Bashir Mason enters third year at Wagner with younger group eager to return Seahawks to top of Northeast Conference. (Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Advance)
A year ago, Wagner was at the center of the preseason universe in the Northeast Conference, returning the most experienced roster in the league to Staten Island en route to being selected as the favorite in the annual coaches' poll, a credit to Dan Hurley building for the future before being tabbed to lead Rhode Island out of a morass that landed them in the lower rung of the Atlantic 10.
Hurley, as well as a senior-laden roster led by shooting guard Latif Rivers, forward Orlando Parker and 6-10 shot blocking extraordinaire Naofall Folahan, have all since departed, but third-year coach Bashir Mason; still the youngest head man in the nation at just 30 years of age, remains with a group that will enter the year hungry to validate their former standing as the Seahawks rebound from a 19-12 campaign that ended with the Verrazano Warriors' third consecutive loss in the semifinals of the NEC Tournament.
Mason, who can now finally put his own stamp on this year's roster; a collection of talents headed by senior point guard Marcus Burton and explosive junior wing Dwaun Anderson, opens the season at the Comcast Center in College Park to take on Big Ten newcomer Maryland on November 14 before invading Levien Gym four days later for a clash with crosstown rival Columbia. Division III program Old Westbury serves as the first visitor to the Spiro Center in 2014-15 on November 20 before Wagner travels the Belt Parkway into Long Island to take on Joe Mihalich and Hofstra in their final pre-Thanksgiving tuneup on November 23.
A home game with Penn that the Quakers are returning from last season's meeting at the Palestra precedes a three-game road swing to open December against the likes of Maine, Lafayette and Vermont. Following the excursion, the Seahawks' former NEC rival Monmouth comes to Staten Island on December 20 before a road trip to Cincinnati and a home matchup with another former NEC program in Rider close out the non-league portion of Wagner's ledger.
Northeast Conference play will begin for the Seahawks on the road against Saint Francis University on January 3, 2015, and in a reversal of last season; where Wagner had the bulk of their home league games toward the end of the year, Mason's team will contest four of their first seven league tilts in Richmond County, starting on January 5 against reigning conference champion Mount St. Mary's in a three-game homestand that will also see last year's regular season titleholder Robert Morris and former three-time champion LIU Brooklyn tip off inside the Spiro Center before the Green and White head to Rhode Island and New Jersey for meetings with Bryant and Fairleigh Dickinson, respectively. Saint Francis completes the back end of their home-and-home on January 22 in Staten Island as the NEC returns to an 18-game schedule this season, playing a double round robin with their 10-team setup.
Five of Wagner's next eight following their home matchup with the Red Flash are also on their Grymes Hill campus, with Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State making the trek to New York after the Seahawks skirmish with Howie Dickenman's Blue Devils in New Britain first on January 24. A rematch with Sacred Heart on the 31st sends the Staten Islanders into February, where they open the month with back-to-back matchups against Glenn Braica and likely contender St. Francis Brooklyn, with the Terriers hitting the road first on February 7 before Wagner returns the favor five days later in Brooklyn Heights.
Home duels with Fairleigh Dickinson and Bryant precede a three-game road trip to conclude the regular season, as Wagner travels to LIU Brooklyn on February 21 before wrapping up with journeys to Pennsylvania and Maryland for Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's.
***For Wagner's full schedule, click here***