The York College basketball team got off to a slow start but after two months or their first 11 games of competition is playing about .500 ball. The Cardinals compete in the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) with the likes of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Baruch, John Jay, City, Hunter Medgar Evers and Lehman.
Nicknamed the Cardinals, York’s goal is to be seeded high in the CUNYAC post season tournament, with an automatic bid at stake for the winner going into the prestigious NCAA Division III tournament.
Tony Vails has certainly improved from last year’s junior season and heads an 11 player roster , including four seniors. Vails, who has good moves in driving toward the basket, improved on his outside shot. He has a great deal of potential.
“He’s having a good year,” Head Coach Ron St. John said. “And he’s developing his outside game.”
Joining Vails, a shooting guard, in the backcourt, is point guard Du’Quan Lawson, a 5-6 sophomore, who must cut down on his turnovers for the team to succeed, sophomore point guard Michael Trowers, freshman forward Terell Roper, sophomore front court player Thomas Hart, and senior Shamir Wilkinson. They are some of the key players who the team will be counting on.
Vails, who is ranked nationally among the leaders in Division III of the NCAA,
in scoring, is averaging about 23 points an outing.
“Vails, is a tough kid,” Coach St. John continued. “He finishes everything. And he’s capable of playing overseas (after he graduates to play the pro game). “
He is a two-time CUNYAC Player-of-the-Week honoree this season and is an all-CUNY candidate at the end of the season.
Wilkinson, who can see action at either forward or center, gives the Cardinals a low post presence and also in an all-league candidate. Roper and swingman Jose Arroyo have to step up their games in order for the team to win.
The offense is centered around Vails but he must credit it also to his teammates especially thosewho set him up and feed him the ball.
After going 1-4, York made a turn around to capture four straight games but lost their last game to Baruch. According to the coach, York should have beaten Baruch. Overall, they lost a number of tight games.
“We like our chances as we go forward,” said a spokesman from the team.
“The race in the CUNYAC is wide open,” added St. John. “We’re preparing to deal with the conference teams. We’re in a good position to (move up). We’ll be okay. We are capable of winning the championship.”
When time permits, St. John follows the pro game, including the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.
“If (Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo) gets the most out of his players he was the right choice (for the job),,” St. John said. “They (Nets management) didn’t give him (Avery Johnson) a chance. It was premature in letting him go. Johnson was named Coach of the Month by the NBA for November.”