By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
This won’t be the only game of the weekend for the men’s basketball team as they will also play West Chester University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, starting at 5 p.m.
Last season, the Hilltoppers finished with a 26-4 overall record and a 20-2 record in conference games.
The season came to a stunning halt in the NCAA tournament when the Hilltoppers took on Shippensburg University, and just couldn’t hang on as the Raiders won the game 98-66. After this crushing defeat, the Hilltoppers lost three out of their final four games of the season.
Ben Howlett returns as the head coach for his second season of work and he is looking to build off of last season’s success.
In his very first game as head coach, the Hilltoppers tied an NCAA record with ten players making a three-point field goal throughout the course of the game. This was just the third time in NCAA history that a team had done that.
A brand new season brings new faces and new challenges, but this team will be led by sophomore guard, Dalton Bolon. Last season, Bolon exploded onto the scene starting all 30 games, averaging 16.7 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. At the end of the season, he earned Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year honors and second team all MEC.
With a wide range of youth on this year’s Hilltopper team, there will also be a lot of experience coming from upperclassmen.
This year, there will be two graduate students that have been in the program for four plus years and there will also be a fifth year senior.
Tyler Primmer and Evan French will be the two graduate students and they can also provide valuable minutes. Both of them have primarily come off of the bench in their time at West Liberty, but they come with energy and a spark that always helps the Hilltoppers. The two forwards will provide leadership and guidance for all of the new players on this year’s team.
Senior Brady Arnold is also back this season after beating cancer. He took a medical redshirt last season to focus on his health, but is now ready to get back on the court. In the 2016-17 season, Arnold scored 229 total points, adding in 69 rebounds and 64 assists.
Eric Meininger is a fifth year senior and as his age has gone up, so have his minutes on the court. He has become a dominant force down low for the men’s basketball in past seasons. Last year, he averaged 9.5 points per game while grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game in his 30 starts.
Be sure to follow the men’s basketball team all season long here at the Trumpet with more player profiles and game previews.
Photo Credit: Hilltoppersports.com