Having lost 68 percent of their offense since last season, the men’s basketball squad is looking for new talent to step up.
Despite losing so much scoring, the Blazers were still voted to finish second in the conference by the GSC coach’s rankings.
VSU returns just five players from last year’s squad—second leading scorer Tristan Steele, Sidney Harris, Josh Sparks, Will Alston, and Brandon Klunder.
“If they step up in a leadership role as well as a performance role, we won’t have much of a drop off from last year,” Head Coach Mike Helfer said.
Some of the other new players that Helfer believes will make an impact this season include guards Michael Panaggio and Jacquan Nobles along with forwards Chris Rozier and Oakland University transfer Drew Maynard.
“Drew is a proven player coming from Oakland University,” Helfer said. “At his size and position he will be a tough match-up for teams in our conference.”
With all the new talent added to the Blazer’s roster, chemistry between the new and longer tenured players is important to the success of the Blazers this year.
“What we try to do is recruit similar people and players and hope that they mix on their own and that’s what they have done,” Helfer said. “They spend as much time off the court as they do on the court.”
The VSU Lady Blazers are very eager to return to the hardwood to avenge last season’s tough loss against Delta State in semifinals of the GSC Tournament.
Due to players lost from last year, the Blazers have revamped their way of playing and hope that this year’s team can improve from last year.
One aspect that does remain the same from last year is the return of their two top scorers from last year in GSC All-Conference First-Team selection Sczeny Hartry and second team All-Conference player Brittany Ferguson. Senior forward Courtney Mitchell will join them as a key post presence.
Hartry, who is considered to be one of the best players in the conference, was a pre-season selection for the GSC All-Conference Team; the only Blazer to be selected.
“My leadership this year will be very important considering that I’m one of the few returning players along with seniors Courtney Mitchell and Brittany,” said Hartry. “With the leadership from the seniors and newcomers to the team, I think this will probably be one of the better teams I’ve played on.”
The Lady Blazers also have an array of young talent that is expected to assist the senior leaders and have an immediate impact on the court.
“Maylissa Johnson, a transfer from Cowley County Community College, can make an immediate impact, along with freshmen Kourtnee Williams and Brooke Satterfield will get a chance to play some quality minutes,” Head Coach Kiley Hill said. “Those kids have really made some impact with us so far.”
Both teams have a number of talented players that are ready get on the court and bring the GSC Conference title along with a National Title.
With new and returning talent, both teams will look for success as they start their 2011-12 season next week.
The Blazers will host their home opener on Tuesday night starting with the women’s squad at 6 p.m.