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Lions basketball 2009-2010 season preview

By Caleb Slinkard
On October 30, 2009

Women's Basketball

2009 will be a year of change for the Lion's women's basketball team. Without star Britney Jordan and with new coach Nicole Anderson at the helm, the Lions' season will certainly be a growing experience for the team. That being said, coach Anderson isn't making any excuses. "We're trying to produce a product that is nationally ranked," she said. "Getting there is not an overnight process. It's going to take time, proper recruiting and having the right people in place." While playing without star Britney Jordan will certainly change the Lions' playing style, that is not necessarily a bad thing from Anderson's perspective. "We're going to play a team-style basketball, so we won't rely on one player to do all of our scoring," she said. "If that happens, great, but the goal is that we all are going to contribute. I think that adds to the excitement. It also provides balance. I'm not a believer that you can win a championship with just one player." That being said, Anderson recognizes what an asset Jordan was to the Lions. "Britney Jordan was a tremendous player for this program and gave so much to women's basketball in general," Anderson said. "The things she did for the program and the ladies currently on the team is something to be commended." Anderson's style of play revolves around a tough defense that dictates the opposing offense's play. "Our bread and butter will always be our defense," she said. "Shooting is fickle. The one thing you can control all the time is your effort and energy on the court." While Anderson is confident this is not a rebuilding year for the Lions, she knows the team is still learning some of the fundamentals of the game. "We're here, we're learning, but I wouldn't say that we're in a rebuilding year at all," Anderson said. "I would say it will be a different year than we've had in the past." For the Lions to be successful, Anderson knows they can not peak too early in the season. "I don't expect us to be great right now," she said. "I expect us to be very good come January and February. We don't want to peak too early, so that when the tournament comes around, we're moving up and moving up that hill that we're definitely going to have to climb, but in the right direction." The women's basketball team's season begins on Nov. 20 against Drury University.

Men's Basketball

The A&M-Commerce men's basketball team lost some key players as well in the offseason. Leading scorer Deundrae Spraggins and leading rebounder Rashad Brown are both no longer with the team, losses that head coach Sam Walker will need to replace quickly if the Lions hope to repeat their second place finish in the Lone Star Conference North Division. "I don't think our goal is ever not to win the conference championship," Walker said. "But we're talking about what we can do every week to get better. I have high expectations for this group because of the guys we're returning. Brad Hambrick was LSC North Division freshman of the year, Cardell Hunter led the conference in assists, and Sammy Jackson and Ronnie Morgan are both players that started the majority of the games last season." One of the key players that will help the Lions overcome the loss of Spraggins and Brown is senior transfer Justin Wilkerson. Last season Wilkerson averaged 11.2 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game for East Central University and he was named the LSC North Division preseason player of the year for the 2009-10 season. "As far as new players go, Brian Singleton and Wilkerson are two transfers that will impact the team," Walker said. "Preston Whitley and Andrew Davis are two freshman that have the best opportunity to get playing time." A&M-Commerce will definitely play a different style of basketball than in recent seasons. "I don't think that this team is a team that has a star, and we've had the leading scorer in the conference the last two years," Walker said. "We have three or four guys that have a chance to be our leading scorer depending on the night, and only because they're phenomenal team players. Cardell Hunter, Jackson and Hambrick all have the ability to score the basketball, but they care more about wins than statistics." Walker said he was pleased of his team's finish last season, a result he hopes to replicate this season. "I was very proud of our achievements last year, and I hope we have the same kind of achievements this year," he said. "I'd like to see us go a little deeper in the playoffs, but I would take last year's season any season as a level of achievement." Walker is entering his 10th season as the head coach of the Lions, making him the longest currently tenured coach at A&M-Commerce. "The longer I do this, the more I find out how young and green I was when I thought I knew what I was doing, and I try to convey that to our players," he said. "If you work hard every day, you tend to mature. I'm still in that maturation process, and I don't think you ever leave that process." The Lions play an exhibition game against Texas A&M University in College Station on Nov. 5th and begin the regular season on Nov. 15th.

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