DEFIANCE, OHIO – The 2015-16 Defiance College men's basketball team added yet another achievement to the program's long list with its third straight regular-season conference title and fifth since joining the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The 2016-17 edition of the Yellow Jackets will look to continue the streak.
Second-year Head Coach Scott Cutter will return a solid core group of players, all of which have been members of all three of the Jackets' championship teams the past three seasons. This year's team will be led by four seniors in Michael Parker (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North), Devin Mangas (Leipsic), Chris Holmes (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) and Javone Hilliard (Indianapolis, Ind./Arsenal Tech).
Parker, Mangas and Holmes will anchor the backcourt. Parker recorded his best season to date last year after a first-team All-HCAC effort in which he started all 26 games and was second on the team in scoring averaging 14.3 points per game. He was amongst the team leaders in overall field goal percentage at 43.1 percent (135-of-313) and led the team in both three-pointers made (79) and attempts (217) for a 36.4 percentage from long range. His 79 made triples and 217 attempts also led the HCAC. In addition, Parker also averaged 3.6 rebounds per game as a junior and tallied 48 assists. Defensively, he had a team-high 41 steals, which was also third best in the conference.
Mangas played in all 26 games last season and saw most of his playing time coming off the bench, but did make four starts. He averaged 8.9 ppg. while shooting 45.0 percent (77-of-171) overall and was one of the top free-throw shooters on the team with an 84.5 percentage (49-of-58). He had 11 games of 10 or more points and two games of 20 or more points, including a career-high 26 point effort in the season-opener against Wabash (Ind.) College. He also averaged 3.6 rpg. and dished out 27 assists. Defensively, Mangas finished third on the team in steals with 20.
Holmes joined Parker as a mainstay in the starting lineup in all 26 games. He was third in scoring with a 9.3 ppg. average on 40.8 percent shooting (82-of-201). Holmes was second in both free-throws made (64) and attempts (88). He scored in double figures in 11 games, including equaling his career-high of 19 points on three separate occasions. He was also second in both assists (53) and blocked shots (seven) defensively. On the boards, Holmes grabbed 95 rebounds (3.7 rpg.), including 37 offensive rebounds to rank third on the team.
In addition to the three seniors, look for sophomore Dallas Yost (North Fairfield/South Central) to provide depth. Last year, Yost suffered a season-ending injury prior to the start of the season. The remaining roster spots at the guard position will be filled by freshman and first-year transfers.
Defiance returns two players with playing experience from a year ago in Hilliard and sophomore Nick Mesnard (Petoskey, Mich./Petosky).
Hilliard played in 10 games in 2015-16 in a backup role. He ended the season with 21 points while shooting 80.0 percent (eight-of-10) from the field. Hilliard also grabbed 13 rebounds to go along with one assist and four blocked shots.
Mesnard saw signicant playing time in his first year with the program in 21 games coming off the bench. He scored a total of 40 points and pulled down 16 boards to go along with eight assists. Mesnard recorded a season-best 10 points against Anderson (Ind.) University in early January.
The Jackets will also have a young supporting cast behind Hilliard in Mesnard as four other players will make their debuts as freshmen or as a first-year transfer.
Defiance will begin the 2016-17 season with three straight road games, begiinning with a matchup against Trine (Ind.) University in the season-opener on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Angola, Ind.
The Yellow Jackets will play against Wilmington College in their home opener on Nov. 30 and will tip-off the HCAC portion of their schedule that following Saturday (Dec. 3) against Franklin (Ind.) College.
DC will face some tough opponents early in the season with two teams that qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament last year and ranked in this year's national preseason poll in No. 7 The College of Wooster and No. 14 Alma (Mich.) College. Alma also captured the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament last season against the Jackets' season-opener opponent, Trine.