Basketball teams look forward to conference play
RELEASED: Dec. 15, 2005
DANVILLE, KYThe young 2005-6 season has already proven to be an exciting one for both the Centre College basketball teams. Expectations are high for the men as they return four starters and seek to improve on last year's second-place finish in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). The women, under the leadership of new head coach Wendie Austin-Robinson, have their sights set on the SCAC tournament after a pair of down seasons.
Last year the young and inexperienced men's team, picked to finish sixth in the SCAC, posted a surprising 20-7 overall record—the fourth-best record in Centre's history—to finish just a game out of first place in conference play.
Although this year the men have gotten off to an uneven 5-3 start, coach Greg Mason likes what he sees in his team. "We've had an opportunity to find out a great deal about our team by playing a tough early season schedule, with seven of the eight games being on the road. I've been pleased with our intensity thus far, and we'll need to continue that with tough early conference games coming up. I like this team and I really like our senior leadership—we have a good group of guys whom I have confidence in that we are going to continue to improve throughout this season."
Centre's men return four starters, led by leading scorer Reggie Magnusson, a senior from Reykjavik, Iceland, who averaged 12.7 points per game and was named honorable mention All-SCAC last year. Coy Zerhusen, another returning senior, is also an All-SCAC honorable mention. The forward from Georgetown, Ky. led the conference with 9.3 rebounds per game in 2004-05, in addition to averaging 10 points per game. SCAC Newcomer of the Year Matt Nestheide, a sophomore from Edgewood, Ky., who made second team All-SCAC, led the conference in three-point shooting and averaged 11.7 points and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman. Matt Jacobson, a junior from LaGrange, Ky., also returns, bringing experience, rebounding prowess and double-figure scoring average to the lineup.
Other key returnees include senior Adam Patterson of Louisville, junior John Patterson of Lexington, junior guard Kyle Christopher of Irvine, Ky. and sophomore guard Thomas Britt of Lousville, all of whom logged quality minutes on the floor last season.
Austin-Robinson takes over head coaching duties for the women after four years as an assistant. Aided by two new assistant coaches, Michelle Feistritzer and Jessica Chisley, the Centre alum and former two-time SCAC Player-of-the-Year will look to revive a program that won the SCAC and reached the NCAA Tournament only five years ago.
Says Austin: "Our girls are working very hard and we see improvement everyday, which is a positive sign. We'd like for our record [2-6] to be better but we've lost some close games to good teams. The girls are really trying to compete every time out and if we can keep working as hard as we are, we hope good things will happen for us."
Austin sees reasons for optimism in the team's play against Transylvania University on Dec. 6, an "awesome" victory in overtime. "We had come off of a tough loss to Sewanee and the girls had worked so hard but came up short, [so it was] great for them to get the next win vs. Transy—always a great rivalry."
Looking ahead, Austin says the team faces two more non-conference opponents and then all conference games. "Our conference is very tough, but we hope to keep improving every day and qualify for the conference tournament."
Four freshmen will join the returning three seniors and four sophomores. Chelsea Wessel, a senior from Evansvile, In., is the lone returning starter for the Colonels, but three others, including senior Mary Klee (Mayslick, Ky.) and sophomores Lauren Clontz (Mt. Vernon, Ky.) and Monica Vonderbrink (Danville, Ky.), also have starting experience.
"I want to compete with every team on the court and earn a place in the conference tournament," Wessell told the Cento student newspaper last week. "I want teams that play us to be intimidated by our hard work and effort."The men take on first-round opponent Emory & Henry in the Papa Johns/Country Hearth Inn Tournament, Thursday Dec. 29. The consolation and championship games take place Friday, Dec. 30 at 5 and 7 p.m., respectively. The women travel to Granville, Ohio on Sunday, Dec. 18 to face Denison, and will face Transylvania at home on Jan. 2.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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