MONDAY, NOVEMBER 09, 2009
One week to Tipoff - Season Outlook
Last season, the JU men’s basketball team did what no other team has done in the past four seasons – win the Atlantic Sun Conference title outright with an overtime win at Belmont on the last day of the regular season.
With four starters returning from last year’s championship team, the Dolphins are set to defend their title – earning the preseason nod from the preseason poll by the coaches and the media.
“We’re honored to be picked to win the league, but this is a new season and we can’t rest on what we did last year,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We’re no longer the hunter and the target is on our back now. I’ve stressed to our young men that we’ve got to get better each day if we want to repeat as champions.”
Warren’s fifth squad at JU might be his best.
The senior duo of Ben Smith and Lehmon Colbert already have amassed more than 1,000 points in their careers and look to lead the Dolphins back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986 after ending a 22-year postseason drought with a NIT berth last season.
Smith was named A-Sun Preseason “Player of the Year” while Colbert earned preseason all-conference honors.
Joining Smith and Colbert in returning is juniors Ayron Hardy and Travis Cohn. Cohn has stepped up his game after earning the starting 2-guard spot last season. Hardy is expected to take his game to a new level as well after being named A-Sun Defensive “Player of the Year” and earning preseason all-conference recognition.
The lone question mark in the starting lineup is who will replace Marcus Allen? Szymon Lukasiak, who stepped up late last season, as well as Will Alston and a cast of newcomers will vie for the post position.
And that may be where this team’s biggest strength lays – its depth.
For the first time since coming to JU, Warren will have 13 players who each bring something different and special to the team – giving him the versatility to mix things up and create favorable matchups.
2009-10 MEN'S BASKETBALL