To use the colloquialism, “who woulda thunk it?” Last year’s men’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the South Atlantic Conference, but ended up climbing the ladder to fourth place in the league. Better yet, the David Conrady-led squad was the only team not upset in the first two rounds of the conference tournament. The Indians found themselves in the tournament final against Catawba, but could not win that last game required to make the NCAA Tournament.
The 16-13 season, the fourth place finish, and the berth in the tournament finals are all great--for last year’s team. New head coach Shaun Golden wants to build on that for the 2004-05 season.
“In a way of growth, we don’t want to dwell on last year,” Golden said. “Yes, it was a stepping stone to where we want to go, but this year we pretty much have a new team. We don’t want to be haunted by ‘the Ghost of Last Year’. We’re basically starting from scratch.”
Nine players will return from last year’s squad, but two notables--Rashaad Carter and Brandon Moses--were lost to graduation. The Indians will have to find a way to replace the 27 points and 10 boards per game that the duo provided.
“It’s not an easy feat to rebound from those kinds of losses,” Golden added, “especially with new players, a new coach, and a new system. We’d like to have instant success, but realistically, it will take time for the guys to get accustomed to my thoughts and ideas. The returning players will be the core of our success.”
The Indians were picked to finish eighth in the SAC preseason coaches’ poll, and they hope to prove the league wrong again. With a nonconference schedule including East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Furman, Lander, and Georgia College and State, Golden’s wish is that his men will be prepared for the conference portion of the schedule come January.
Newberry opens up the season at Georgia College and State University Monday night at 7:30, then play in the Mt. Olive Pickle Classic next Friday and Saturday. The team comes home for the first time on the 23rd when it hosts Erskine in the second half of a doubleheader.