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D-1 Independent 2002-03 Season Recap

May 30, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



D-1 Independents 2002-03 Season Recap

by Stephen Murphy

The 2002-03 season was like most other independent basketball seasons –
unawardful. No conference tournament to write about, no post season glamour.
The NCAA does not keep official statistics for Independent teams, so while
we’re paying attention, and giving tribute, most Athletic Directors wish
some Conferences were.

Birmingham Southern has just finished their
provisional status, and will be an official member of the Big South
Conference next season. Centenary is ecstatic to join the Mid Continent
Conference, and more elated to officially compete in that conference
immediately. Some Independent teams are new to D-1 so the struggle
they ensued was expected, as no Independent team finished above .500.
Centenary earned the highest marks at 14-14. Andrew Wisniewski was named the
Independent Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and was one of three players
from last year’s team to earn repeat honors.

The Islanders (Texas A&M
Corpus-Christi) were left with sour tastes in their mouths just missing the
.500 mark at 14-15. Texas Pan-American was the closest after those two with
a dismal 10-20 mark. Each year that goes by without earning an acceptance
into a conference a team is left to wither in anguish.

For some it seems
that there is no direction to go but down, an unfortunately for Morris Brown
not only were they pointed that way, they were expeditiously stripped of
their athletics for failing to meet the requirements.

In a decision not embraced by the Wolverine athletic staff at Morris Brown,
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools denied the historically
black college request to restore its accreditation in April. Morris Brown
has suspended its sports programs; all of the coaches were laid off. A lack
of Financial constancy caused MB to lose its accreditation in December, the
school has since just lost its appeal at the hands of the SACC. Morris Brown
is the only black college founded by blacks in Georgia, and they just lost a
trial for their athletic livelihood. It was certainly a season of streaks
for the coach Thompson and the Wolverines, and unfortunately those streaks
will come to an end.

Morris Brown was forced to fight in the final stage of the modern war on
horseback, and the result was inevitable. Morris Brown has been dealing with
rising debt of about $27 million, $10 million of which is supposedly due in
a couple of weeks. There are also accusations by Federal investigators that
the school illegally received millions in student financial aid and used it
to pay debts.

As a result of the loss of accreditation, Morris Brown no
longer qualifies for federal financial aid unfortunately relied upon by
nearly 90 percent of its students. Oh, by the way, the school’s membership
in the United Negro College Fund will be removed, and students will be
scrambling to find a University to accept some credits they obtained during
their tenure at MBU for transfer.

For some this comes as no surprise, In 2001 the situation was So bad
financially that the basketball team spent $3.5 million against $1.9 million
in revenues. Coach Derek Thompson forked out $1,500 from his own pocket
trying to recruit. Thompson had to take the place of the team trainer, and
tape ankles, also wash uniforms, The reason: One of his assistants had
resigned during the trip, the other was suspended, and the school (for
budget reasons) had forbidden the manager and trainer from traveling with
the team.

Hoopville’s All-Independent Awards

Player of the Year

Andrew Wisniewski, Centenary

Defensive Player of the Year

Corey Lamkin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Newcomer of the Year

David Simon, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne

Freshman of the Year

James Poindexter, Lipscomb

Coach of the Year

Kevin Johnson, Centenary

First Team All-Independent:
Brian Evans, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Amien Hicks, Morris Brown
Corey Lamkin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Kevin Mitchell, Texas-Pan American
Andrew Wisniewski, Centenary

Second Team All-Independent
Travis Bailey, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Michael Gale, Centenary
Ryan Roller, Lipscomb
Chad Hartman, Lipscomb
Ric Wyand, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne

Centenary

The Gents finished with the best record of any Independent team at 14-14,
not bad for smallest NCAA Division I school in the country. Centenary was
the cream of Independent crop, and hands down had the best player in the
conference in Andrew Wisniewski. Wisniewski finished the season as the
Independent player of the year, and was a selection on the all-Independent
team for the 2nd year in a row. Wisniewski started all 28 games for the
Gents and led the team in minutes, points, assists, and steals. Coach Kevin
Johnson is thrilled to have Andrew back for another season, as the Gents
aren’t losing a player to graduation.

Centenary won’t get complacent, as Kevin Johnson has announced that Cody
Hopkins has signed a letter of intent to play for the Gents beginning in the
2003-04 season. Hopkins is a 6’6″ small forward from Texas who comes from
Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa. Hopkins can light it up from the arc
and can create shots off his dribble, which can give the Gents an additional
scoring option next season. Hopkins joins fall signees Stanley Turner and
Troy Williams in this year’s recruiting class. Centenary will become the
ninth member of the Mid-Continent Conference beginning in the 2003-2004
season, and the school will be eligible for conference championships and
NCAA tournament automatic bids immediately. With the return of their star
Wisniewski, and their four other starters, Centenary will have colossal
impact on the Mid Continent Conference. The Gents might have a small
enrollment of just 890 students, But Wisniewski and clan will be sure to
make their entrance is felt. Centenary will by far be the smallest school in
the Mid-Con.

Key players returning:
Senior guard – Andrew Wisniewski
Senior guard/forward – Michael Gale
Senior forward – Shawn Davis
Senior guard – Rickey Evans
Junior guard – Josh Thibodeaux
Senior guard/forward – Aaron Moseley

Texas A&M – Corpus Christi

A&M was the Independent’s second best team just finishing under the .500
mark at 14-15 this season. Head Coach Ronnie Arrow developed a reputation
for up-tempo, high scoring teams. Arrow’s fast pace style is what guided A&M
to a semi-successful season. Arrow and company will not stop there, the
Islanders envision something, and it is not prefaced with “semi” like their
supposed successful season. Arrow will keep ingraining his up-tempo style,
imploring his guards to push the ball up court. Whether or not the
comprehension and talent will come forth remains the question at large. The
good news for A&M is that the Bailey brothers will be back for their senior
season. The Bailey’s have adjusted well to Arrow’s fast pace, and can be a
prolific scoring combo for the Islanders next year. Thomas Bailey is a small
forward who can play the 2 (SG) Tracy Mcgrady like in his size for his
position, George Gervin like with his finger-roll style. Thomas has yet to
reach his potential, and lacks physical presence.

Derrick Murphy is a
contrast to Bailey. Murphy is more the blue-collar physical type, the 6’7″
Jr. power forward who has a knack for getting the ball, and puts up the most
consistent effort for the Islanders. The good news is that Murph is back,
the bad, outdated news is that Murph did not have the success the Islander
staff envisioned, and they aspire larger things for Derrick in 2003-04. With
all that said, the real news is that Brian Evans the floor General is also
back for the upcoming season, and he is the integral part in this run and
gun style. Second in scoring to Travis Bailey but the Islander leader in
assists, he will prove invaluable in the season to come where A&M will
return ALL of their starting lineup.

Key returning players:
Travis Bailey, forward – SR
Brian Evans, Guard – SR
Thomas Bailey, Forward – SR
Aaron White, Guard – SO
Derrick Murphy, Forward – SR

Texas Pan-American

UTPA finished the season with a 10-20 mark, slightly disappointing after
last season’s 20-10 finish, which left most Bronc fans livid after not
getting a NIT selection. The worst loss will be forthcoming for Coach Bob
Hoffman’s staff due to the graduation of Kevin Mitchell. Mitchell was an
immediate impact for UTPA upon arrival. Mitchell was named first team
All-Independent as the 2002-2003 A repeat winner after being named second
team All-Independent last year. Mitchell led the Broncs in scoring this
season, averaging 14.7 points per game, was tied for the team lead with 48
steals, and was second with 97 assists. One of two players to start every
game, Mitchell scored 20 points or more in a game eight times, and was in
double figures in scoring 22 times, including a stretch of 12 consecutive
games, a stretch that included only two home games. He broke the UTPA
all-time single-season record by playing 1,072 minutes and ranks fourth on
the all-time single-season list with 79 three-point field goals and 222
three-point attempts during the 2002-2003 season. He also is tied for fourth
on the all-time career list at UTPA with 134 three-point field goals, and is
fifth on the all-time career list with 351 three-point attempts.

UTPA will
also miss defensive minded guard James Davis, who Sparked the Broncs
defensively playing in 29 of the Broncs’ 30 games last season. Hoffman, to
the Bronc’s content decided to stay at UTPA, withdrawing his name in
consideration from Campbell University. Hoffman then quickly went on the
recruiting trail adding more recruits for the fall. Alvaidas Gedminas, a
seven-foot center from Plunge, Lithuania, Gedminas hopes to prevent the
Broncs from taking another plunge like they did this year. UTPA also landed
Ryan Lange, a 6-11 center from Inwood, Iowa will join the Broncs this fall.
Both Gedminas and Lange will enter as juniors, with two years of
eligibility. Gedminas averaged a double-double last season for the
Firebirds, scoring 12.6 points per game and pulling down 12 boards per game.
Gedminas ranked fifth in rebounding in Division I of the National Junior
College Athletic Association. Alvaidas will bring size and strength to a
Bronc team on the rebound next season. Also signing were two players from
Temple College in Texas. Sergio Sanchez, a 5-10 guard, and his Temple
teammate Ray Castillo, a 6-5 guard, will join the Broncs this fall. Both
players are from San Antonio, TX and South San Antonio HS. Sanchez and
Castillo will enter Texas-Pan American as juniors, with two years of
eligibility. Castillo was the leading scorer for Temple in conference play,
averaging 16.3 points per game.

Key players returning:
junior guard Eric Montalvo junior
Senior forward Allen Holcomb
Senior guard Prince Thompson

Indiana Purdue – Ft. Wayne

The Mastodons failed to improve on a 7-21 season the prior season. The
season got off to a very torpid start for the Mastodons, which saw them drop
their first five games, before finally earning a victory November 30th at
home versus Eastern Kentucky. IPFW defeated Lipscomb in their very next
game, but went on to drop their next eight. Things were so bad in FT Wayne
that they only had two wins by January 7th. Coach Knoll knew he had a
struggle on his hands, that’s why IPFW hired assistant Coach Cliff
Levingston in the off season to help his young Mastodon team in the low
post. Deangelo Woodall is out of eligibility, and Terry Collins had a
disappointing season for coach Noll, and staff. Knoll went on the recruiting
trail in 02-03 and landed standout guard Quinton Carouthers, and forward
Kyle Thrasher. The two only averaged 3.8 points combined last season. Next
seasons success is going to be attributed to the basketball augmentation of
those two. The ball is going to go through forward Ric Wyand, and center Jim
Kessinich. Kessinich is athletic for a big man who can stretch out defenses
with his outside ability, and can also run the floor well for a big man.
Wyand shot 42% from beyond the 3-pt arc, and was the second leading Mastodon
scorer. The Mastodons only lose one starter in Jeremy King. Simon was the
newcomer of the year in Independent play.

Back to the recruiting trail to help improve on 10 wins in the past two
seasons. Noll inked point guard Lewis Cass Bauer to play Basketball at IPFW.
Bauer led his team to a perfect 26-0 record this season, including a State
Championship. He led his team in points, assists, rebounds, and steals.
Bauer will be a point guard of the future, and can compete with Carouthers
for the point slot. Joining Bauer in this year’s recruiting class is Eric
Bergstrom, a 6-10 center out of Milaca, Minnesota. Bergstrom averaged 18
points and 9 rebounds per game in his senior year. Other recruits include:
Byron Malone, 6-0 guard out of Indianapolis North Central, Pete Campbell,
6-7 forward from Yorktown, Indiana, and Garrett High School standout Justin
Hawkins. Hawkins averaged 16.5 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game for
the Railroaders, as they went 18-5 this season.

Key returning players:
Jim Kessenich – F/C SR
Ric Wyand – F JR
Terry Collins – G JR
David Simon – C JR
Quintin Carouthers – G SO
Kyle Thrasher – F JR

Morris Brown

We can talk all day about the aforementioned budget dilemma that has caused
Morris Brown to suspend all athletics indefinitely. In a lesser dilemma the
Wolverines finished the season 8-20, a slight improvement over their prior
season. The dream is gone most likely for most MBU players; organized
basketball has come to a crashing end for members of this Wolverine squad.

Coach Dereck Thompson was gong to miss Amien Hicks anyway, Hicks led all
Independents in rebounding with an astounding 12.4 rebounds per game
average, that’s four more rebounds than Corey Lamkin who is second on the
list. Hicks was second in the nation, in rebounds per game, averaging 2.4
more than Nick Collison, and only .2 less than leader Brandon Hunter of
Ohio. Coach Thompson knew in the season prior that he had to get help on the
boards, that is why he was able to bring in some football players from MBU.
I suppose Hicks knows how to get into a 3-pt stance, as he had a lot of help
from members of an opposite sport. Guard Anthony Adams was second in
Independent scoring in points per game with 16.8. The Wolverines were
noticeably better, the team was coming together, although they were still
scheduling games with the elite (USC, Clemson, Rutgers) MBU was able to pull
together during the second half of the season. The Wolverines won for their
first time this season in their second contest; they would subsequently drop
their next 12 games before finally obtaining a victory over Clark Atlanta to
start a four game winning streak. Needless to say their eight victories
were three more than the five they earned in 2002. The Purple in Black will
no longer be allowed to assay their talent or try to elevate their games
against superior competition, and we salute Morris Brown for playing with
passion, and playing to win.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The
credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred
by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short
again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and
spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the
triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails
while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Lipscomb

Youth was a big concern with ten freshman and sophomores last season. The
learning curve was hard to adjust to, as we wait to see if the adjustments
can be made for some sophomores next year. The Bison had anything but a
successful season. Coach Scott Sanderson was signed to a contract extension
last year, and brought in two solid recruits in Craig Schoen, and James
Poindexter to battle out for the point guard slot. 8-20 is not what Lipscomb
had envisioned in 2003. Schoen, Poindexter, and Jeff Dancy (their best
athlete) are all returning next season. Lipscomb unfortunately will be
losing its senior leader, and scoring leader in Ryan Roller who averaged
13.1 points a game last season. Roller was named to the All-Independent
second team. 6’10” SR. center Albert Hacker needs to throw his body around
and be a double-double threat. Hacker started 18 games, averaged only 7.4
points, and pulled down just under five rebounds per game, something he
should improve on in his Senior season. The bench should be improved this
season with Cameron Robinson, and. Charlie Jenney, a 220-pound freshman
center who return for their sophomore seasons ready to provide adequate
support.

Like all Independents, the Bison’s schedule as rugged. Kansas State, and
Pepperdine tuned up against the Bisons at home before Christmas, then it was
on to Nebraska where Lipscomb was handed a modest ten-point Husker defeat.
The schedules stay the same; it’s the execution that needs to excel. The
Bisons are geared up at the guard position with Dancy returning at the SG
slot, and with Schoen, Poindexter, and G/F Chad Hartman returning for his
Senior Season. With most of the Bison starters back next season, and
hopefully a steady point guard, and bench, a double digit win total may not
be out of the question.

Key returning players:
Chad Hartman – G SR
James Poindexter – G SO
Craig Schoen – G SO
Jeff Dancy – G JR
Albert Hacker – C SR

Savannah State

Rumors are starting to swirl that the transition to Division-1 will soon
have similar effects on SSU, as it had on Morris Brown. SSU finished the
season with a dismal 3-24 record, and is 6-47 combined in the last two
seasons. To cap it off, the Tigers have aren’t in double figures in wins
over the last three seasons (9-71). The school formerly known as Georgia
State, they were officially accepted to D-1 on September 1, 2002. Even with
the impressive playing resume of Head Coach Edward Daniels Jr., who played
at Indiana for two years, before transferring to Marquette (runners up in
73-74), SSU is still radically behind pace. Two of the three Tiger victories
have come over Independent teams, a 67-58 over a now defunct Morris Brown
team, and a 10 point win over Lipscomb. Of course the season came to an
immediate struggle as SSU opened against Florida State, and two games later
would face the Hurricanes of Miami. The good news is the Tigers are only
losing one player to graduation, or eligibility, as they will return 4/5 of
their starting line-up in 2003-04. Two of their three top scorers were
freshman in Jamal Daniels, and Sherard Redick. SSU did not have a senior on
their roster; experience was lacking and now can play into Daniel’s hands as
they try to keep their focus on Athletics, and off rumored fiscal
difficulties.

Key returning players:
Jamal Daniels – G SO
Sherard Redick – F SO
Christopher Daniel – G SR
Donald Carson – F JR
Brian Boatwright – F JR

     

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