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season openers

ECSU basketball set to tip off

Men’s and women’s teamsbe­gin sea­sons to­day

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John Hill (center) was the Lady Vikings’ interim head coach last season and will take over as the head coach for Elizabeth City State’s men’s basketball team this season.

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By Craig Moyer
Sports Writer

Friday, November 10, 2017

Elizabeth City State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will depend on new coaches and young rosters as they each begin their 2017-18 seasons looking to improve from last seasons struggles.

Both teams begin their seasons on the road today, as the men’s team faces UVA-Wise at 7 p.m. in the Earl Boyd Classic at West Virginia State in Institute, West Virginia.

The Vikings will then face tournament host West Virginia State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Lady Vikings travel to Charlotte, where they will face Gannon, out of Erie, Pennsylvania at 5 p.m as a part of the PSAC/​CIAA Challenge.

The team will continue the challenge on Saturday when they play Cheney University at 2 p.m.

ECSU men’s basketball head coach John Hill is set to begin his first season with the team after being an interim head coach for the women’s team last season.

Before coming to ECSU, Hill spent three season as the men’s basketball head coach at Lincoln (Pa.), where he led the Lions to a 53-30 overall record over three seasons.

Hill said it will take time for the young players on this season’s team to transition to the college game, but he feels good about their talent level entering the season.

“We expect there to be some bumps in the road early, but we are going to make sure they keep positive and continue to grow,” Hill said. “We have a group of outstanding young men and I think we will be much better come January.”

The men’s team has six freshmen on the roster, so Hill expects them to take some time to adjust to the difference from high school to college play, including a heightened physicality.

The first-year head coach said he is looking for strong performances from freshmen Zach Hobbs, Justin Faison and Marcus Wesley.

Freshmen Shykeef Daniels, Semaj McCowan and Orlando Robinson also join the Vikings this season.

The head coach said the best way for his young players to improve is to get as much in-game experience as possible early in the season.

Hill added despite his team’s inexperience, they are very smart and have a lot of talent, as he said this season’s team is more talented from top to bottom than last season.

The Vikings will need a scoring contribution from young players in order to replace their two leading scorers from last season, Elon Edwards and Jordan Jones.

John Maynor returns this season after being the Vikings’ third-leading scorer last season with 10.3 points per game as a freshman, which led to a spot on the CIAA rookie team.

Maynor is joined by senior forward Jermaine Brown, junior guard Shyheid Petteway and junior guard Brandon Roddy as they only four returning players from last year’s team.

The Lady Vikings basketball team will be led by head coach Antonio Davis, who is in set to begin his first season with ECSU, but has plenty of coaching experience.

Davis has 24 years of college basketball experience, including 14 years as a head coach.

Davis said he is hoping to change the mindset and the outlook on the team into a winning program.

“We have a good group this year, they have bought in to what we are trying to do,” Davis said. “Our goal is to improve each week and each month throughout the season.”

Like the men’s team, the Lady Vikings also have a very young team this season, as the team has four freshmen and three sophomores on their roster.

Freshmen Sashanelle Grey, Makayla Sutton, Quianna Boone-Fudge and Remi Simmons will all look to make in impact in their first season with the team.

The Lady Vikings will look to Jalyn Brown to be a leader on the young team, as the senior led the team last season with 10.7 points per game.

Davis said Brown has made his transition has a first year head coach much easier and often times older players do not buy in to new coaches’ systems, but that is not the case with Brown.

“Jalyn has bought in totally from day one and that has been really encouraging and has filtered down to the other players,” Davis said.

With such a young team, Davis said the team is anxious to get the season underway and add to their experience levels.

“We are just trying to get the team to mesh and we need to get on the court and play some games in order to get better,” Davis said.

Both teams are predicted to finish near the bottom of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association this season after struggling last season.

The men’s team finished last season 2-21 overall and 2-14 in conference play, while the Lady Vikings finished 5-20 overall and 3-13 in conference play.

The Lady Vikings are predicted to finish the upcoming season at the bottom of the Northern Division and 11th in the conference out of twelve teams, while the men’s team is predicted to finish at the bottom of the conference.

The teams both play their first home game of the season Tuesday, as the Lady Vikings host Apprentice School at 5:30 p.m. and the men’s team hosts Barton College at 7:30 p.m.

Both teams begin CIAA play on the road against Shaw Dec. 14, as the women’s team plays at 6 p.m. followed by the men’s game.

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