BANNER ELK, NC--With ten freshman on a sixteen man roster, Head Coach Scott Polsgrove opens his second season at the helm of the Lees-McRae College Bobcats basketball program with an inexperienced squad, something that hasn't seemed to phase the fifteen year veteran. Five returnees from last season's 6-22 squad will wear green and gold this season, while one transfer rounds out the 2007-08 edition of Bobcats basketball.
"We're much more athletic and skilled than last season, however our youth and inexperience will certainly play a factor and is something that we're going to have to overcome this year," stated Polsgrove. "We've got a great group of guys in our locker room, and we're basically starting over with the amount of youth we have. It's a brand new team."
Polsgrove will lean on seniors Mario McClunie (Knoxville, TN) and Blake Carr (Seymour, TN) for leadership this season. The pair have played together since they were freshman, both coming to the Bobcats last season via Hiwassee Community College. McClunie will mentor a pair of freshman, Jesse Hoots (Yadkinville, NC) and Aaron Woodacre (Johnson City, TN), at the point guard position while a handful of freshman will look to join Carr on the wing.
Polsgrove and company have no reason not to be optimistic this season. In just his fifth game at the helm, Polsgrove guided the Bobcats to an upset win 86-77, over #19 Mount Olive College. Unfortunately, the Bobcats dropped their next three, facing off against eventual 2007 National Champion and fellow Conference Carolinas member Barton College who were ranked #12 at the time, as well as Division I opponents Virginia Military Institute and High Point University.
Southern New Hampshire junior transfer Modestas Riauka stands at 6'8" will provide some experience up front while returning sophomores Josh Kurtz (Oak Ridge, NC) and Stephen Haymer (Fort Bragg, NC) will be looked to play a more important role after successful freshman campaigns that saw each of them gain valuable experience playing in all 28 games. Haymer will be unavailable for the first few games after suffering a preseason injury, but should be returning to the court prior to Christmas.
"We have ten guys who will be experiencing collegiate basketball for the first time," said Polsgrove. "The returners are still snake bitten about the last second quarterfinal loss to Abbey in last year's tournament. Last season we were in many of our games, but had a tough time holding leads and lost a few heartbreakers," continued Polsgrove.
"Our practices are going well; we'll be a team that improves as the season progresses. We're looking forward to getting things rolling and excited about what we can accomplish this season."
The Bobcats will open the 2007-08 season with a home game against UNC-Pembroke on November 15th. In their only meeting last season, the Bobcats earned a 76-72 win at the Bobby Lutz Invitational. This year's tipoff against the Braves is scheduled for 7:00pm at Williams Gymnasium.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Head Coach Scott Polsgrove
PICTURED BELOW: Senior Mario McClunie (top), Senior Blake Carr (below)