Last year, the York College basketball team, the Cardinals, turned in a tremendous 23-8 record season but eventually lost to Baruch College of Manhattan in the championship game of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) post season tournament.
Marcel Esonwune turned in another great campaign and topped the team in various offensive and defensive categories, including rebounding and blocked shots. As a junior he already became the talk of the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC). He led the team and the NCAA Division III in blocked shots with 129 – for an average of about four a game in all 31 contests. He placed second in the nation for Division III institutions in rebounds with 459 and a 14.8 average.
Esonwune didn’t know that he was “up” there until after the season was over.
Named a pre-season all-American, the 6’6” starter is set on taking his team further during this 2010-2011 campaign. Because of his tremendous work as a forward and center, he is a definite threat to any opponent every time he touches the ball.
This year, he has a new point guard who can get him the ball in the inside in Michael Edwards, a junior from Queensborough Community College. Edwards had played his high school ball at Francis Lewis.
Speed in the backcourt, inside scoring, rebounding and size up front are the major strengths of the Cardinals. Defensively, Head Coach Ron St. John likes to use a man-to-man defense. But the latter might change this season.
“Defensively, we’ll play more zone than we’ve ever played before,” said St. John. “Sometimes a game or an opponent dictates what we should do.”
The Cardinals from Jamaica are loaded with new faces, including five who have junior or community college experience before entering York.
“We have a lot to learn this year,” assistant coach Nate Reeves, a former player at York, said. “We are young. We are depending on Marcel’s leadership. His progress is unbelievable.”
Most of the offense will come from Edwards, Esonwune, Shamir Wilkinson and Will Holley.
“We have to learn how to keep our turnovers down,” added St. John. “[Our progress] is coming around and is jelling. The key to our season is how our backcourt plays. If our point guard comes around, we should have a tremendous season.”