With a daunting early season schedule and several new players, the Anderson University men’s basketball team will have its hands full as it enters the 2011-12 season tonight against Calvin in the season opener at O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.
“We have more incoming players than returning players, and the schedule isn’t friendly at the beginning,” said AU coach Tom Slyder. “We’re behind where we have been the last few years. We’re inexperienced in learning our system so we’re at a different starting point.”
The Ravens return three starters from last season’s 18-9 team that finished 12-4 and in second place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
[Photo: Anderson University senior Brock Morrison. Credit: Aaron Piper/The Herald Bulletin]
They are led by senior Brock Morrison, who has been 1st Team All-HCAC the last two years and needs just 147 points to reach the 1,000 mark for his career.
Also returning is senior Andrew Bowman, who has been All-HCAC the last two years and has averaged 11 points per game in his two-year career at AU.
Phil Hogan is the other returning starter, averaging 10.8 points per game in his sophomore season.
“Those three will anchor us, and Kurtis Runyon will arrive as a leader,” said Slyder. “My concern is our learning curve and how quickly we can learn our system against a difficult early schedule.”
While the Ravens may be a little green in depth, they have plenty of athletic ability behind their three veterans.
Runyon will be a sophomore, and 6-foot-8 Jake Browne has added some bulk inside. Add newcomers Justin Reed, Jason Riley, Nathan Gross, Ross Heitkamp, and Joel Elam, and Slyder has more depth than in recent years.
“We can play many different styles, and we have a rotation where we can play halfcourt or we can play 94 feet of pressure,” said Slyder. “We have been versatile in our top 4-5, but we have never been potentially as deep and played as many styles.”
The goals are still the same for Slyder, who has an 88-73 record in his first six seasons on the bench.
“We want to win conference, host the conference tournament, and get to the NCAA Tournament. Those are our goals,” he said. “We have to be able to defend and buy into our roles that each player has.”
— For The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.