|THE CITADEL | PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE||
Early season wins give boost to Bulldogs
A season-opening victory at Army has helped the Bulldogs gain confidence as they launch into the season. With a schedule that features seven home games before beginning conference play on December 21st against Western Carolina, The Citadel has a bench that may be among the deepest Coach Pat Dennis has seen in his previous 12 years at the college.
Point guard Kevin Hammack (31.1 minutes, 9.7 points), who needs only 129 assists to break the school’s all-time assist record, will again anchor the squad as the floor leader. He will be asked to run the team first, but Dennis knows he has to give Hammack the green light to score when he gets the chance.
Fellow guard Dante Terry (11.3 points, 30.4 minutes), who led the team in scoring last year, and lone senior Kedron Young, who gave the Bulldogs quality minutes in 2004 by playing in 19 games and setting 12 personal highs, will continue to be the scoring threats in the backcourt. Terry has improved on the defensive end, and will be needed to handle the ball as a reserve point guard.
Up front, sharpshooter Matt Davis (27 games) and versatile J’mel Everhart (7.4 points, 7 rebounds) will provide scoring and rebounding to the small forward position, while junior Matt Gochnauer will be on the low block as a power forward. Everhart, who earned league all-freshman honors last season, and Davis will offer a solid one-two punch on both ends of the floor. Davis has the ability to shut down any scorer and shoot from anywhere on the floor, while Everhart will crash the boards and score in the paint with his athleticism. The duo allows the Bulldogs to match up against multiple looks.
Second-year player Joe Thompson played in all but one game as a freshman and marked a career-high 12 points coming off the bench against High Point.
At center, 6-11 junior Andy Miller (27 blocks), the team’s most improved player, is a likely starter as Dennis considers him the most athletic big man he has ever coached. Miller’s athleticism complements his desire to become a dominant player in the league. Sophomore Aaron Xia, at 6-7, showed flashes of brilliance as he started 11 games and played in 26.
Joining the crew is sophomore transfer Donny McLendon (Mercer),who will miss the first six games because of transferring. McLendon is expected to add a solid scorer with experience to the list of guards.
Even with a solid core of returning players, the four freshmen will have to contribute in order for The Citadel to have a respectable season.
In the post, first-year players Warren McLendon, younger brother of Donny, and John’s Island native Demetrius Nelson will look to add power in the paint.
Dennis believes that McLendon is a player who can take control of a game with his power and skill. The coach predicts that McLendon will leave a huge mark on the SoCon by the time he graduates. McLendon is expected to challenge for the starting job at power forward with a solid preseason.
Coming into preseason drills, Dennis knew that he had someone special in the 6-6 Nelson, but didn’t realize how well he moves under the basket and how far along his skills are. Nelson’s biggest asset is his determination to be a quality student-athlete and Dennis expects him to join McLendon as an immediate force.
Even with all this, Dennis knows
he has a tough road ahead. He therefore thinks that if the freshmen can step
up and his returning group can continue to improve, The Citadel will soon return
to those back-to-back winning ways.
Forward this to a friend