HPU gets into mix tonight
High Point University man’s basketball coach Scott Cherry mixes the old and the new in front of the public for the first time tonight.
The new blend makes its first showing when the Panthers take on Division III Bridgewater of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference at the Millis Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“It’s sort of a dress rehearsal, the first time they’ll be playing in a live game situation with officials and media time outs,” Cherry said. “And we’re going to make that the new guys learn what it’s all about.”
The old includes all five starters and two key reserves from a team that won the North division title in the Big South Conference and earned the program’s first postseason berth in the Division I era. The starers, who accounted for most of the points and rebounds last season, are headlined by sophomore center and Big South preseason player of the year John Brown, first-team All-Conference selection Allan Chaney at forward, wing Adam Weary and guards Derrell Edwards and Dejaun McGaughy.
The top reserves returning include wing Devante Wallace and Lorenzo Cugini. But the Panthers lost a good deal of their depth with the graduation of forwards Corey Law and Branimir Mikulic plus guard Jarius Sims, leaving Cherry the task of blending perhaps as many as four freshman into the mix.
The newcomers include 6-9 forward Cliff Cornish, who missed last season because of injury, plus East-West All-Star selection Tarique Thompson of Hoke County, point guard Jorge Perez-Lanham of Puerto Rico and guard Anthony Lindauer.
“I’m going to try to give everyone as minutes as I can,” Cherry said. “I’m going to giver the guys from last year plenty of time together to get them used to working together in a game environment again. I’ll try some different rotations and combinations depending on how we play defense “
The Panthers will try to mesh against a team that is picked to finish eighth in the ODAC despite returning all three of its double-figure scorers and top two rebounders from a squad that went 14-12.
Ed Reddick and Tavis Stapleton, both 6-4, made up the top two in both categories. Reddick averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while Stapleton had 11 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Ronnie Thomas, a 6-4 senior, is the other double-digit scorer back after averaging 10.7 points per game.
“We’ll be trying to improve on the things we’ve been talking about in practice — conversion defense, rebounding and turnovers,” Cherry said. “Those are the thing that we’ve been focusing on and we’ve had good days and bad days.
“They’re smaller and this a game where just looking on paper we would have an advantage but we’ve go to go out and play. We’re going to try to create turnovers with our pressure, make sure we get our shots to the rim and use our size to get offensive rebounds.”
Bridgewater’s roster also includes two former area players — Ragsdale product and junior guard Benaiah Wise plus sophomore guard Sammy Tyson from Wesleyan.