WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2005
Countdown to Tipoff - Three Days
Nov. 13, 2005
Part three of the five-part series previewing the upcoming JU season. Today is a look at the JU front court. -
Jacksonville's front court features some experienced players to go along with a bumper crop of talent from Warren's first recruiting class.
"Antonio is the most focused player on the team," Warren said. "He sets an example of what I want everyone to be. He's married with a child and he realizes he's got a great opportunity to get an education and provide for his family. He's getting all that he can out of basketball and if he improves, he might be able to earn a living playing basketball."
The starting spot at power forward belongs to Mario Brown entering preseason practice. Brown, a 6-7 senior, was one of the top defensive players in the conference a year ago, racking up 53 blocked shots. Warren has worked with him in the preseason on becoming more of a force on the offensive end, where Brown averaged just 4.4 points, while hitting 60 percent of his shots from the floor.
In the middle will be Ljubisa Vrcelj, a 6-foot-11 junior, who has been a solid defensive force for the Dolphins over the past two years. With his big frame, Vrcelj alters shots with great regularity. The area Warren has worked with Vrcelj the most is on the offensive end, getting him to finish when he gets the ball in the low post.
"I hope we will surprise people this year with the improvement this group has made," Warren said. "What they lack in talent, they make up for in effort, and they give everything they have every time they step onto the floor. Being veterans, they have a lot of confidence in themselves, which is spreading throughout the team."
Allen, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Hollywood, Fla., will see a lot of playing time behind Brown in the power forward spot. Okonma, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., and standing tall with his 6-foot-8 frame, will see time at both power forward and center.
"We have some very talented freshmen who are going to vie for playing time immediately," Warren said. "They are going to push the veterans for their spot in the starting lineup and that competition should make us better."
Backing up Cool will be Bryan Hipsher, a 6-foot-4 junior from Akron, Ohio. Hipsher missed last season with an injury after sitting out the year before after transferring from Akron.
2005-06 MEN'S BASKETBALL