2002-03 Season Preview
Matt Hilleary is a first-team preseason All-American.
Catholic University, the only school in the nation to appear in the past five Sweet Sixteens of the NCAA Tournament, returns four starters to a team that won 20 in a row and was ranked as high as No. 2 last season. The Cardinals have won five consecutive CAC regular-season championships with a devastating league record of 63-7 (.900).
"If we play great team defense like we're known for, I think we can have another special season," CUA Coach Mike Lonergan said. "We need to stay healthy, work hard in practice and play smart in games."
Matt Hilleary, a second-team All-American in 2001-02, led the 26-3 Cardinals in scoring (17.4 ppg), rebounding (9.2 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg). A talented player at both ends, the 6-foot-6 senior was selected Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season.
"Matt could be a legitimate National Player of the Year candidate if he improves as he has each of the last three seasons," Lonergan said. "He's talented enough to win games for us on nights we're not playing our best. He could have a monster year."
Kevin Wise has scored 607 career points.
Will Morley (6-5) joins Hilleary in the frontcourt. The versatile junior averaged 12.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg in his second year as a starter. He scored in double figures 20 times and was CAC Rookie of the Year in 2000-01.
Senior guard Kevin Wise returns as one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the nation. He ranked 10th nationally in 3-point FG percentage (46.9) and 15th in 3-pointers per game (3.4). The lithe 6-4 sharpshooter also distributed a career-high 10 assists at St. Mary's (Md.).
Senior shooting guard Craig Avallone enjoyed a career year last season in his first as a starter. He averaged 13.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.4 spg, and scored in double figures 25 times. Talented around the basket, Avallone also grabbed a personal-best 10 rebounds vs. Marymount in the CAC championship game.
The Cardinals' biggest void is at point guard after a homesick Bobby Henning chose not to return for his sophomore campaign. Junior Adam Dickman (1.9 ppg, 2.1 apg) started four games last year and will battle sophomore Tim Burke and freshman Aaron Kelly. Burke played sparingly in 26 contests and averaged 1.3 ppg, while Kelly started four years at the point in high school.
"The best thing about Bobby was his 'on the ball' defense," Lonergan said. "I think Adam, Tim and Aaron have the ability to be our point guard, but they are all unproven right now. I look forward to a healthy competition."
Will Jawando should improve after missing last preseason with a broken foot.
Junior forward Blair Mills will once again be one of CUA's top reserves. He posted career-high averages of 6.4 ppg and 4.8 rpg. He hit 83.3% (45 of 54) of his free throws and secured a career-high nine boards three times.
Forward Shane Sowden, center Matt Spierenburg and guard Matt Tanner are expected to contribute in their rookie campaigns. Sowden (6-8) was selected first-team All-Delaware last season. Spierenburg, at 6-9, is one the Cardinals' tallest players in years. He played the past two seasons with Tanner (6-4), who was named 2001-02 Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year.
"We have more depth than any team I've had here in 11 years," Lonergan said. "If we can get guys to accept their roles and put the team goals ahead of individual goals, I think we will be a tough team to beat in February, and hopefully March."
The Catholic University of America
Location: Washington, D.C.
Enrollment: 2,400 undergraduates
President: The Very Rev. David M.
Athletic Department Information
Director: Robert J. Talbot
Web site: http://http://athletics.cua.edu/
Colors: Cardinal Red & Black
Arena (capacity): DuFour Center (2,000)
Conference: Capital Athletic (CAC)
Affiliations: NCAA Division III, ECAC
Head Coach: Mike Lonergan
Alma Mater: Catholic University '88
School & Career Record: 203-77 (10 yrs.)
Coach's Web Site: www.mikelonergan.com
2001-02 Record: 26-3 (13-1 CAC)
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 11/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1