NewsCougars Post Another 20-Win Hoops Season in 2002-2003
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - For the sixth time in the past seven years, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men's basketball team posted a 20-win season as the Cougars finished the 2002-2003 hoops campaign with a 20-13 overall record.
Fresh off winning the National Christian College Athletic Association national title in 2002, MVNU opened the new season by winning its first 10 games to match the school's longest winning streak at 14 straight games dating back to the end of last year. During that span, the team won the Cougar Homecoming Classic, the Defiance College Tip-off Tournament, and the Food for the Hungry Holiday Invitational. The Cougars also jumped into the NAIA Division II national poll and shot up all the way to ninth on December 10.
At that point, MVNU began the American Mideast Conference South Division portion of its schedule with a close loss at the University of Rio Grande, a team that would later qualify for the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
After splitting a pair of games at the Webber International (Fla.) University Tournament during Christmas break, the Cougars returned to their conference slate of games. MVNU finished 6-9 in AMC South Division play and just missed making the AMC Tournament.
The Cougars closed out the regular season with a 94-87 victory over Geneva (Pa.) College. Then, after a 26-day layoff, MVNU returned to the NCCAA National Tournament that was held this time in Frankfort, Kentucky.
After falling in the opening round to second-seeded Christian Heritage (Calif.) College, the Cougars closed out their season with wins over Warner Pacific (Ore.) College and Crichton (Tenn.) College to finish fifth out of eight teams.
"This was a season of some highs and some lows," said MVNU head coach Scott Flemming, who notched his 250th victory at the school on February 4 at Ohio Dominican University. "I feel like we finished out the season on a positive note by winning three of our last four games and reaching the 20-win mark. Really, with the loss of four significant players to graduation the year before, I would say that our coaching staff felt that we exceeded our overall expectations."
Individually, Phil Argento capped off his stellar career with one of the best offensive seasons in school history. The senior guard set 16 school records as he averaged a record 22.4 points per game and became the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,338 points to surpass the previous mark of 2,242 points set by current MVNU women's basketball coach Steve Gregory from 1987-1991.
Argento also became the Cougars' career leader in three-pointers made with 465 treys - setting a new mark for the state of Ohio in the process as he bettered the record of 428 set previously by Phil Gebhardt of Malone College from 1988-1992. Argento's three-point total ranks him sixth in the history of college basketball.
Other records that Argento set during the 2002-2003 season included: most points scored in a season (740), most field goals attempted in a game (27), most field goals attempted in a season (568), most field goals attempted (1,751) and made (801) in a career, most three-pointers attempted (17) and made (11) in a game, most three-pointers attempted (374) and made (149) in a season, and most three-pointers attempted in a career (1,134). He scored in double figures in 115 of his 132 career games, and he made at least one three-pointer in 127 games including the final 78 games of his career. He also became the first player in school history to have two 40-point scoring games.
For his efforts, he was selected as the AMC South Division and the NCCAA East Region Player of the Year and named to the NCCAA All-American First Team and the NAIA Division II Honorable Mention All-American Team. He was the Most Valuable Player of two tournaments, and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at three others.
"Although team goals are always our priority, it was great to see Phil reach some tremendous personal accomplishments this year," said Flemming. "He is undoubtedly one of the best players to ever play at MVNU, and he has become one of the top shooters in all of college basketball at all levels."
Brad Moser and Konrod Morris, the other two seniors on this year's squad, also wrapped up their careers in fine fashion. Moser averaged 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game to go with 108 assists and a team-high 59 steals as he was named to the AMC South Division Second Team and the NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention Team. Morris added 10.1 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game as he finished tenth in school history with 583 career rebounds. For his efforts, Morris was named to the AMC South Division and the NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention Teams. Both Moser and Morris were also named to two All-Tournament Teams.
Junior guard Andy Dunn recorded his best collegiate season so far as he averaged 12.2 points and dished out a team-high 133 assists. He also shot 41.7 percent from three-point land and was second on the team with 103 three-pointers. For his efforts, he was named to the AMC South Division and the NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention Teams, and he was also the Defiance Tip-off Tournament Most Valuable Player. An outstanding student in the classroom, Dunn was also selected as an NAIA Division II and an NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete.
Sophomore center Anthony Delimpo had a solid season as he averaged 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game - both second on the team. He also blocked a team-high 22 shots, and he shot a team-best 60.9 percent from the field (171-for-281). He was named to the Defiance Tip-off Tournament and the Food for the Hungry Holiday Invitational All-Tournament Teams.
Juniors Matt Hilbert, Dan Weston, and Chip Wilson each contributed to the team's success. Hilbert averaged 5.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while Weston averaged 1.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. Wilson also contributed 1.2 points per game to go with 25 steals and 27 assists. Weston joined Dunn as an NAIA Division II and an NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete.
Sophomore guard Benji Hall made an impact in his second season as he averaged 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game off the bench. Meanwhile, freshman point guard Alan Bock started 12 games for the Cougars and dished out 74 assists in his first collegiate season while shooting a team-best 88.9 percent at the free throw line.
Sophomore Jeremy Underwood (0.9 ppg and 0.8 rpg) and freshmen Andrew Thompson (3.8 ppg) and Nick Zarley (1.5 ppg) gave MVNU added depth with their contributions off the bench. Thompson also led the team in three-point shooting at 48.9 percent (22-of-45).
The loss of Argento, Moser, and Morris to graduation will not be easy for the Cougars to replace, but with a solid group of returning players and some outstanding new recruits coming in the future looks bright for the MVNU men's basketball program.