Though Saint Peter’s finished 3-games under .500 last season, they managed to win seven of their final 10 games, a sign that bodes well for a team that returns all of their key pieces for a run in 2015.
Seniors Marvin Dominique and Desi Washington led the team in scoring last season with 16.6 and 13.5 points per game respectively and each will be asked to lead the way again this season. Amongst their senior leaders, they believe the late season run was a turning point that will help them as they seek a MAAC championship.
“We didn’t know what it took to win games, and it was a learning process throughout, the whole season,” Washington said. “Finally it clicked for us and we found that way to win. Now we know what it takes to win this season with a good group of guys and a good number of the same guys back for this year that we had last year.”
The Peacocks return four of their five starters from last season as Chris Burke’s graduation was the only loss. The Peacocks also add key additions in freshmen Elisha Boone and Rodney Hawkins to go with junior college transfers Simeon Dennis and Travis Hester. Hawkins has to sit out and will be eligible after the first semester.
“The new guys have fit in so well,” Dominique said. “They really want to learn how we do things over here. It’s really nice because they just fit.”
The last time the Peacocks put together a five-game winning streak was 2011, when they put two together and in March made the NCAA tournament. However, the year before, when they finished 16-14, they put together one such streak of five straight victories.
Washington, as one of the more veteran players on the team, has seen it from both sides. He jumped into a new team as a transfer from Delaware State and over the last two seasons has seen the group around him change.
“It seems as though things are falling into place now and that we have a really really good shot of making a significant run,” Washington said.
While they will need the seniors to lead the way, Saint Peter’s will also need further contributions from players such as sophomore Trevis Wyche, who said that he keeps in mind the score of their 72-58 loss to Manhattan that ended last season.
“It brought us together, but earlier in the year we had a big win against Seton Hall and then we just still went up and down,” Wyche said. “Winning those last seven out of 10 really boosted our confidence and we always remember the score of playing Manhattan. We’re just ready to move forward and keep working hard and hopefully get a ring this year.”
Even in the Peacocks final game, they led the Jaspers by as many as seven early in the second half before Manhattan pulled away to win the quarterfinal game. While Saint Peter’s was able to maintain the league’s best scoring defense, allowing 65.9 points per game, their offense needs to improve after ranking dead last in scoring (63.3 points per game).
“They want us to step up offensively, that has been emphasized a little bit more this year, but we’re really a defensive team,” Dominique said. “We want to be the best team defensively in the MAAC and we want to be the best defensive team in the country, so we really want to be a defensive team, but we really want to step up our offense this year as well.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.