After three straight trips to the NAIA Division II National Tournament and four consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history, the Mount Vernon Nazarene College men's basketball team will look to continue its winning ways when the Cougars tip off the 2000-2001 season.
During its run over the past four years, MVNC has posted one of the best records in the NAIA with a 104-29 overall mark (.782 winning percentage). The team has also been ranked in every NAIA Division II Top 25 poll over the past three seasons. The Cougars have achieved this success through the play of NAIA Division II All-Americans such as Ehren Hull, Todd Sands, Brad Hostasa, and Adam Stevens.
"We have had an outstanding run with players like Ehren, Todd, Brad, and Adam," said head coach Scott Flemming. "They were all All-Americans, they all played together, and now they are gone. Last year, with only Adam left, we thought that it might be a transition year where we would need to build our program back up. Needless to say, we had some of our young players step up and fill some key roles."
"Making it back to the NAIA National Tournament last year was a great accomplishment for our team," Flemming added. "Now, with Adam gone, we will need players to step up again in order to continue the winning tradition that we have established."
Leading MVNC in the 2000-2001 season will be point guard Matt Keller (6-0), the lone senior on the team. Keller played in all 34 of the Cougars' games last season, and he started every postseason contest. He led the American Mideast Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio, and he finished the season with 157 assists. He also ranks ninth in career assists with 317.
Joining Keller in the starting lineup will be junior post Kenny Chaffin (6-6) and sophomore wing Phil Argento (6-2). Last season, Chaffin was second on the team in scoring (16.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.1 per game) as he was named an NAIA Division II Honorable Mention All-American. He also averaged 19.0 points per game at the national tournament.
Argento averaged 13.7 points per game in his first collegiate season in 1999-2000. He led MVNC with 82 three-pointers, and he was chosen as the AMC Freshman of the Year. He also led the Cougars in scoring in their two AMC Division II Tournament victories by averaging 26 points per game.
"I am very confident in the leadership that Matt will provide for us," said Flemming. "I also expect Kenny and Phil to provide some much needed scoring punch."
Juniors Andy Gast and Lenny Foyer should also see significant playing time. Gast, a 6-0 shooting guard, started in 23 games a year ago and averaged 9.4 points per game while making 42 treys. Foyer, a 6-4 forward, averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game and started all four of the team's postseason games.
Sophomores Matt Taylor and Konrod Morris also return with a year of collegiate experience under their belts. Taylor, a 6-5 post, averaged 10.0 points per game at the national tournament, while Morris, a 6-3 wing, played in 19 games and averaged 3.1 points.
Seven new players have joined the team for the 2000-2001 season. Junior Chad Vorhis (5-9), a transfer from Alderson-Broaddus (W.V.) College, will back up Keller at the point guard position. Sophomore wing Brad Moser (6-3) should also see plenty of action off the bench after transferring in from Bethel (Ind.) College.
Freshman Matt Hilbert, a 6-7 center from Jonathan Alder High School, should provide inside depth for MVNC after averaging 15.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game as a senior.
Rounding out the Cougars' roster are junior Chad Stevens and freshmen Chip Wilson, Dan Weston, and Mike Schoeff. Stevens, a 6-1 guard, averaged 6.5 points per game as a member of the 1996-1997 MVNC team. Wilson, a 5-9 guard, averaged 12.9 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.8 steals per game as a senior at River Valley High School. Weston, a 6-4 forward, helped Worthington Christian High School to a state title in 1999 and averaged 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds as a senior in 2000. Schoeff, a 6-2 wing, was an All-District Special Mention selection as a senior at Tree of Life Christian School.
The Cougars will be tested every time out in the highly-competitive AMC. MVNC will also travel to tournaments at Malone College and Palm Beach Atlantic (Fla.) College as well as hosting the Cougar Homecoming Classic and the Food for the Hungry Holiday Invitational.