FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 07, 2008
Countdown to Tipoff: 8 Days
For the first time since the 1980s, there is a buzz around the JU men’s basketball program.

Fans across the city are talking about JU’s appearance in the Atlantic Sun Conference title game last season, with hopes that this is the year that the Dolphins return to the postseason.

But, it wasn’t so long ago that the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be out. Just three years ago, the Dolphins won just one game during the season.

Since that dismal start to head coach Cliff Warren’s tenure, the Dolphins have been a rags-to-riches story – pulling off the largest turnaround in the country the next season by going 15-14 and finish third in the conference.

It’s taken a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifices to get to this point. Now, the Dolphins focus is breaking through and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1986.

“This is an exciting time of the year,” said Warren. “But our guys know the grueling schedule in front of them and what they have to do to succeed.”

Warren is fortunate to return all five starters from last year’s squad and nine of the top 10 scorers.

One of the starters is senior stalwart Marcus Allen, who enters the season just eight points shy from being the 24th member of JU’s 1,000-point club.

“Marcus is a veteran and knows what I expect out of him,” Warren said. “We are expecting him to be one of our leaders on and off the floor.”

The Dolphins tip off their season in eight days as they host Florida State at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.