Preview: Trojans Add Size, Offensive Firepower

ANDERSON, S.C. -- When Anderson College head coach Doug Novak hit the recruiting trail, he went looking for size and he got it. Novak, entering his sixth season at Anderson, has added four players who are 6-foot-6 or taller. “Size can be overrated,” Novak said. “We were small last year, but we had some guys who played big. There are teams that are big who play small. Hopefully, we’ve increased our size and we’ll play big.” Anderson opens the 2004-05 season at home against Mars Hill on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Trojans were 13-15 overall and 9-11 in the CVAC last season. Three of their losses were by three points or less. Most of Anderson’s games were nip and tuck. The opposition averaged 70.5 points per game, while Anderson averaged 69.9 points per game. The highlight of the season was a 99-97 double-overtime victory over Queens (N.C.) at home on the final day of the regular season. Novak says along with size that the newcomers bring some offensive firepower. “This is the most offensive weapons we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said. “Our offense will be a lot more specialized than it ever has been. We’ve got four players who are four good mid-range players. They can put it on the floor and get to the rim, and they can knock down 15 footers and pull-up jump shots. Those kind of guys are hard to find.” The top returnee is sophomore forward Chris Poore (6-4, 210, Greeneville, Tenn.), who was second on the team in scoring last season at 13.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Poore scored in double figures in Anderson’s final eight games and scored 19 or more points three of the last four games. “I think Chris is one of the top guys in the conference,” Novak said. “He can produce inside and outside. He also will be our back up point guard. Hopefully, his toughness will bleed into the rest of our team. He is one tough individual. He’s always ready to go.” The key to Anderson’s motion offense is senior forward Osvaldo Haynes (6-7, 215, Greenwood, S.C.), who set the school single-season record for blocked shots last season with 56. “Osvaldo has improved his shooting and he’s got a couple of new weapons down low,” Novak said. “He’s really developed. He will be able to knock that down that 15-footer this season. Defensively, I’m not sure there’s a position on the floor he can’t guard.” Novak had three returning guards – sophomores J.R. Howell (6-1, 185, Clemson, S.C.), and John LeSueur (6-2, 185, Blountville, Tenn.), and junior Alfred Boykin (6-1, 195, Fayetteville, Ga.) – who can “stretch defense” and he’s hoping the Trojans can cash in more at the free throw line this season. Anderson shot just 66 percent from the line last season. “We have to be able to make free throws,” Novak said. “We did a poor job last year and had some shooters at the line. We’ll get to the line more. One of our goals is the lead the league in free throw attempts and our percentage has to be up there. “In our offense, we’ll have more penetration. We have three or four players who are good enough to play for anybody in the league. We’ll open it up some.” Three of the newcomers – Odin Palacio (6-6, 200, Panama City, Panama), Ronald Bowers (6-7, 215, Nashville, Tenn.), and Randy Javois (6-6, 325, Anguilla, W. Indies) – all are transfers from community colleges. “Every junior college player we’ve recruited I’ve known them in the past and I’ve known them before they’ve gone to junior college,” Novak said. “Odin has won everywhere he’s been. He led Highland Community College to the national tournament. Every team he’s on seems to win, so I want him on our team. He’s very talented inside and outside, and he’s one of the best passers I’ve ever been around. There are three passers on this team who are as good as anybody I’ve ever coached – Odin, Ronald, and Drew Keenan (6-3, 180, Easley, S.C.). They’re fun to play with because if you’re open, they’re going to get you the ball.” With his large frame, Javois will give the Trojans some size and power in the paint. “Randy is a pure post,” Novak said. “He’s a back-to-the-basket guy. He’s a weapon. We haven’t had a whole lot of specialization. Randy led his junior college league in scoring and rebounding. He’s a gifted athlete. He can move and get off the floor. He needs to work on utilizing his body. He’s learning more technique. He does give great effort.” Novak’s biggest concern is on the defensive end where he says the chemistry is still developing. “You need chemistry and toughness if you’re going to win games,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to play team defense. There is such a thing as a selfish defensive player. You can stop your man, but if another guy scores and you didn’t provide help that’s selfish. But if you can pass, that means you have vision, and if you have vision, you can play team defense.” Novak believes he’s got the players to be one of the best teams in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference, one of the toughest Division II leagues in the country. “We’ve taken another step to be able to compete with the top teams,” he said. “Last year, we were always right there. This team really does have the potential to be one of the top teams but, at the moment, it’s just potential.”
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