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Hatters pin hoops hopes on starters

Simone Taylor

Simone Taylor takes a shot for the Hatters.

Women’s basketball

After wildly successful seasons in 2010-11 and again in 2011-12, the Stetson women’s basketball team is ready to do it again. The Hatters return their entire starting line-up from last year, as well as virtually the entire bench to give Stetson Head Coach Lynn Bria a roster chock-full of veteran experience. Add to that mix a senior transfer plus a trio of talented freshmen, and the Hatters have potentially their deepest squad in program history.

“We have a lot of returning players, and that makes it easier as a coach,” Bria said. “The three freshmen have fit right in and adapted well. I feel really good. They have all worked hard over the summer. It’s exciting to see.”

Five seniors will help lead the way, including starting point guard Victoria McGowan who averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.6 steals per game in 2011-12 and was the only Division I player in the nation to record three triple-doubles.

Two returning starters joining McGowan in the backcourt are senior Shanasa Sanders and sophomore C.J. Coddington. Sanders ranked 12th in the league in scoring (11.8 ppg) and hit 47 three-pointers. Coddington averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game, while ranking second on the Hatters with 45 steals.

Junior Sasha Sims and sophomore Cherisse Burris will help anchor the Hatters frontcourt. Sims averaged 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, while Burris averaged 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Hatters face a difficult non-conference schedule that includes four games against teams that played in the postseason last year.

“It is the toughest schedule we have had since I have been here,” Coach Bria said. “But we have five seniors so we should have a hard schedule. We need to be prepared for our conference season and for postseason play.”

Next up for the women’s basketball team is Georgia Southern Dec. 18, and UNC Asheville Dec. 19. Both games are at 1 p.m. at the Edmunds Center.

Men’s basketball

The Stetson men’s basketball team saw many improvements in Head Coach Casey Alexander’s first season and returns all five starters for the upcoming 2012-13 campaign. With a wealth of veteran leadership and a year under the new coaching staff’s belt, the Hatters are in good shape as the start of the season looms.

The 2011-12 Hatters improved their scoring output by 7.9 points, their shooting percentage by 14 percentage points, and their three-point shooting by a staggering 46 percentage points (.343) from the previous season. Stetson also made improvements in free throw percentage (.620 to .695), assists per game (9.5 to 15), and rebounds (33.1 to 36.5).

Led statistically by senior Adam Pegg, the Hatters will lean on the leadership of eight upperclassmen in 2012-13. Pegg led the Hatters with 14.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Seniors Joel Naburgs and Liam McInerney give Stetson a pair of starters from Australia who have been in DeLand since their freshman years. Naburgs is a guard who averaged 9.2 points and led the team with 2.6 assists per game in 2011-12, while McInerney continued to do a little bit of everything for the Hatters in 2011-12, finishing in the top six on the team in almost every statistical category.

Chris Perez and Aaron Graham, both starters as sophomores a year ago, will look to help lead the team as upperclassmen this season. Perez was second on the team in scoring last year, averaging 13.5 per tilt, and added 4.5 rebounds per game from the guard position. Graham can light it up from deep, knocking down 68 three-pointers as a sophomore.

Competitive in-state contests, including Miami and UCF, and at home against USF, as well as a couple of Virginia road trips to Richmond and VCU, highlight Stetson’s non-conference slate.

Next up, the men’s basketball team travels to Boca Raton to meet Florida Atlantic, Dec. 18, and will be at UCF in Orlando on Dec. 20. Both games are at 7 p.m.

This complete article can be read in SU Magazine online.  To see the Hatters basketball schedule, visit GoHatters.com.