Preview: Novak Adds Height To Roster

ANDERSON, S.C. -- At the end of the 2004-05 season, Anderson College head men’s basketball coach Doug Novak cited two immediate needs – shooters and size. So, Novak went to the work on the recruiting trail. The result of his work is a recruiting class of seven newcomers that includes three players who are 6-foot-7 or taller – 6-8 Kris Fudzinskas, 6-8 Dusan Veselinovic, and 6-7 Aurimas Silys. “The best thing about this group is flexibility,” said Novak, who is entering his seventh season at AC. “For example, Armis is one of the better ball handlers and shooters we have. He also is one of the best post-up guys. He is going to be a tough match up for anybody in the league. Dusan is our best 3-point shooter. He’s 6-8 and very skilled, but he still can post up a smaller guy or one of equal size. A lot of those guys are interchangeable.” The Trojans finished last season 10-18 overall and 7-13 in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference. Six of Anderson’s losses were by five points or less, and AC’s scoring margin for the season was minus 4.4 points. “We’ve hit a couple of bumps that haven’t been enjoyable, but I look back and ask did those guys do the best they could with what they had and a majority of the time, I can say yes,” Novak said. “A majority of the time, I can say I did the best I could with what I knew at that particular time. You can be distracted by just the wins and losses, but I sleep better when we win. That’s what we go out there to do, but we want to win the right way and play the right way. “Hopefully, this team will allow me to sleep well at night. We will keep the right perspective and keep coming at it.” Novak expects his three veteran guards – Alfred Boykin (6-1, Sr., 8.7 ppg), J.R. Howell (6-1, Jr., 4.8 ppg) and John LeSueur (6-2, Jr., 7.9 ppg) – to benefit from the size and flexibility of the newcomers. “We lost a couple of ball handlers at the beginning of the year and that put some stress on some spot-up shooters having to bring up the ball,” Novak said. “They wouldn’t want to do it again but it helped them out. By the end of the year, they weren’t turning the ball over. “The new blood in the program will take some pressure off of them and allow them to do what they do best -- ball handling and shooting. The guys who can get into the paint off the dribble need someone who can spot up.” LeSueur came off the bench last season to lead the Trojans in 3-point shooting. He made 49 of 113 (.434) from behind the arc. “We were one of the poorest shooting teams in the league, but John really came on and helped us with his shooting,” Novak said. Novak expects to get ball handling help from O’Tey Sellers (Fr., 6-1). “O’Tey is strong,” he said. “He’s built like a senior. We need to continue to develop his approach to the game to go with his body.” Inside, the Trojans have to replace Osvaldo Haynes, who was one of the nation’s top rebounders last season at 10.9 rebounds per game. Randy Javois (Sr., 6-6) , Anderson’s leading returning scorer (10.4 ppg) and rebounder (5.1), will get some help inside from Fudzinskas. “Kris at center will help deal with the loss of Osvaldo, who had a great desire to get the ball,” Novak said. “Kris is big and long and plays big. Hopefully, we can rebound it as good as we did last year, but hopefully, we won’t have to rebound it as much. I hope there won’t be as many missed shots. The ability to shoot outside is definitely going to open up inside game. You will have to guard us. “Last year, we were more of a two post and had to grind it. This year, we will have four interchangeable perimeters with each one of those guys – Kris and Randy -- being able to post on one of the blocks. There won’t just be two guys on those spots. Posting a guard will be a huge emphasis along with getting the ball into our center and playing off of him. Kris is a scorer, but also can pass the ball out.” Another area where Novak expects to see some improvement is free throw shooting where the Trojans shot just .609 last season. The Trojans attempted 18 more free throws than the opposition but made 37 fewer shots from the line. “We had to be among the worst in the country, and in the last two minutes, we probably shot worse than 60 percent,” he said. “I hope our shooting and shooting under pressure will be better. I’ve coached a team before and we never shot free throws and led the conference. I’ve coached a team like last year when we shot free throws all the time and it just kept getting worse and worse. “In preseason workouts, we saw guys have streaks of 30 or 40 in a row from the line. That’s something we haven’t seen in awhile. That’s very exciting.” Novak also expects his team’s increased size to pay dividends on the defensive end. “Defensively, we’ve got size and length and guard quickness,” he said. “I think those factors will improve our ability to get a loose ball and make a difference getting a defensive stop and turning it into offense. We have some size underneath. We need to get some deflections and steals and convert as quickly as possible.” With the increase in talent, Novak is working even harder to emphasize playing as a team. “It’s good to have a guy who can get his own shot when he wants when things break down, but when you try to play that way for 40 minutes, real good teams stop you,” he said. “Everybody has been the star of their team. They understand they all can score, but they have to do it together. But there will be nights when there is a particular match up that we’re going to keep going to until they stop us.”
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