Ryan Hughes (above) and Ursinus took a big jump up the CoBL-area men's Division III Power Rankings. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Here’s the first men’s CoBL-Area Division III Power Rankings of the 2022-23 season; we’ll update men’s and women’s on alternate weeks from here on out (with a slight pause for the holidays):
(Ed. Note: A reminder that CoBL's Division III coverage area includes from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, up to State College and over to the Lehigh Valley).
Others to watch
Arcadia (3-2 overall, 0-0 MAC Freedom), Bryn Athyn (2-0, 0-0 CSAC), Delaware Valley (3-2, 0-0 MAC Freedom), DeSales (3-2, 0-0 MAC Freedom), Franklin & Marshall (3-2, 0-1 Centennial), Gettysburg (2-3, 0-1 Centennial), Haverford (2-3, 1-0 Centennial), Lycoming (3-3, 0-0 MAC Freedom), PSU-Abington (3-2, 0-0 United East), PSU-Harrisburg (3-3, 0-0 United East)
10. Lancaster Bible Chargers (LW: 5)
Record: 1-2, 0-0 United East
Early Results: neutral vs. Eastern Mennonite (W, 68-66), @ Bridgewater (L, 59-56), @ Eastern (L, 66-65)
Yes, the Chargers have a losing record — but they were both road losses, by a total of four points, including by just one point against one of the top teams in the area, so we felt they still merit inclusion despite the solitary win. We’ll know a lot more after the next two weeks, with four home games in a row before a trip to Randolph-Macon for a post-Christmas tournament. The Christian Academy alum Grant Sareyka is leading the way at 14.7 ppg, followed by Adam Stoltzfus (12.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg) and Jordan Shrewbridge (11.7 ppg); Stoltzfus, a 6-6 forward out of Lampeter-Strasburg, has a double-double in all three games thus far.
Next Up: vs. Neumann (Nov. 30), vs. Penn College (Dec. 3), vs. Albright (Dec. 6), vs. Cabrini (Dec. 8)
9. Cairn Highlanders (LW: 6)
Record: 4-2 overall, 0-0 CSAC
Early Results: @ Franklin & Marshall (L, 86-62), neutral vs. Alvernia (L, 77-57), vs. Manor (W, 91-70), vs. PSU-Brandywine (W, 94-49), vs. PSU-Berks (W, 80-66), @ Pratt Institute (W, 74-62)
Cairn almost hung as close as it did in an exhibition against D-I Norfolk State (87-59) than it did in its season opener at F&M, but the Highlanders bounced back from a rough opening pair to win their last four, including a game in Brooklyn on Monday night at Pratt. Eastern Mennonite transfer Mizz Nyagwegwe put up 18 in the win, while Valley Forge transfer Derian Bradford added 16; those two are the team’s leading scorers, in reverse order, Bradford averaging 15.3 ppg and Nyagwegwe at 12.3 ppg, shooting 18-of-40 (45%) from the 3-point arc, making an average of three per game.
Next Up: vs. St. Joseph’s (N.Y.) (Dec. 3), @ CCNY (Dec. 5), vs. Great Lakes Christian (Dec. 9)
Howie Rankine Jr. (above, left) and Susquehanna jumped into the rankings
after a 3-2 start. (Photo courtesy Susquehanna Athletics))
8. Susquehanna River Hawks (LW: OTW)
Record: 3-2, 0-0 CSAC
Early Results: vs. Arcadia (W, 68-48), @ Muhlenberg (L, 71-56), vs. Lebanon Valley (W, 94-86), vs. No. 4 Christopher Newport (L, 81-57), @ Lycoming (W, 78-76)
The River Hawks have alternated wins and losses to open the season, though their only two losses are to a team in the top five of these rankings and in the top five of the national ones. The win over Lycoming saw six players enter the scoring column for Susquehanna, all between nine and 18 points, an impressive show of balance, and they only committed five turnovers. Senior guard Quincy Haughton has taken a huge jump from last season (4.1 ppg), averaging a team-best 18.6 ppg plus 3.6 rpg, scoring at least 15 points in each contest; Howie Rankine Jr. is right behind him at 18.2 ppg and 4.4 rpg, the only other River Hawk averaging more than 8.6 ppg. Big stretch for them coming up, including a trip to Swarthmore next Wednesday.
Next Up: @ Ithaca (Nov. 29), vs. Elizabethtown (Dec. 3), @ Swarthmore (Dec. 7), vs. Neumann (Dec. 10)
7. Neumann Knights (LW: 2)
Record: 5-2 overall, 0-0 Atlantic East
Early Results: @ Alvernia (L, 86-79), neutral vs. Jersey City (W, 66-64), @ Lebanon Valley (L, 67-63), vs. PSU-Altoona (W, 85-74), @ TCNJ (W, 63-60), @ PSU-Brandywine (W, 93-61), @ PSU-Harrisburg (W, 75-66)
The Knights lost two of their first three but have bounced backed to win five straight, getting 20 points and nine rebounds from Jalen Vaughns plus 16 + 10 from Ryan Starr in their most recent win, Monday night in Harrisburg, a well-played game where both teams turned it over only nine times and shot around 50% from the floor, Neumann making just a few more shots to pull it out. As expected, Vaughns is leading the way at 21.9 ppg and 9.1 rpg, playing 36 minutes per contest, while Starr (10.0 ppg), TJ Lewis (13.4 ppg) and Tony James (9.4 ppg) are all playing 33+ minutes. It does help having former St. Joe’s Prep standout Kyle Thompson back on the floor after missing three games; he dropped 19 points in the win over PSU-Altoona.
Next Up: @ Lancaster Bible (Nov. 30), vs. Salisbury (Dec. 3), vs. Rosemont (Dec. 6), vs. Washington College (Dec. 8), @ Susquehanna (Dec. 10)
6. Muhlenberg Mules (Last Week: OTW)
Record: 3-1 overall, 0-0 Centennial
Early Results: @ Moravian (W, 77-74), vs. Susquehanna (W, 71-56), vs. King’s (W, 76-63), @ Swarthmore (L, 85-80 OT)
The Mules are off to their best start of the last few seasons, coming oh-so-close to knocking off Swarthmore before Thanksgiving, a 25-point, five-assist effort from star guard Dan Gaines not enough as Swat dominated the glass 51-34 on its home court. Gaines is averaging a team-high 19.0 ppg, just ahead of junior guard Giovanni Rubino (16.0 ppg), Jayson WIlliams-Johnson (13.3 ppg) and Tommy McGuire (10.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg), a senior forward from Westfield (N.J.) who’s putting up career-best numbers. Big two-game stretch upcoming with Ursinus and Hopkins, to see if these Mules are for real.
Next Up: vs. Ursinus (Nov. 29), @ Johns Hopkins (Dec. 3), vs. Drew (Dec. 7)
5. Widener Pride (Last Week: OTW)
Record: 4-2 overall, 0-0 MAC Freedom
Early Results: vs. SUNY Geneseo (W, 83-51), vs. Vassar (W, 69-51), vs. Swarthmore (W, 67-66), @ Ursinus (L, 90-86), @ No. 9 Stockton (L, 67-56), vs. Rosemont (W, 92-55)
The Pride certainly have the best win of the season thus far, knocking off the area’s preseason No. 1 in Swarthmore thanks to 22 points from Pat Holden and four others with nine-or-more, a Holden jumper with three seconds left the game-winning bucket. The Pride’s two losses, to unbeaten Ursinus and a top-ten Stockton squad on the road, both by single-digits, are nothing to feel too bad about either. All this from a Pride squad that lost one of its key players, forward Matt Daulerio, to a torn ACL in the preseason. Susquehanna grad transfer Dominic Dunn has been terrific, averaging 20.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg while shooting 19-of-42 (45.2%) from 3-point range; Holden (11.4 ppg and Kevin Schenk (10.0 ppg) are also in double figures.
Next Up: @ Alvernia (Nov. 30), vs. Messiah (Dec. 3), vs. Stevenson (Dec. 7), @ Eastern (Dec. 10)
4. Alvernia Golden Wolves (LW: 4)
Record: 4-1 overall, 0-0 MAC Commonwealth
Early Results: vs. Neumann (W, 86-79), neutral vs. Hampden-Sydney (L, 79-62), neutral vs. Cairn (W, 77-57), vs. Wilkes (W, 67-56), vs. Gwynedd Mercy (W, 83-67)
The only team in the rankings that didn’t change from the preseason was Alvernia, who lost by 17 in the opener of the F&M tournament and then responded with three straight double-digit victories. They’re led by a Philadelphia native, Malik Green (Simon Gratz), who’s averaging 17.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg, with Spring-Ford alum Nigel Cooke (13.4 ppg) and Jakob Kelly (12.8 ppg) also in double figures; freshman guard Jalil Schenck (9.2 ppg) has been a sparkplug off the bench, as well. The Golden Wolves are one of the few teams without an extended winter break, as they’ll play a quartet of conference games over the next few weeks, then three more non-league games before getting back into the Commonwealth for the stretch run.
Next Up: vs. Widener (Nov. 30), @ Stevenson (Dec. 3), @ York (Dec. 14), vs. Albright (Dec. 17)
Kaeshawn Ward (above) and Eastern have more wins than anybody else in the region. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
3. Eastern Eagles (LW: 8)
Record: 7-1 overall, 0-0 CSAC
Early Results: @ Salisbury (W, 97-79), neutral vs. Wilson (W, 83-70), neutral vs. Wilkes (W, 65-58), vs. Cabrini (W, 86-57), vs. Lancaster Bible (W, 66-65), vs. Haverford (W, 62-40), @ NC Wesleyan (L, 69-66), neutral vs. Sarah Lawrence (W, 69-62)
We certainly underestimated Eastern, which hasn’t skipped a beat despite some key graduations, a three-point loss this past weekend keeping them out of the top spot. They’re getting terrific balance in scoring production, with Jaron Fairweather (11.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Kaeshawn Ward (11.3 ppg), Sam Gallardo (11.0 ppg) and Zubair Lee (9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) all regularly going for double figures, while a deep bench have all shown the ability to pop out and give them a few buckets and some boards in whatever run they’re needed for. One final non-league game against Scranton remains and then it’s into Commonwealth play for the remainder of the season, the three pre-holiday games all challenges, and Alvernia waiting to follow (Jan. 4).
Next Up: @ Scranton (Nov. 30), vs. York (Dec. 3), @ Hood (Dec. 6), vs. Widener (Dec. 10)
2. Swarthmore Garnet (LW: 1)
Record: 5-1 overall, 1-0 Centennial
Early Results: @ Rowan (W, 71-70), vs. Bowdoin (W, 90-68), vs. No. 22 Wesleyan (W, 79-61), @ Widener (L, 67-66), @ DeSales (W, 63-60), vs. Muhlenberg (W, 85-80)
It’s been a strong start to the year for the Garnet, a single-point road loss costing them the top spot, though a few other close finishes didn’t help matters. Swat’s being led as expected by junior guard Vinny DeAngelo, the Sun Valley product averaging 15.2 ppg and shooting 52.5% from the floor, with senior guard George Visconti right behind him at 14.0 ppg; junior forward Michael Caprise (9.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg) is their leader on the glass, though three others — including DeAngelo and Visconti — are averaging more than five boards per game. Surprisingly, Swarthmore has more turnovers (73) than assists (70) this season after finishing with a +74 differential last year.
Next Up: vs. Haverford (Nov. 29), @ Dickinson (Dec. 3), vs. Susquehanna (Dec. 7)
1. Ursinus Bears (LW: 9)
Record: 5-0 overall, 1-0 Centennial
Early Results: @ FDU-Florham (W, 75-56), @ Rosemont (W, 91-77), vs. TCNJ (W, 99-72), vs. Widener (W, 90-86 OT), vs. Franklin & Marshall (W, 88-87)
The only team in the region to be unbeaten with more than a couple games under its belt, Ursinus is 5-0 for what the school thinks is the first time in the program’s history, though they waited until the last second for Trevor Wall to deliver the game-winning layup against F&M. Ryan Hughes (21.1 ppg) and Wall (20.0 ppg), a St. Joe’s Prep grad, are one of the best 1-2 punches around regardless of level, while 6-10 sophomore forward Cole Grubbs (7.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has taken a step forward from last year. A full 10 games remain between their first matchups with Hopkins and Swarthmore, the reigning Centennial top dogs, but that trip to Muhlenberg tonight (Nov. 29) will be big as well.
Next Up: @ Muhlenberg (Nov. 29), @ McDaniel (Dec. 3), vs. Immaculata (Dec. 10)