FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University will officially kick off its 2010-11 men’s basketball season on Tuesday (Nov. 16) with its annual Riot at the Rim event as the Patriots entertain Allen University.
The contest will tip-off at 7 p.m. in the Smith University Center.
Allen is off to a 5-0 start, with three of the Yellowjacket wins coming by more than 25 points. FMU leads the all-time series 19-6, including a 93-53 win in Florence last year.
Fifth-year FMU men’s head coach Gary Edwards welcomes back six lettermen (three starters) from last season’s 18-10 squad – the second-highest win total in 17 seasons. Four transfers and a red-shirt freshman join the squad. Edwards has directed FMU to increased win totals each of the past four seasons (9, 12, 16, 18). Overall, Edwards is beginning his 27th season as a college head coach with 444 career coaching wins.
“We are anxious to start the season,” Edwards said. “We have five seniors beginning their final campaign, and that process starts on Tuesday. We have a tougher non-conference schedule this year and I hope that will prepare us for the Peach Belt (Conference) battles to come.
“I think we have the potential to improve our shooting from the backcourt this year, and with some big bodies, rebounding needs to be and could be another one of our strengths. To be successful, we must rebound well.
“We need to be a ‘less risk’ operation – meaning that we continue to force turnovers, but on the offensive end we take better care of the ball. That turnover ratio needs to improve. With that being said, defense is always another key. We need to be able to hold teams down in the 60s in scoring.”
Senior 6-6 swingman Simel Boyd (12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 52.5% FG), a pre-season honorable mention Sporting News All-American, heads the returnees. Boyd was a second-team All-PBC selection last season two years after being named the 2008 PBC Freshman of the Year. Also returning is 6-10 junior center Andrew Smith (6.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg), 6-8 senior forward David Turner (6.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg), 6-9 senior center Mindaugas Petreikis (2.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg), and 6-0 senior guard Bryant Julious (5.3 ppg, 1.9 apg) – who made eight starts last year.
Freshman 6-3 guard Evrik Gary (Camden High School); junior 6-2 guard Shawn Greenfield (Garrett College), a former NJCAA Pre-Season All-American; and 6-4 senior swingman Dominique Coleman (Univ. of West Alabama) head the newcomers.
Liki Turner is a 6-5 junior forward who transferred from Shepherd College in 2009, but sat out last season. In his last season of play, he averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Matt Todd, a 6-3 junior swing player from Aiken Technical College also joins the Patriot roster.
“Evrik and Dominique are the reasons I feel better about our perimeter shooting,” Edwards added. “Shawn will start at the point with Bryant also seeing action at that spot. Both continue to improve as the pre-season winds down.
“We are looking for a break-out year from Simel, who could be one of the most impactful players in the Peach Belt.
“Along with Simel, the group of Andrew, David, and Liki combined with Evrik and Dominique from the perimeter give us a solid rebounding group.”
The Patriots will host the annual Zaxby’s Tip-Off Classic on Friday and Saturday with FMU playing in the nightcap at 8 p.m. both nights. Francis Marion will play 15 home contests this year, and will participate in the OrthoCarolina Classic hosted by Wingate University on Nov. 26-27.
FMU opens Peach Belt Conference play on Dec. 1 at USC Aiken. The Patriots were picked to finish eighth in the PBC coaches’ annual pre-season poll.
FMU will be looking for a third consecutive winning campaign, something not accomplished since the early 1990s.