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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Countdown to Terrier Basketball

Wofford+Forward+Messiah+Jones+%2825%29+rises+for+a+jump+shot+during+practice.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Maggie+Royce.
Wofford Forward Messiah Jones (25) rises for a jump shot during practice. Photo courtesy of Maggie Royce.

Wofford hoops looks to follow up historic seasons

As the countdown to the return of Terrier Basketball continues, both basketball teams look to pick up where they left off last season, with both Men’s and Women’s basketball having historic runs in their respective seasons.

After winning the Southern Conference championship with a 21-0 league record and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament after defeating the Seton Hall Pirates of the Big East conference, Wofford Men’s Basketball will, according to new Head Coach Jay McAuley, “look a lot different than we did last year.”

Following the departure of coach Mike Young for Virginia Tech after decades at Wofford, Coach McAuley earned a promotion from Associate Head Coach to Head Coach, a transition that he says has been “great.”

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McAuley: “It feels like yesterday we were in March playing in the NCAA tournament, and then you blink, summer goes by, and we’re already in preseason and getting ready for our first game here in a few weeks. It’s been busy, but it’s a good busy.”

Having lost players like Fletcher Magee, Matthew Pegram and Cameron Jackson to graduation, the Men’s team looks to senior guard Nathan Hoover, as well as veteran guard Storm Murphy and forward Chevez Goodwin to provide a boost this season that will propel the Terriers into conference play with momentum. The Men’s team also welcomes freshmen Zion Richardson, Jonathan Steelman and Morgan Safford, as well as transfer David Appelgren.

Hoover, a preseason All-SoCon selection, says that the team’s goal is “of course to win the SoCon championship again, have another great season [and] not just think last year was just a one-time thing.”

Hoover: “For me, I’d love to get more than just preseason All-Conference team. I want to be one of the best players in the country hopefully…. There’s a bunch of guys on our team that I 100% could see winning awards like Storm and Chevy—a lot of people are sleeping on them.”

Also making their college debuts for the Terriers are Isaiah Bigelow and Messiah Jones, two players who redshirted last season, but who were around for the team’s championship campaign.

“They’re interchangeable pieces which, in today’s basketball world, that’s where the game’s moving towards,” says Coach McAuley. “Guys with length, guys with athleticism, guys that can shoot, drive it, do multiple things with the ball in their hands.”

Hoover expects the presence of Bigelow and Jones to “be a big difference this year.” He cited Bigelow’s and height and shooting ability as two of his biggest strengths, as well as Jones’ strength and how hard he plays. 

As for the team at-large, McAuley expects the team’s length to allow the Terriers to “probably create a little bit more steals and deflections,” allowing them team to turn defense into offense, something Wofford basketball hangs its hat on. Also, a big emphasis comes on the ability of Wofford’s point guards—Storm Murphy, Ryan Larson, and Donovan Theme-Love—to “take care of the rock every single day,” but McAuley also says to look for Wofford point guards to be more of a scoring threat this season.

Wofford Women’s basketball is coming off of a season in which they advanced to the second round of the SoCon tournament despite injuries to key players like Chloe Wanink and Jackie Carman. After only losing one senior in Marissa Bayer, the team is working its way back to full health and preparing for a deep roster that, as Coach Jimmy Garrity says, will be strongest in “pushing that ball up and down [the floor].” Bringing in freshman forward Lilly Hatton and returning players like Wanink, Carman, senior guard Cairo Booker, and junior forward Jamari McDavid, the Terriers’ key pieces are still in place to make a run.

The Women’s Basketball team led the Southern Conference in scoring and in fewest turnovers per game, as well as  in assist-to-turnover ratio, something that not only the coaches pride themselves on, but also junior point guard Da’ja Green who, along with preseason All-SoCon selection and preseason SoCon player of the year Chloe Wanink, was chosen as a preseason All-SoCon player, as well.

Green: “My main personal goal is just to have a very high assist-to-turnover ratio. I really pride myself in making sure that I get my teammates the ball, but also limiting my turnovers. I know that I have the ball in my hands a lot of times, so I just try to make sure that I’m valuing the basketball so that my teammates can do that same.”

Just like the Men, the Women have the ultimate goal of winning the Southern Conference championship in mind. Green “thinks we really have all the pieces this year and that everyone’s mental is where it needs to be,” and returning largely the same roster is something that coaches and players alike believe will pay dividends in the long run in terms of chemistry and familiarity with the system in place.

Garrity: “They’ve been through it; they’ve played together for a full year… [Last year’s freshmen] know the system, they’ve transitioned from high school to college, and just being another year older is gonna help that.”

Green appreciates that this roster “[doesn’t] have to worry so much about rebuilding chemistry. You already have the same people who know the set plays and things like that.” However, she also acknowledges that one potential obstacle is that “the other teams in the conference know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses for the most part, so it just forces us to make sure that we add something to our game through this preseason.” 

The Women’s team will open the season with three straight road games on November 6, 10 and 14 at Auburn, Wisconsin=Madison, and Gardner-Webb before playing their home opener against Coastal Carolina on Sunday, November 17 at 2 P.M. The Men begin their season at home with three straight home games as they host Erskine, High Point, and William and Mary on November 5, 9 and 12. Tip-off for each game is scheduled for 7 P.M.

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