Team preview: Wagner

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

If Wagner were somehow able to combine seasons, the Seahawks would have had one heck of a run in 2005. After closing the 2004-05 campaign with an 11-2 mark, which ended in the NEC title game, Wagner picked up right where it left off last year.

The Seahawks raced out to a 6-1 record and almost stunned then No. 12 UCLA, losing 74-72 just before Christmas break. Things were weren't the same after the holiday season, though. Wagner went 7-13 the rest of the way, including a seven-game losing skid in January. Even with a strong finish -- winning three of its last four -- the team missed a shot at postseason play for the first time in six seasons.

"It worked in reverse for us," coach Mike Deane said.

This season, Deane's Seahawks would like to play a complete season, and they have a good shot at it with three starters back to go with a seasoned bench.

However, the team was dealt a blow in late August when 6-5 sophomore guard Jamal Smith (8.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg), an all-rookie team selection, was not cleared to play for medical reasons. His status was to be reassessed in December, but he will probably miss the season.

"He's one of the best players in our program ... but these things happen," said Deane, who brought in 6-7 freshman Christian Martinus Nielsen from Denmark because of Smith's uncertainty in the summer.

Nielsen, who's 20, has a decent mid-range shot and can play guard and both forward spots, providing help and depth at all three spots. He averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals last season overseas.

"He adds another dimension for us." Deane said. "He will be difficult for teams to match up with at guard [because of his size]."