RELEASE DATE: 11/13/09
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mansfield men open 2009-10 season against Bowie State Sunday afternoon – Tough season opener for two veteran teams
MANSFIELD – The Mansfield University men’s basketball team will face a stiff test when the Mountaineers open the 2009-10 season this Sunday by hosting Bowie State (MD) at Decker Gymansium. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
“Bowie State is a historically good program from a very tough basketball conference (CIAA),” said head coach Rich Miller. “Most programs don’t want to open their season with a tough test like that but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Miller, who has directed the Mountaineers to PSAC playoff berth last year and in two of his first four seasons at the helm, has lots of good reasons to be excited about the 2009-10 campaign.
Start with the return of eight players from 2008-09 including four starters off one of the highest scoring teams in the PSAC.
“I’m confident we’re going to be able to score,” said Miller. “But our success last year was really generated by our defense and that’s something we have worked very hard on during preseason.”
Miller has been generally pleased with his team during the preseason which included a close 82-74 loss in an exhibition game at Division I St. Bonaventure.
The star of the St. Bonaventure game was the Mounties big man -- 6-6, 284 pound, junior forward Yuseff Carr. The big man recorded a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds at St. Bonaventure while going against Andrew Nicholson, the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year last season.
Carr, who has already been named to preseason All-PSAC East honors, is considered one of the top returning players in PSAC this season. Last year Carr ranked among the conference scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounding (7.7 rpg) and shot blocking (28) leaders.
Three veteran guards also return to the starting lineup in seniors Ryan Callahan, Chris Pender and Justin Simmons. Callahan is coming off a 14.9 points per game season last year and will start at the #2 guard spot. Callahan is a deadly outside shooter who also likes to make things happen with inside penetration. He hit 50 3-pointers last season while also pulling down 4.7 rebounds per game.
Pender will start at the #3 spot where he averaged 12.1 points per game last season. A fifth-year senior, Pender ranked second in the PSAC last season with 68 three-pointers while also dishing out 47 assists while blocking 20 shots.
Simmons played in all 27 games including 15 starts last year for the Mountaineers after transferring from Millersville. Simmons will start at the point where he will share time with junior Lavail Owens.
Last year’s PSAC East Rookie of the Year Tony Fannick also returns at forward where he averaged 10.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. An outstanding all-around player, Fannick topped the PSAC in free throw shooting percentage last season and also dished out 61 assists.
Brandon Smith, a 6-8 fifth-year senior, had a terrific preseason and is expected to see plenty of action off the bench this year. Mansfield also expects to get bench help from junior Donny Lyons who averaged 3.1 points per game over 26 games last season.
Newcomers who are expected to make an immediate impact include guards Derrison Anthony and Breland Roach.
Bowie State will have a new head coach for the first time in 11 years when they visit Decker Gymnasium on Sunday in alumnus Darrell Brooks. The Bulldogs are also a veteran team featuring six seniors, five of them projected starters.
Duke Crews, a 6-8 senior forward who transferred from the University of Tennessee after earning All-SEC Freshman team honors, averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 points per game last season. Fellow senior Andrew Engel averaged 9.8 points per game in 2008-09 while connecting on 61 three-pointers. Also projected to start for Bowie are seniors Corey Stevens (4.6 ppg), Armond Hill (8.5 ppg) and Delmar Carey (3.0 ppg). Senior Charles Richardson scored a game-high 19-points in an exhibition game this preseason.
It marks the first of five- straight home games to open the season for Mansfield. The Mountaineers will host the University of the District of Columbia on Nov. 24.