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New look Blazers start season with three returners

  The South Region’s best men’s basketball team from last season will hit the court Friday night for the start of a new basketball era at VSU.
The new look VSU Blazers will open up their quest for prominence when they welcome Saint Leo to the VSU Complex.

 “I don’t think you ever change your goals,” Mike Helfer, head basketball coach, said. “Your goals have to stay the same. The process might be a little different or how you get there, the road less traveled.  We’re not going to change our goals. We expect to be good. We have to do the things on a daily basis to make sure that happens.”
The Blazers, who failed to break the top 25 rankings to begin the season, welcomes the Rollins College Tars on Saturday night.

 Last season, VSU knocked off Rollins in the South Region championship, which earned the Blazers a trip to the NCAA Division II Elite 8.

 Although VSU returns just three players—Christian Hunter, Billy McShepard and Kevin Harris— from last season’s team, the matchup on Saturday night will be the marquee matchup of the Gulf South/Sunshine Crossover, which is being hosted by VSU this weekend as Rollins returns nearly every player from last season’s roster.

 “They’re such important games for all the teams that are here because they’ll have NCAA tournament implications,” Helfer said about the tournament. “We’re thankful to be playing at home. With so many new guys we’re not sure what’s going to happen opening night.”

 As for the new players that fill the VSU roster, guard Sidney Harris highlights the list of new players. Sidney is set to run the point guard position this season with Kevin running the shooting guard.

 Senior Christian Hunter, who is the longest tenured Blazer on the team, is set to play at both guard and small forward this season.

 “We’ve come in with same goals,” Hunter said about the upcoming season. “Not much has changed outside of the names and faces. We come in with the same goals and take it one game at time.  Last year doesn’t happen overnight, so we have to take it one practice, one game at a time. Hopefully we’ll find ourselves in the same situation at the end of the year.”

 On Sunday, Helfer said he has been pleased with his team’s progress throughout training camp, although injuries have plagued the progression of the team.

 “I think players in general have high expectations because they have to be confident to play at this level,” Helfer said. “I’m a realist. We have to work to do chemistry-wise and bringing in new guys. Our talent level is at a level that will allow us to be successful if we all play together.”

 Both games this weekend begin at 8 p.m., with the game on Saturday night following the season-opener for the Lady Blazers. Read about the Blazers and Lady Blazers all season online at www.vsuspectator.com.

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