Chones gang makes Raiders dangerous

Editor's Note: This is the second of a series of team-by-team previews set to run over the next week or so. As we mentioned with the first installment, they are in no particular order. Just because Colgate is second in the rotation does not mean we think they will be second in the league -- though the folks at Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook think they will be (see post below).

Who guards Kendall Chones?

That is the question a lot of Patriot League coaches will try to figure out when they face Colgate this year.

The 21-year-old sophomore from Cleveland, along with his brother Kyle, missed all of last season for academic reasons. Their return, along with the return of what is probably the best three-point shooting backcourt in the league, makes Colgate a serious darkhorse in the Patriot League.

The Raiders are picked fourth in the preseason poll, but there are plenty of reasons to suspect the ‘Gate might be the biggest obstacle in Bucknell’s title defense path.

There are those guards. When 6-1 Alvin Reed, 6-3 Kyle Roemer and 6-0 Jon Simon are hitting on all cylinders, Colgate is a very dangerous team. Just ask Bucknell, which needed Chirs Niesz’s heroics to squeak out a one-point win at home against the Raiders in last season’s regular season finale. Reed, Roemer and Simon combined for 34 of Colgate’s 59 points in that 60-59 loss.

All three averaged in double figures last season, all three had at least 44 three-pointer, all three shooting 38 percent or better outside the arc. Reed was an all-league pick last season. Roemer was an all-rookie pick. All Simon did was average 12.5 points per game (12th in the league) while hitting 39 percent (ninth in the league) from three-point range.

“Colgate is going to be the surprise of the league because they have really good guard play with Reed and Simon and the kid from California, the surfer (Roemer),” says Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard.

Well, maybe. As impressive as their offensive production has been, match them up with the other backcourts in a league full of great guards, and you’d be hard-pressed to pick Colgate better than fourth in the Patriot, with American’s trio of Ingram, Lekavicius and Lewis close at fifth.

Bucknell and Holy Cross are both clearly better, and deeper. Lehigh, no matter who plays the three, has to get the nod, too, after the way Joe Knight had his way against Colgate in the tournament.

But there is more to Colgate this year than their guards. Upfront they look to be much better, even after losing second-team all-leaguer Andrew Zidar to graduation. Part of that is Marc Daniels, a guy who Colgate coach Emmitt Davis expects to give the Raiders a far more physical presence in the post.

Daniels is an athletic 6-9, 245 senior who Davis promises “can shoot the ball.” He missed most of last season with a broken foot. Davis is bullish on his return.

“Nobody knows who this kid is in the league because he has not played. If he stays healthy, he will be a guy people will know about, Davis says.

Daniels will be more physical than Zidar. But will he be enough against guys like McNaughton, Clifford and Mgebroff? Probably not.

Even Davis admits: “We don’t have, like a lot of teams have, that 6-11, 265 lb. guy in the middle. Daniels is our closet thing to that.”

That is where Kendall Chones comes in. At 6-7, 255, Chones was an all-rookie pick two years ago, scoring in double figures nine times, including 19 against both Bucknell and Holy Cross. Against Lehigh he posted a 10-point, 11-rebounds double-double.

This kids is legit. Don’t let his sophomore status fool you, either. Chones, 21, spent a year prepping at Fork Union Military Academy and was not in school last season.

“Kendall Chones is a player who could be a first-team all-league player,” says Davis.

The matchups are intriguing. Take Bucknell, for example. The Bison are likely to employ a three-headed monster at the four, with 6-8 Darren Mastropaolo, 6-6 Donald Brown and 6-7 Andrew Morrison. It will be interesting to see if Mastropaolo is quick enough, Brown strong enough and Morrison a little of both enough to guard Chones.

Holy Cross’ foul-prone Kevin Hyland will have his hands full with the more athletic Chones and Lehigh certainly does not seem to have anybody to match up wih him.

This might be the spot to drop a mention of Chones’ brother Kyle. An inch shorter that Kendall at 6-6, and at 220, 35 pounds lighter, Kyle Chones could also bring a lot to the Raiders’ table. In fact, while Kendall got more attention and accolades as a freshman, Davis has told other coaches that when they left school last year, Kyle might actually have been the better player.

“Both those kids could start for anybody in the league,” Willard says.

With the Chones gang and Daniels on the floor, Colgate’s frontline might be small, but it is as athletic as any in the league. Davis will try to take advantage of that.

“We are going to have to play great defense, get the ball up and down, and utilize the athleticism of our guards and inside players,” Davis says.

Last year, Colgate was a jump-shooting, perimeter-oriented team. This year, Davis expects that to change. Daniels and Kendall Chones to provide a low post presence that Zidar lacked.

“That is going to open it up for those other guys. Alvin Reed, Jon Simon and Kyle Roemer were among the top 10 in the league in three-point shooting last year and if you have an inside game to go with it, it will open it up even more for those guys. And we will be better inside this year,” Davis says.

The question is: will the new guys inside improve Colgate’s rebounding? That was a problem area for the Raiders last year, as it is for a lot of teams that live and die by the jump shot.

Two guys accounted for a third of Colgate’s rebounds last season – Zidar and 6-8 pogo Alex Woodhouse. Zidar is graduated and Woodhouse, a sophomore, was lost for the season when he injured his knee during the first hour of Colgate’s first practice.

“We were not a great rebounding team last year. Zidar did a lot of our rebounding for us and he is gone, so rebounding is going to be a key,” Davis says.

“The big question for us is going to be rebounding. Hopefully Daniels, the Chones and Peter Minchilla (6-10, 230 soph.), some of these other guys, can pick up on that.”

There are other question marks. The Raiders turned the ball over more than they took it away last year and 6-4 sophomore guard Todd Checovich was the only Raider to appear in more than 18 games with more assists than turnovers.

Joe Knight showed the backcourt can be torched with his 49-points in the semifinals.

The Raiders’ depth is questionable, too.

Still, if the Chones brothers live up to their advance billing, Colgate could make things interesting.

NOTES: The Chones are two of triplet borthers . . . the third, Kameron, plays at Brown . . . Cameron is the runt of the litter at 6-5, 215 . . a sister, Kaayata plays for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA . . . another sister, Kareeda, works for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks . . . Despite its remote location on the snow-covered tundra, Colgate has players on its roster from California, (2), Arizona (2) and Texas . . . Colgate boasts two transfers from St. Mary’s (Cal.) on its roster, 6-8 junior Simon Knight and 6-3 junior Daniel Waddy, who must sit out this season (which brings up an interesting question: given the Patriot League’s no redshirt rule, will Waddy still have two years of eligibility left after playing two years at St. Mary’s?) . . . Willie Morse, a 6-3 guard from State College Pa. will also sit out after transferring from St. Bonaventure, where he played 22 games as a freshman last season (and who raises the same question). . . Colgate opens the season Nov. 14 against Utah Valley State in the Guardians Classic at Iowa . . . The host Hawkeyes and Maryland-Eastern Shore complete the four-team field . . . Colgate’s Nov. 18 home opener against Florida Atlantic . . . That game will be former Notre Dame and North Carolina coach Matt Doherty’s debut as coach of the Owls.

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