Men's Basketball Team Opens At Home Saturday

ANDERSON, S.C. -- Last season was a big step forward for the Anderson University men's basketball team. With a roster that featured seven freshmen, the Trojans were 12-16 overall and 10-10 in Conference Carolinas. Reaching the .500 mark in a difficult conference with a young roster has created higher expectations for the 2008-09 season. “We’ve taken a step to where hopefully we have some expectations,” said head coach Jason Taylor. “It has taken us two years to develop expectations inside and outside our locker room. I think we will define those expectations as the year goes along. We’re still learning how to win. We’ve got to learn how to win and handle winning. “If there’s a concern, it’s that most of our experience is sophomores. We don’t have a senior on the roster.” The Trojans are led by sophomore Brandon Young, who was an all-conference selection last season. Young led the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game and scored in double figures in 26 of 28 games. “In a perfect world, Brandon becomes our leader,” Taylor said. “He has to do that. The big thing for him improvement-wise is turnovers. He has to take care of the basketball. He has the ability to be a pass-first point guard and still score 15 points per game. That’s what I expect out of him. “He’s still learning how to pick his spots to get his own shot and when to get other players involved. He’s got a lot of learning and growing to do.” The leading returning rebounder is sophomore Stephen Cobb. Cobb was third on the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game and averaged 6.1 boards per game. “Stephen is extremely versatile,” Taylor said. “He can step out and shoot the three. He’s still learning to put the ball on the floor. The biggest sign of improvement is on the defensive end. My expectations for him are really high. He has the ability to be a special player.” Taylor says the rest of the sophomore group also took major strides during the summer. “Jarret Johnson, Trey Britton, Quinton Baines, and Kevis Cornwell all have gotten better,” he said. “Before he leaves here Jarret might be known as the best athlete to ever wear the uniform. The things he can do vertically are extremely special. What sticks out for me are the effort plays. He is athletic and explosive, and he is one of our best defenders. “Kevis wants to do everything right. He’s probably the quickest player on our team. He’s really improved his shooting, which will enhance his ability to drive.” Taylor is also expecting major contributions from a solid group of juniors. Taylor calls them “a strong character group.” “Jonathan Mattox, Josh Beale, Stoney Hill, and Jamel Lowery all had good summers,” he said. “Nobody outworked Jonathan this summer. Josh got stronger and Stoney worked on his shot. Jamel can be a high-energy guy who can give us something on the defensive end and he has improved his ability to pass the ball.” Taylor has added two freshmen to the roster – 6-2 Nick Trull and 6-7 Taylor Shuggart. “We’ve continued to add athleticism,” he said. “We’ve added some shooting with Nick Trull and another interior presence in Taylor Shuggart. We knew both of them would be good. We still don’t know how quickly they’re going to productive, but we’ve been pleased with how they have progressed.” With the large influx of new talent last season, Anderson’s style of play started to evolve. If given the opportunity to run, the Trojans turned up the tempo. “We’re continuing to adapt to our talent,” Taylor said. “As a coach you have a system you want to run. The truth is I’m not going to turn down really good players. We’ll figure out how to coach them. We have consistent principles. You have to adapt that to the players you get. I think our talent level is improving. Our style of play will continue to evolve. “We want to attack the basket as much as possible. Last year, we felt like we were pretty good in the mid-range area. This year, we have to take the next step and be a penetrating team. We also want to develop more aggressiveness on the defensive end.”
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