameron Royster, Tim Stewart, Nic Martin, and Wes Brooks celebrate as time expires in the Green Terror's 59-58 win over Franklin and Marshall Saturday, Jan. 17 in Westminster. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

It was a surprise to some around the McDaniel men's basketball team and those in the Centennial Conference when Tim Stewart posted the numbers he did last season for the Green Terror.

Sure, as a transfer from Division II Neumann the season before, Stewart had a solid season. But during his junior campaign last year, Stewart became one of the conference's top scoring threats and the go-to scorer that McDaniel needed.

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Stewart and the Green Terror begin a new season against Immaculata tonight at the Gill Center, which will provide the senior forward a chance to start building off his impressive campaign a year ago.

"Coach [Kevin Curley] stresses that, 'Get Tim Stewart the ball,'" Terror senior guard Wes Brooks said. "He's one of the main guys now that teams are going to focus on stopping."

In 2014-15, few teams did that. Stewart averaged 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, both highs on the team. He was named first team all-conference and he scored 20 points or more in nine of the team's 27 games.

This came a year after Stewart scored eight points a game while averaging just 18.4 minutes.

"Last year it was kind of new and unexpected, his production inside," Curley said. "This year, he's a big focus for us. We play as a team, but we do need to make sure he's aggressive inside and get him the basketball."

Stewart and Brooks are the Terror's captains this season and two of six senior on the roster. Guard/forward Cameron Royster and guard Duane Echols are another pair of seniors that will surely contribute, as they have for most of their careers at McDaniel.

The Terror's senior class was a part of the team two years ago that won a program record 18 games, including a playoff victory on their home floor. But last year, McDaniel regressed to 14-13, 9-9 in conference play, and lost five straight to end the year, including a first-round exit in the playoffs with a loss at Gettysburg.

"Looking back at that, it's tough to lose the first one in the playoffs," Stewart said. "We definitely learned our lesson and we're coming back stronger this year."

Stewart, 6-foot-5, was often the only post player on the court a season ago. But this year, Curley said the team should have better depth down low. Senior Nick Yockey (6-6) is back after missing all of last season due to injury and junior Kevin Yrizarry (6-6) has made strides after not playing football this fall to focus solely on basketball.

However, it's not just experienced players on the Terror's roster, which features a whopping 20 players at the moment. They have seven freshmen and a total of nine players who weren't on last year's squad.

One of those first-year players is Austin Cannon, a Manchester Valley grad. Curley said he is impressed with the freshman guard's size for the position and hopes to see him contribute off the bench this season.

As for Cannon, he's just eager for tonight's opener, his collegiate debut.

"It's a lot of work, a lot different from high school," Cannon said. "It's basically what I've been looking towards since I started, just looking to see how things go and what the tempo is like."

Earlier this week, McDaniel was picked to finish fifth in the Centennial's preseason poll. That was where the Green Terror finished in the conference last season.

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But there's a whole season worth of basketball to be played and it's starting a week earlier for McDaniel this season. It begins with Immaculata before the conference slate gets under way in less than two weeks.

For Brooks, it's all about bouncing back from the rough end to last season and making their season go deeper into February.

"Losing last year, it's kind of like we took a step back," Brooks said. "We're used to it and comfortable, and we definitely want to go further than we have in the past."

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