WRHI Game Audio: 3:30p http://radio.securenetsystems.net/v5/WRHI (Chris Miller, Pierre Wooten on the call)
ROCK HILL, SC– The second season of the Pat Kelsey era begins today as the Winthrop men’s basketball team hosts Roanoke College in its season opener, Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Winthrop Coliseum.
Winthrop looks for its first winning season since 2009-10 when it finished 19-14 and captured its ninth Big South Conference title. Today marks the first meeting between Roanoke College and Winthrop. The Eagles have won 32 straight games against non-Division I opponents and are 78-8 all-time.
Offensively the Eagles struggled in 2012-13, but this year’s squad should play more to the style of Kelsey’s liking with the speed at the point guard position which should help create more scoring opportunities in transition.
Junior Andre Smith ran point most of last season due largely in part to the injury suffered by Brandon Vega in preseason. This season Smith could see time at the point but also move to the two guard spot showcasing his shooting ability even more. Smith knocked down a team-best 58 threes last season as he was 38 percent behind the arc. Vega and Smith are both being pushed by freshman Keon Johnson, who is listed in the probable starting five for Winthrop.
Despite returning all five starters, the starting lineup is sure to see some changes over the first few weeks as the players battle to solidify their roles.
Senior Joab Jerome leads the way for the Eagles this year after a junior season in which he averaged 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Following the loss of the team’s leading scorer Derrick Henry last year, Jerome stepped up and averaged 15.8 points over the final nine games. He has a streak of nine straight games in double-figures carrying over into today’s opener.
With Henry out and questionable to return this season, one of the starting spots is clearly open. Senior Christian Farmer was the top scoring threat off the bench last year and figures to be in that mix.
Returning in the post are juniors James Bourne and Larry Brown. Brown missed the final seven regular season games with a hand injury and was very limited in his action during the Big South Conference Tournament. Even though he missed seven games, Brown still led the team in rebounding, tied for blocks and was second in steals.
Bourne was an efficient scorer as he shot the 62 percent from the floor and averaged 5.9 points. The 6-8 forward was injured early in the opening round of the conference tournament and didn’t return, only adding to the list of key injuries to the team last year.
This year’s team already has injuries to key players, but Kelsey and his staff worked hard in the offseason to add plenty of depth to the roster.
With some of the injuries, fans should get a glimpse of freshmen Josh Davenport, Ivan Saicic and Jarad Scott as Kelsey feels all three have very good potential.
Fans will have to wait awhile before seeing redshirt junior Keon Moore as he’s recovering from a knee procedure and will be out 3-5 more weeks.
This will be the season opener for Roanoke College as well as it is coming off an 11-16 season and returns its top scorer Daniel Eacho. The junior forward averaged 12.4 points and 8.5 rebounds last year. He has ability to put up big numbers in a game as he posted 23 points and 22 rebounds against Bridgewater this past season. Junior forward Andrew Daniels also returns for the Maroons after averaging 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists last year.