As UMass Lowell opens their second season in Division I, the main question head coach Pat Duquette has is who will play when they open the season at Ohio State.
“We’re going into this year with a sense of excitement, but we’re so much different than we were a year ago,” Duquette said. “It’s really hard to know what to expect again.”
The River Hawks bring in eight freshmen to a team that finished fifth in their first America East season, though the second-year head coach admits that it will be difficult for last season’s momentum to translate to this one.
“It’s hard to see how last year is going to have any impact on this year,” Duquette said. “I think it’s going to be a total clean slate for us. We’re starting from scratch again and hopefully it works out as well this year as it did last year.”
The main question that Duquette and his staff want to address during the next few weeks will be who they will choose to redshirt. He said that the staff have had conversations on whom they might redshirt, so that they can separate their incoming recruiting class of eight freshmen.
“You can make the argument for a lot of different guys, guys that aren’t ready or guys that are ready but have a bigger upside,” Duquette said. “We haven’t made the decision and we’ve talked about a bunch of different guys for different reasons.”
One freshman that Duquette will not be able to redshirt is freshman Jahad Thomas, who sat out last season after tearing his ACL.
“Jahad has made a ton of progress in the year off,” Duquette said of his program’s first signee. “He’s really committed himself to making his year off work well for him and he’s lost a bunch of weight. He’s in great shape, he’s extremely competitive and hungry and I think he’s going to be ready to play right away.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.