Season Preview: GU men's basketball team combines youth with experience for 2010-11 season
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Gallaudet University men's basketball team will enter its first season in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) after playing 20 seasons in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). The Bison are a young, cohesive group on the rise that only lost one senior from last year's squad. Head coach Jeb Barber enters his fourth season at the helm and welcomes six new faces, which include four freshmen, to the squad.
"I believe that we'll take a big step forward from last year's season [5-19]. The loss of our only senior, Johnny Jackson, who was a 1,000-point scorer, is significant but I believe that we will overcome it. Our returning guys have worked very hard in the offseason, and they're ready to take the next step. We have a good group of impactful incoming players, including [junior] Layton Seeber (Champaign, Ill.), who transferred from Lake Land Community College, among others," said Barber.
Last season, the roster was somewhat undersized when it came to height but things have improved in 2010-11 where 13 Bison are listed at over 6-foot-1 or taller. Barber believes that the team's offensive style offsets the lack of height.
"When we play against big teams, they have to play in our up-tempo attack. So I believe that's an advantage on our part," said Barber.
The Bison gain some continuity from last season as the team has eight returning players. Leading the way is junior guard Tony Tatum (Gardendale, Ala.) who finished the 2009-10 season with 11.5 points per game (ppg), 4.4 rebounds (rpg), 2.7 assists (apg), 1.6 steals (spg), and 0.8 blocks (bpg) per game average. His best game of the season came against Randolph College, in which he had 25 points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Tatum will serve as one of three captains for the Bison.
Senior guard Luther Weedon (Walkersville, Md.) looks to continue the momentum he gained from last season, in which he averaged 6.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.4 apg and 0.4 spg. His best game came against Hood College at home on January 13, 2010, when he contributed 14 points, two rebounds, two steals and an assist to go with four three-pointers. Coach Barber called Weedon "instant offense off the bench" a great asset for the team.
Sophomore guard Joshua Sisco (Spartansburg, S.C.) started the season on a tear, but injuries hampered his once-promising season. He ended his season playing in 11 games, averaging 11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 spg and a .469 field goal percentage. He had a great all-around game at home against Maryland Bible College on November 29, 2009, when he totaled 27 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and three three-pointers. The Bison are hopeful that Sisco can remain healthy for the 2010-11 season. Fellow sophomore guard Jocus Houston (Baton Rouge, La.) averaged 4.6 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.7 apg and 0.6 spg. His best all-around game came in a road matchup against Wesley College on February 23, 2010, when he had seven points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two three-pointers.
Sophomore forward Danny Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio) had a great second half to the season, as he averaged 11.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 apg and 0.6 spg in 15 games played. Kelly's best game of the season came at home against Marymount (Va.) University on January 23, 2010, when he had a double-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and a steal. Junior forward Daniel Fava (Baltimore, Md.) played in 24 games as a sophomore last season and added 2.21 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.3 bpg and shot 44.2 percent from the field. Fava's best all-around contest occurred at home on February 18, 2010, against Christendom College as he totaled 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block.
Junior guard Brandon McMillan (Frederick, Md.) enters his third season as a valued member of the Bison backcourt. He ended his freshman campaign with 10.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 spg and a .411 field goal percentage. The highlight of McMillan's season came against Stevenson University on December 2, 2009, at the Field House, where he tallied 33 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and a couple of three-pointers.
During his junior campaign, guard Bobby Siebert (St. Paul, Minn.) averaged 4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.7 apg and 0.8 spg while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor. On November 23, 2009, Siebert contributed 11 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal and two three-pointers. Siebert and Weedon are the lone seniors on the roster this season. Siebert has also received the honor of being one of three team captains.
Junior forward Marcus Terry (Indianapolis, Ind.) looks to add some power to the team after a 2009-10 season that he had to miss due to injury. Terry helped the Bison to an 11-14 (2-14) record in his 2008-09 campaign.
Junior guard Joshua Sechman (Harrisburg, Pa.), who last played in 2007, will rejoin the team for this upcoming season as well.
Seeber, who will also captain the team, will head a class of incoming players that will learn Coach Barber's up-tempo system this year. The Bison welcome new guards Gabriel Paulone (Fishers, Ind.) and Nico Ruiz (Loomis, Calif.) to the squad. Incoming forwards include freshmen Tyler Crace (Westfield, Ind.) and Cyron Stokes (Blacksburg, Va.).
The team will begin its season at the Scotty Wood Tournament hosted by Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., beginning with a match against Wilkes University on November 19. After a home match against Christendom College on November 22, the Bison will host the annual GU Holiday Tournament where the Buff and Blue are two-time reigning champions. However, Barber believes it will be tough to duplicate that success in this year's tournament.
"It means a lot to win the first two titles [for Gallaudet] in the tournament's rich history. [But] it will be difficult to defend the title with Embry-Riddle University participating in the tournament this year," said Barber. "Embry-Riddle was a top-10 NAIA team last year and has a team full of scholarship athletes. Even though Embry-Riddle is a very good team, I expect our guys to step up to the challenge and compete if we do play them in the second round."
The Bison play at home in five straight contests throughout January, capped off by hosting a game against defending NEAC champion and nationally ranked #19 State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT) on January 23. The Wildcats (26-5) won the regular season title, playoffs, Player of the Year award (David Golembiowski), Coach of the Year award (Kevin Grimmer), and tournament MVP award (Diloo Brown).
With a mix of returning players and new faces, the Bison look to make a splash in its first season in the NEAC. The conference championships will be held on February 26-28.