2019-20 Men's Basketball Season Preview: Diplomats Begin New Era

2019-20 Men's Basketball Season Preview: Diplomats Begin New Era

2019-20 Schedule | 2019-20 Roster | Video Roster | Preview Video | Social Media | Follow at Home 

LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2019-20 season - five of them, in fact. The Diplomats return a quintet of returning players who played a significant role in guiding a young F&M squad to the Centennial Conference (CC) Playoffs last year. A group of talented first-year players add to the intrigue of the first Diplomat season without Glenn Robinson at the helm since 1971.

Click here to watch the season preview video.

Robinson, the Division III all-time wins leader, stepped down on November 5th after 48 seasons as Diplomats' head coach. Assistant Coach Nick Nichay was elevated to Interim Head Coach for the 2019-20 season, highlighting his eighth season as part of the Diplomat coaching staff. Nichay has head coaching experience within the F&M structure, serving in the head coach capacity on two separate occasions during the previous two years, leading the team to a 10-4 mark during that span with two wins over top-10 teams.

The five key returning players saw time in at least 13 starts and averaged at least 19 minutes per game on a team that went 15-11, including 9-9 in Conference play. While considered a down year in comparison to previous squads, last year's team only carried one senior on the roster and gave invaluable experience to young players who will carry the Diplomats this season. 

Key Returners

G | Justin Kupa, Jr.
F | Matt Redhead, Jr.
G | Les Thomas, Jr.
G/F | Ignas Slyka, Sr.
G | Mike Rice, Sr. 

Below is a position by position breakdown of the team. To view the 2019-20 video roster, click here

Point Guard

The Diplomats have options at the point with senior captain Mike Rice and sophomore Solomon Mathis both able to handle the rock. Rice started 20 games last season, averaging three points and two assists per game, while Mathis appeared in 25 games, averaging 7.1 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting off the bench.

First-year option Travis Cumber will come off the pine to add depth at the position.

Guard

Junior guard Justin Kupa will likely continue to lead the scoring efforts from the off-guard position. Kupa garnered All-Centennial Conference Honorable Mention honors while averaging 14.8 points, 2.5 assists, and shooting 36.5 percent from three to lead the team. 

Ignas Slyka returns for his senior season to lead the guards. The 6-6 senior is a bonafide stat stuffer, as he averaged 5.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game in 2018-19.

Les Thomas will also provide a much-needed scoring punch as a starter, with the junior looking to improve on a sophomore campaign that averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 boards per game.

Senior Bo Williams and junior Justin Peirce will continue to add support off the bench, while first-year guards Justin Law and Jake Seeherman round out the position.

Forward

Junior Matt Redhead paces the forwards this season. The 6-6 forward finished second on the team in points per game (11.7), rebounds per game (6.5), and field goal percentage (47 percent). 

Juniors Jaka Pandza and Brian Hines look to build off sophomore campaigns that saw them play in eight and 11 games, respectively. First-year forward Mark Suchy should battle for time right away.

Mayser Renovation

This summer, work began to breathe new life into F&M's historic gym. A modern telescoping bleacher system with an electrical power-operated steel frame was installed to replace the wooden seating. 

A fresh coat of paint brightened up the walls. New championship and individual accolade banners were installed in early October to highlight the contemporary look of the space. The main entrance lobby of the building through the Williamson Parking Lot entrance features graphics of the all-time great volleyball, wrestling, men's and women's basketball players who imprinted their legacy on the Mayser floor.   

A pair of 6-feet-by-10-feet, state-of-the-art Daktronics scoreboards with electronic captions are replacing the outdated units that had proudly displayed so many Diplomat wins, while new game-clock/shot-clock timers were hung above each basket. 

Read the complete story here.

The Road Ahead

The Diplomats open their 2019-20 campaign at home on Friday, Nov. 8 with a non-conference tilt against York. The annual William Marshall Tip-Off Tournament is set for the following weekend in Mayser, and opens on Friday, Nov. 15 against Lancaster Bible at 7:30 p.m. CNU and Marywood also compete in the tournament with the Consolation (5:30 p.m.) and Championship (7:30 p.m.) games set for Saturday evening.

Centennial Conference (CC) action starts on the road with a Tuesday, Nov. 26 contest against Gettysburg, and continues into early December with three games in six days against Haverford (Dec. 4), Washington (Dec. 7), and Dickinson (Dec. 10). The Sponaugle New Years Tournament is slated to run from Dec. 29-30 and features Mary Washington, Susquehanna, and St. Elizabeth with the Consolation game at 1:00 p.m. and the Championship at 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

The Diplomats will round out their Conference schedule through January and the bulk of February, playing 14 Centennial tilts from Thursday, January 9 to Saturday, February 22.

The CC Playoffs begin with the First Round on Tuesday, Feb. 25 while the Semifinals and Championship occurring on Feb. 28-29.

Fans can utilize the "Add to Calendar" button, which allows the synchronization of new events and updates directly in their Google, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, iCal and additional calendars. 

Look for the icon below, which can be accessed at the top-right of all winter schedules when viewed on your computer, or bottom-left of all schedules on your mobile device.

Follow Along

All F&M home contests are streamed in HD video, free of charge at GoDiplomats.com/Live and simulcast on the Centennial Conference Digital Network (CCDN). Fans can also follow the action through the live stats page, found here.

Centennial Conference Digital Network (CCDN)

The Centennial Conference announced a partnership with Stretch Internet to become the conference's digital network provider and establish a central location for all CC athletic events. Broadcasts that are present in the Stretch portal are exclusively produced by each of the 11-member institutions of the conference.

In addition to its Roku channel, the Conference will have three new over-the-top (OTT) applications to make broadcasts available – Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android TV. Home broadcasts that are produced by all 11 members will be available on CentennialConference.TV and the OTT apps.

Follow Along (Social Media)

All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats YouTube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season.