Walk-ons toting heavy load for the Dolphins

Jan. 12, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - They play basketball for the love of the game and the chance to represent their school. They are the five walk-ons on the Jacksonville men's basketball team and they have all made big contributions to the Dolphins this season.

With the loss of Jesse Kimbrough in December, the Dolphins dropped down to seven scholarship players on the roster and the walk-ons have stepped up in his absence. Those five players will factor in the Dolphins next game at East Tennessee State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

"Since day one, all of the walk-ons have worked hard, if not harder than the scholarship guys," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "They have all played significant minutes and are playing more minutes now that Jesse has been out. They are ready to play more minutes because they have a lot of experience and go through everything our scholarship guys do.

"We treat them like our scholarship guys. They have to go to study hall, they have individual workouts and they have to practice. They are getting a lot of experience that they wouldn't get at many places."

The quintet of walk-ons is led by senior guard/forward Matt Kampfe. A wide receiver on the football team in the fall, Kampfe is in his third season with the basketball team and has played a large role this year.

His best game of the year came at Florida Atlantic, where he came off the bench and scored a career-high seven points in 22 minutes of action, including both overtime periods.

Another standout is Joseph Newman. A freshman guard, Newman has provided an offensive spark off the bench several times. He scored eight points to spark a JU run against South Florida and followed that up with eight more points against North Florida in the next game.

Joining that duo is freshman David Fine. The backup to Aubrey Conerly at the point guard position, Fine has filled in admirably to give Conerly a few minutes of rest in each game.

Fine's best game so far was at Georgia Southern where he scored seven points in 16 minutes of action.

The latest to join the group is Evan Jefferson. Jefferson sat out the fall semester to focus on academics but has been a big offensive spark for JU since his first appearance against Florida.

In his seven games since joining the team, Jefferson has scored in double figures twice and has hit 10-of-15 from behind the 3-point line, with two or more 3-pointers in a game four times.

Last, but not least, is Michael DiBenedetto. Sitting out this season as a redshirt, DiBenedetto gives the Dolphins an extra body in practice and fights hard to help the starters get better.

JU at East Tennessee State

When: Saturday, Jan. 12 (4 p.m.)

Where: Memorial Center

Records: JU (1-12, 1-5 A-Sun), ETSU (6-6, 3-2 A-Sun)

Series: Jacksonville leads 2-0

Radio: Live on ESPN 1460. Pregame show airs at 3:45 p.m.

TV: None

Web: Live audio on at 3:45 p.m.

Storylines: Jacksonville looks to snap its 10-game losing streak. The Dolphins face both teams for the first time as conference rivals.

JU Noteables: The Dolphins 10-game losing streak is tied for the second longest in school history. JU held a lead at the half for just the third time this season against Belmont. Antonio Cool has scored in double figures in eight straight games with his 18 points on Monday. Cool hit 7-of-14 from the floor, marking the fourth time in the last six games he has hit 50 percent or more of his shots from the floor. Marcus Allen scored a career-high 16 points against Belmont, pulling down a team-high six rebounds. He has led JU in rebounding in seven times, including the last three games. Aubrey Conerly scored 12 points and dished out 11 assists for his third career double-double.

ETSU Noteables: The Bucs matched the largest point total by a Campbell opponent ever in a half with 65 in the first half. Senior guard Tim Smith nearly posted the league's first triple-double of the season with 37 points, nine assists and a career-high eight steals at Campbell. ETSU has won four straight games since surviving the worst start for the program since the 1957-58 season.