BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The men’s basketball team at Bethune-Cookman begins its new season on Nov. 9 at St Bonaventure. Their first home game is Nov. 27 against North Florida.
Here’s a preview of the new season.
2011-12: 18-17 overall, 11-5 for fourth in MEAC; runner-up in MEAC tournament.
Head Coach: Gravelle Craig, second season 18-17 overall.
Key losses: Anthony Breeze (10.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg); Garrious Holloman (11.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg); Stanley Elliott (5.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
Key returners: Adrien Coleman (11.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg); Kevin Dukes (11.7 ppg), Ricky Johnson (6 ppg); Javoris Bryant (6.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Mikel Trapp (2.9 ppg); Paul Scotland (3.3 ppg); and Alex Smith (1.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg).
Key newcomers: Myron Repress, Malik Jackson; and Allen Dempster.
After four consecutive winning seasons, Bethune-Cookman is ready to take the next step.
B-CU is looking to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament and make the NCAA Tournament.
In 2010-11, the Wildcats were the MEAC regular season champions and in 2011-12 they made it to the tournament championship game losing to Norfolk State.
Head coach Gravelle Craig is entering his second year leading the program after serving last season as the interim coach.
“It’s been a familiar experience getting ready for this season. I have been here for eight years,” said Craig.
B-CU added much needed size bringing in 6’ 8’’ junior center Myron Repress from City College of San Francisco, 6’7’’ freshman forward Allan Dempster and 6’ 7’’ junior guard Malik Jackson from Miami Dade College.
“The biggest thing will be getting them caught up defensively. Malik is a big guard that can shoot and gives us size on the parameter. Repress is a big post presence especially on defense,” commented Craig.
‘A team thing’
The Wildcats return a core of players, including their leader in senior point guard Kevin Dukes.
“I’m just working hard trying to get ready for the season. I’m shooting everyday, even late at night. I’m talking to my teammates all the time and doing all that I can to be a good leader,” stated Dukes.
They also return a potent scorer in junior guard Adrien Coleman.
“I think that we will have a balanced scoring attack. It’s a team thing. We have to keep our drive and determination all season,” responded Coleman.
The Wildcats also have sophomore guard Ricky Johnson who got a lot of experience last year.
“Ricky has a great basketball IQ. Both Ricky and Kevin are point guards. Kevin likes to play with Ricky because it frees him up to shoot. I can play them together in three guard sets. We can get away with it in conference but it’s a problem against bigger teams in non conference games. Mikel Trapp and Paul Scotland will play guard,” said Craig.
Another player B-CU will depend heavily upon is senior forward Javoris Bryant.
“I hope that my late season momentum from last year carries over. I believe that everything comes together this year. I just have to be consistent,” answered Bryant.
“We are expecting a big year from him. He could be our x-factor this year,” added Craig.
With their personnel, the Wildcats feel that they can throw different lineups and play various styles.
“I think we will be fine offensively with a lot of guys returning. We are cutting some offensive sets and will let guys play more. We will try to get play up tempo and get some transition three’s. On defense, we will try to do more zone,” commented Craig.
Outlook: B-CU has added much needed size. The Wildcats are a veteran team.
They should be in the MEAC title race although Savannah State and Morgan State will most likely be the favorites to win it. They have a tough schedule facing NCAA tournament teams in St Bonaventure and Pittsburg. They also have UCF, LSU and Kent State on the schedule. If B-CU stays healthy, the new guys catch on fast and have momentum come tournament time they will give themselves a chance to do something special.
Volleyball: B-CU falls to FAMU
The Wildcats (3-20, 3-2) lost to rival Florida A&M (6-8, 5-0) 3-0 in MEAC play on Oct. 12.
FAMU now leads B-CU by two games in the MEAC South Division.
Krysta Gardner had 10 kills with seven digs, Janeen Davis added nine kills, Monica Lowe had 21 assists and Delicia Pierre contributed seven kills with two blocks for B-CU.
The Wildcats were to face North Florida on Tuesday. They play at Coppin State and Morgan State on Oct. 21-22.
Football rested; bowling ready
After a bye week, the Wildcats will host defending MEAC champion Norfolk State University in the Biker Classic on Oct. 20.
Norfolk (2-5, 0-4) is averaging 18.9 points per game while giving up 23.4.
B-CU (4-2, 3-0) is averaging 25.8 points per game and 223.8 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats led the nation and the MEAC in turnover margin (2.50), takeaways (22) and turnover differential (+15).
The women’s bowling team begins its season on Oct. 19-21 at the Tulane Invitational in New Orleans, Louisiana. B-CU is ranked No. 18 nationally and is led by senior Staci Hilliard.