The phone was ringing off the hook on November 10th in head basketball coach Matt Nadelhoffer’s office. A crowd of players wandered out the door to take a look at game film and the coach sat jotting notes at his desk.
In the middle of his interview his cell phone went off.
“This is unbelievable,” coach Nadelhoffer said, and as it should be in a year when Eastern basketball will start its season ranked in the top five PAC preseason polls for the first time ever.
For once, Eastern is getting attention and respect for a men’s basketball team that has yet to accomplish anything since the program began in 1992. Last season, the Eagles finished with a 9-16 overall record, and a 7-9 PAC record.
“When I came here I was told that we couldn’t win, and we haven’t won yet,” Nadelhoffer said.
In his fourth year since coming to the team, Nadelhoffer has goals for his team that include winning the PAC and advancing to the Division III National Tournament. With a new style of basketball, Coach Nadelhoffer believes that it’s all possible.
“Basically what we want to do is we want to run the other team to death. It’s going to be a fun style to watch,” Nadelhoffer said.
The Eagles have thirteen returning players on their varsity roster this year and have two new players creating a deep tank that the coach hopes will provide him with enough energy to run a press defense the entire game. “That’s the best way to go after people. We’re just going to go after them and continue to push the ball down their throat. Defensively we are going to cause havoc and exhaust people,” he said.
Without a starting lineup set for the beginning of the regular season, Nadelhoffer plans on shuffling players in and out of the game going off of what works. Guards Lenny Dimaria (8.29ppg last season), Chris McMonagle (7.21ppg) and Dave Volpe (3.7ppg) will lead the Eagles in the backcourt. Matt Malloy, Joe Manzo, Bryan Nadelhoffer, Mike Johnson and Kenny Neal will lead amongst the team’s forwards.
“We’ll probably start the majority of our games with the older kids just to get us off to a good start. And then we’ll go to our bench where there’s a lot of youth. This is the first time since I’ve been here, that we’ve had this much talent top to bottom,” Nadelhoffer said.
If the team’s back-to-back blowouts against Valley Forge Christian College (101-62) and Maryland Bible College (108-79) in the Minella’s Classic tournament November 18 and 19 are any indication, this season should be a good one.