BC Basketball Set to Open New Season
BC men's basketball gets ready for the 2012-2013 season
October 29, 2012
The Bluefield men’s basketball team opens its 2012-2013 season tonight, looking to outperform outside expectations as it moves up to a new level of competition.
The Rams will travel to Huntington, W.Va., this evening to play an exhibition game against Marshall, a NCAA Division I team that is projected to be one of the top teams in Conference USA this season.
The Rams were 19-16 last season and finished third in the AAC, the most successful season under fourth-year head coach Richard Morgan.
This year, the Rams will begin their first season as a NAIA Division I program. After a successful run as a charter member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference, the Rams are moving to the Mid-South Conference, one of the toughest leagues in the nation. Bluefield was predicted to finish last in the conference in the MSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
BC head coach Richard Morgan at basketball media day
Morgan said he knew the Rams would have their hands full with the new league, but he welcomes the challenge.
“I’m a little bit hurt by the way they placed us in the standings,” said Morgan. “We knew it was going to be tough coming into this league. Four of the teams in this league are in the top 25 in the country. We are not going to say that that’s ok. We are going to come out and we are going to compete and we are going to play hard.”
The Rams return three starters from a season ago, led by six-foot-seven senior forward Byron Carpenter. On his way to being selected as an All-American and named the AAC Player of the Year, Carpenter averaged 21.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. He finished the season ranked in the top five nationally in Division II in both of those categories.
Morgan said the team’s success this season depends on Carpenter’s performance.
“He’s a very special guy who can play in the middle,” said Morgan. “There are not a lot of true post players out there anymore.”
There have been comparisons between Carpenter and former Rams star Omar “Juice” Reed, who is now playing in the NBA D-League with the San Antonio Spurs’ development team. However, the two are vastly different players.
“Byron is the best big man I’ve had in the middle, as far as scoring,” said Morgan. “Juice was a different kind of player, an all-around player. Byron is strictly back-to-the-basket. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a back-to-the-basket guy who can do what he can do. He just needs to stay in his lane and do what he does.”
Another key aspect for the Rams in 2012 will be the play of returning guards Drew Wilson and Kearsten “Houston” Marion. The quick, shifty guards initiate a fast-paced Rams offense that put up the third-most total points nationally in Division II last season, and sank the second-highest total three-pointers.
When defenses focus on Carpenter, the floor will open up for Wilson and Marion to score.
“This league has not seen this type of guards, and I think I’ll put them up against anybody in this league,” said Morgan. “They are very, very talented.”
Wilson, a sophomore guard who averaged 14.6 points per game and 3.7 assists per game last season, echoed the sentiments of his head coach. His partner in the backcourt, Marion, averaged 16.7 points per game and 3.6 assists per game a year ago.
“Nobody has really seen a two-guard front like us,” said Wilson. “We are both pretty much the same height. We are not big. Either one of us can bring up the ball. For us to be scorers as quick as we are, it causes a matchup problem on both ends.”
Devin Page and Tucker Hobbie, a pair of sophomore forwards, are expected to join the Rams returning playmakers in the starting lineup. They will be looking to fill the voids left by departing starters Ted Oboute and Borgia M’bala.
“I think the new guys fill the spots very well,” said Wilson. “They do what the starters did for us last year, and more, which will help us out all around. It should a better outcome on defense and offense.”
The theme on offense will be similar to a year ago. The Rams want to get up the court and score quickly.
“We are going to look run more and shoot more, try to get quicker shots,” said Wilson. “Run, score as quickly as possible. If that doesn’t work, we’re going to feed Byron and let him score. We just want to be fast and quick all the time.”
Bluefield’s offense has proven it can score, but Wilson said the coaching staff has been pushing defensive improvements during the offseason.
“We want to get after people and frustrate them, press and deny the basketball and make sure people don’t get it,” said Wilson. “We want to make them do something they don’t want to do. Coach really stressed that this year. We weren’t that good defensively last year.”
Following the exhibition with Marshall tonight, the games will start to count. The Rams will face Virginia University of Lynchburg at the Dome Gymnasium on Nov. 3, the first of five consecutive home games.
The Rams will play their first Mid-South Conference game on Nov. 15 at home against No. 3 Georgetown (Ky.). The Tigers were picked to finish first in the MSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
“We tip it off here soon and we will see what we have got,” said Morgan. “I am really looking forward to the season just to see where we end up because it is not going to be where we are right now.”