YORK, Pa. – Fresh off of the program's second Capital Athletic Conference championship, the Salisbury University men's basketball team had two players named to the All-Capital Athletic Conference first team, while Salisbury Head Coach Josh Merkel was named CAC "Jeff Gamber" Coach of the Year for the first time, the league announced on Monday.
Merkel earned the award after guiding the Sea Gulls to their first CAC title since the 1995-'96 season and their first 20-win season since the 1996-'97 season, putting together the program's best season under the coach to date. Since the start of the new year, Salisbury has posted a 15-2 record including a current nine-game winning streak to end the regular season and take the CAC championship. With the conference's automatic bid, the team now will play in the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time since the '96-'97 season, as well.
Smith has come on strong for the Gulls in his first season with the team, ranking third in the CAC with 14.2 points per game and second with eight rebounds per game. He is leading the conference with a 58.4 shooting percentage. The Abington, Maryland native leads Salisbury in all three categories, along with averaging 1.2 blocks per game. Smith has played in 24 games this season and has posted eight double-doubles, while eclipsing the 20-point mark five times and pulling down double-digit rebounds eight times.
Witmer earned his position on the All-CAC team after putting together a successful sophomore campaign for the Gulls. He has played in 26 games, while starting 25 for Salisbury and ranks second on the team and 10th in the conference with 12.5 points per game. Witmer sits second on the team and fifth in the conference by shooting 42.5 percent from behind the three-point line, and he has tied the program record of seven three-point makes in a game twice; he scored his season-high 24 points on one of those games on January 7 against the University of Mary Washington.
Witmer's and Smith's selections to the first team mark the first time time since 1995-'96 that Salisbury has had two first-team picks in the CAC.
The Sea Gulls now look forward to the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament, as they will take on Eastern Connecticut State University on Friday, March 6 in Hartford, Connecticut at Trinity (Conn.) College. The start time for the game is to be determined.
To view the entire All-CAC teams, click here.