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2011-12 Blue Ribbon Preview - Lipscomb
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2011-12 Blue Ribbon Preview - Lipscomb
Team preview: Lipscomb
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Lipscomb Bisons
Last Season 17-13 (.567)
Conference Record 12-8 (4th)
Starters Lost/Returning 3/2
Coach Scott Sanderson (South Carolina '84)
Record At School 197-165 (7 years)
Career Record 281-190 (12 years)
RPI Last 5 years 179-223-236-203-133

Scott Sanderson readily admits his team's summer trip to the Dominican Republic is one of the most important basketball jaunts he's ever taken.

College basketball teams are allowed to travel out of the country during the summer on an exhibition trip once every four years. Sanderson held off going anywhere last year because he had a senior-laden, experienced team. He figured the trip would be much more beneficial this offseason, when he would have a roster loaded with newcomers.

Sanderson, son of legendary former coach Wimp Sanderson, believes the visit to the Dominican Republic worked out perfectly.

"It's huge," Sanderson said. "We have eight brand new guys. We got to have 10 practice days and four games over there. It was very valuable to us. We got 16-18 days together. For one, we got to put in a new system, and two, we got to learn each other and understand our strengths and weaknesses.

"Sometimes you think you know what you have in recruiting, but now we know going into individual workouts exactly who can do what. We have a good feel on what to redefine and work on."


All eight newcomers enrolled in summer school and were able to go on the trip. It was absolutely critical for the Bisons, who lost two of the best players in the history of the program to graduation. Center Adnan Hodzic was a former Atlantic Sun Player of the Year who averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Guard Josh Slater averaged 16.5 points (fourth in the A-Sun), 6.1 rebounds (11th in the A-Sun) and 4.6 assists (third in the A-Sun). No other player in the league could boast of ranking in the top 11 in all three of those categories.

"They put an imprint on our program," Sanderson said. "They were very good players and more than that good people, good representatives of the university on and off the floor. They're both excellent role models. They're both over in Germany playing professionally now. They got what they deserved.

"You can't replace those two guys. You have to do it by committee. Several guys have to step up. As good as they were, people knew exactly what we were doing offensively. We were easy to scout. This year's team I expect to see four or five guys average 10-12 points per game. We'll have more guys scoring than two guys scoring 18-20 a game. We'll be harder to scout because we'll have more balance."

The leading returning scorer is 6-3 senior wing Jordan Burgason (10.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg). He's a three-point marksman who led Lipscomb with 84 threes last season. He led the A-Sun in threes per game, and he shot .418 from long distance to rank fifth in the conference.

"He's one of the best shooters in the country," Sanderson said. "Flat out, he's one of the best shooters I've ever coached.

"He got a lot of shots because of Adnan. This year will be different because we won't rely on the post like we did. Our team speed is about as good as it's ever been. Jordan will benefit from that. He understands how to get open, how to get his shot. I don't foresee that to be any different."

Lipscomb's other returning starter is 6-4 junior guard Jacob Arnett (3.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.9 rpg). He made 22 starts and appeared in all 30 games.

"Jacob was just a guy who understood where I wanted the ball to go," Sanderson said. "He's a low-mistake guy. He understood how I wanted him to play and knew what to do to make us successful. His role will change this year. He's a fourth-year junior and he needs to step up from a leadership standpoint."

The leading returning rebounder and heir apparent to Hodzic is 6-8 senior center Justin Glenn (2.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg). Despite Glenn's modest statistics of a year ago, Sanderson believes he could be a surprise.

"They'll say, 'I had no idea he could do this,' but he just didn't get many opportunities behind Adnan. He gives us a shot-blocking presence, he can finish at the basket, and he has a nice midrange pull-up. He knows how to play. People don't know a whole lot about him because his stats aren't very good, but he'll have a major jump for us."

The only other returning player is 6-3 sophomore guard Robert Boyd (5.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.2 apg), who had a solid first season. He cracked the starting lineup 12 times and proved to be a solid defender.

"Robert was one of most consistent players on trip," Sanderson said. "He's a high-energy guy and a great defender.

"All of the returners he will give us leadership and experience."

Because Sanderson got to see his recruiting class in extended action, expect to see a number of first-year players find significant minutes, and perhaps as many as three could start. It's a class long on athleticism, and because the coach believes nearly everyone can help, he intends to play at a different speed than the Bisons have in recent years.

"Absolutely we're going to have a different style of play," Sanderson said. "We pressed a lot and played full court a few years ago. But you get a guy like Adnan, and you'd be a fool not to get him 15-18 touches [a game]. We got 80 percent of our hoops in the half court.

"Now when we went on the trip, we pressed more, played more transition. We have the athletes to do that. We'll be completely different in how we play. You've gotta adjust to your personnel. We knew we would not have Adnan, but our team speed and quickness is very, very good."

Sanderson said 6-1 junior college transfer Deonte Alexander is a possibility for newcomer of the year in the A-Sun. Alexander is a two guard who led his East Mississippi Community College to the NJCAA national tournament the last two seasons.

"He averaged about 18 points per game and can really guard the basketball," Sanderson said. "He can guard better than I thought he could. We wouldn't have known that without the trip."

Last season Sanderson redshirted 6-4 forward Damarius Smith from nearby Clarksville because his roster was so deep. But he says the freshman is "the best athlete we've ever had in our program." Smith recently recorded a running vertical jump of 42 inches.

Another Clarksville product, 6-5, 225-pound true freshman Malcolm Smith, led the Bisons in scoring and rebounding on the trip to the Dominican. He's a threat to start from day one.

"Malcolm can score with his back to the basket or facing," Sanderson said. "He's an excellent rebounder, and he's already got a college body."

Martin Smith, Malcolm's 6-4 twin brother, also signed with Lipscomb.

"Martin is long, athletic, a very good defender, shoots it extremely well. He will be a good player for us."

Lipscomb's Clarksville pipeline doesn't end there. Freshman point guard Zavion Williams averaged 12 points on the trip and also proved to be an excellent defender.

"He can really guard the ball, and he's extremely quick north and south," Sanderson said. "He's a winner. He knows how to win, competes at a high level. He'll have an impact on our program."

The recruiting class also has two wide-bodied post players in 6-10, 290-pound Steven Hurt and 6-8, 270-pound Marvin Williams. Williams played in one of the state's top programs at Memphis White Station, and Hurt comes from right down the road (Murfreesboro Siegel High School). Williams is a good offensive rebounder and can also make face-up jumpers. Both players will need to work on conditioning, but Sanderson believes both will contribute minutes in the post.

Last but not least is another redshirt freshman, 6-1 two guard Carter Sanderson. He's the son of the coach and a solid perimeter shooter.



Sanderson has the same high hopes for this class that he had five years ago when he brought in Hodzic and Slater. But he'll be employing a different style with this group. He plans to press and go nine or 10 deep, with nearly all of those players averaging double-digit minutes.

"If we defend and rebound like we anticipate, we will surprise people just because of the magnitude of what we lost," Sanderson said. "When you lose impact guys like that, it's amazing what the other guys usually do because they've been in the shadow. We have seven or eight new guys who weren't there when they [Hodzic and Slater] were here. I'm looking forward to it.

"Seeing them on the Dominican trip was huge for us. We're obviously further along now than we would have been."
10-26-2011 06:35 PM
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