No summer break for men's basketball newcomers
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
No summer break for men's basketball newcomers

Like every college basketball coach in the nation, Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson is not able to watch his team practice over the summer, per NCAA rules.

And heading into a season like the upcoming one, when his roster will be stocked with so many talented newcomers, he wishes he could.

But the yearly waiting game just works to build up anticipation for his 13th season at Lipscomb, Sanderson said.

“We’re looking forward to getting started. It’s exciting since you’ve got six new guys coming in and a couple more that redshirted last year. Half the team has not played a Division 1 college game.

“You’ve got new blood coming in and all of them are here over the summer.”

A summer full of hard work can be valuable experience for any player, but especially for a team’s newest members. They can get ahead on their studies and earn six credit hours from summer courses. They can also familiarize themselves with the campus, the weight room and their new teammates.

While their coach can’t watch, players are permitted to play pick-up basketball with one another and ideally lay the beginning foundation of a strong team chemistry that can carry with them into the new school year.

“I think camaraderie amongst the players is important for any team,” Sanderson said. “And I think they can build that together since they’re all here for the month of June.”

The most difficult task for the upcoming season, though, could be replacing all-conference leaders Adnan Hodzic and Josh Slater, who both completed their college careers last season. While Sanderson believes his team can overcome those key losses, he said it won't be easy.

“You don’t just replace those guys with one guy,” he said. “We’re going to have to replace those guys by committee with several guys. We have three seniors coming back—Justin Glenn, Brian Wright and Jordan Burgason—who’ll have to step up their leadership role and that’s very important.

“But you don’t replace those guys in one year. It’ll be by committee by our entire team.”

With some of the new guys coming in, though, there is plenty for Sanderson and Lipscomb fans to get excited about heading into the new season.

The team will have its first set of twins in the Sanderson era with the addition of Malcom and Martin Smith of Clarksville Academy, giving this year’s roster four Clarksville natives.

Sanderson also landed one of the Atlantic Sun’s most-heralded recruits in JUCO transfer Deonte Alexander, who averaged 18 points per game last season for East Mississippi Community College.

“Alexander’s got an opportunity to come in here and make an impact,” Sanderson said. “We sign one JUCO guy maybe once every four or five years. He’s played college basketball. He’s got two years under his belt in junior college. We look for him to be able to contribute right away.”

For now Sanderson will be counting down to when he can begin watching this year’s Bisons squad, just like many of the team’s fans.

“It’s difficult not being able to watch because you can’t in the summertime,” said Sanderson. “So far I’ve talked to some guys individually so I know they’re playing everyday and developing some team chemistry. I’d prefer to be able to watch them play, but it won’t be too long.”

Coach Sanderson’s player-by-player analysis of this year’s newcomers:

--Deonte Alexander (JUCO transfer/Glencliff HS): “I think he’s a very good shooter and we want his perimeter shooting. He shoots extremely well. He’s very athletic and should be able to be a good defender and ball-handler.”

--Stephen Hurt (Siegel HS): “He’s a big inside player around the basket. He’s just got to get in better shape, but he’s got a good feel for how to play.”

--Malcom Smith (Clarksville Academy):
“He’s a big strong kid that can play inside or out. He’s very athletic and versatile he can score from the inside or out.”

--Martin Smith (Clarksville Academy):
“I think he’s more skilled than people give he credit for. He can shoot the basketball and can guard multiple positions.”

--Marvin Williams (White Station HS):
“He’s another big kid that’s very skilled around the basket. He’s a pretty good rebounder and a very, very good passer.”

--Zavion Williams (West Creek HS): “I think he’ll be one of the fastest guards on our team from end line to end line. He’s extremely quick and highly competitive. He loves to play at a high level and should be a very good player for us.”