JOHNSTOWN - If experience equals success, then the Fulton-Montgomery Community College men's basketball team couldn't be more ready to begin the 2013-14 campaign.
The Raiders are returning seven players from last season, the most the team has ever returned. After a 20-10 record two seasons ago, FMCC went 15-11 in 2012-13 while relying on a larger-than-usual group of freshmen. That team lost to Mohawk Valley in the first round of the regional tournament.
"All those freshmen that played last year are back," said head coach Ed Collar.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Darius Ward shoots over Schenectady County Community College’s Reece Jackson during a game at FMCC in Johnstown on Feb. 5. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Four starters return to the team, with the only missing piece being top scorer Aaron Morton.
"We'll have to fill his scoring shoes, but I think we're more than capable of doing that with the players we have coming back," Collar said.
The starting lineup for 2013-14 is set. Kadeem Stanislas will be running the point for the Raiders, while Darius Ward figures to be a sharpshooter from outside.
"I think both of those guys should be all-region players this year if they live up to what I think they're capable of," said Collar.
Bryant Jack will be the starting center. According to Collar, Jack has improved his game a lot and features a hook shot that he can get off with accuracy using either hand. Khaleeq Baum is a quick, athletic forward that Collar says should help in both the scoring and rebounding departments. The final starter is Kenny Barr.
"Kenny's more of a tough guy that does all the dirty work," said Collar. "He will get you a rebound, play defense on the other team's tough players, and can knock the shot down when he's open. He gives our team a lot of toughness. Every team needs somebody like that."
This year's FMCC team figures to be no different than in past years. Traditionally one of the fastest teams in the region, the Raiders will look to run and gun to be successful.
"We're a team that likes to get up and down the court in a hurry," Collar said.
That type of playing style lends itself to teams going deep into their rotation. Carlos Rivera and D'Ondre Simmons, both sophomores, will be key off the bench for the Raiders. A freshman, Tyrone Davis will serve as the backup floor general to Stanislas.
"We definitely feel we are going to be championship contenders," said Collar.
The Raiders' season tips off with a matchup Saturday against the Tompkins Cortland Community College Panthers. They will host the Spartans of Cayuga in their first home game on Nov. 16.