MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2005
Countdown to Tipoff - Five Days
Nov. 13, 2005
Part one of the five part series previewing the upcoming JU season. Today is a general outlook on the season. - A new chapter in the history of JU basketball begins as Cliff Warren takes over as head coach of the Dolphins, replacing the legendary Hugh Durham.
Selected as the 15th head coach in school history, Warren brings years of experience turning programs around and leading them to the NCAA Tournament. As an assistant at Mount St. Mary's, Siena and Georgia Tech, he helped each program advance to the NCAAs, including the national title game with Georgia Tech.
Now Warren takes over a program which has been in the national title game, but is searching for a much-needed boost to return to prominence. The basketball program and the school have received more exposure since Warren's addition and there's a buzz about the town about for upcoming season.
"I was excited about taking this job because President Romesburg and Alan Verlander (JU athletics director) have a vision for the men's basketball program," Warren said. "They want the program to be bigger than it ever was. It starts from the top and trickles down and their enthusiasm and passion is contagious."
Last year, the Dolphins finished 16-13 and won their first game in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament since joining the league in 1998, after finishing in a tie for fourth at 11-9. It marked the first time in three seasons that JU finished with a winning record.
The team that Warren inherits is not without talent or experience. The Dolphins have five seniors, four of which saw extensive playing time last season, and are projected to push for a spot in the starting lineup this season.
Experience is not all that Warren at his disposal. He also has a lot of youth, with seven freshmen on the roster.
"When I took the job, I was happy because of the veteran players we have returning," Warren said. "I really like their attitude, because these kids want to improve. They want to better themselves and make each other better as well."
Having improvement on the floor is only part of Warren's plan with the program. He also wants to see improvement off the floor as well, with players succeeding in the classroom and getting their degree.
"I also want our young men to work hard in the classroom," Warren said. "The players will enjoy their college experience, on the court, in the classroom and in the community."
While there is a new leader of the program, the goal for the Dolphins is still the same - win the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament and make the NCAA Tournament.
"Of course, we want to get to the NCAA Tournament," Warren said. "But the only way for us to get there is to win the Atlantic Sun championship. So as long as we focus on the first goal, the bigger things will take care of themselves."
2005-06 MEN'S BASKETBALL