NewsMVNU Men's Basketball Team Ready to Tip-off New Season
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - In posting six 20-win seasons over the past seven years, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men's basketball team has had several outstanding basketball players go through the program.
In the past two seasons alone, the Cougars have compiled a 44-24 record and won one National Christian College Athletic Association national title. However, seven players have since graduated from those teams and four starters are gone from last year's 20-13 squad including Phil Argento, who became the program's all-time leading scorer and set 15 other school records.
With only 39 combined college starts among the returning players, MVNU head coach Scott Flemming knows that he has a challenge ahead, but the all-time winningest coach in the history of the Cougars' program is ready to attack the season head on.
"This is a team with only a few players with considerable experience on the floor at the college level," said Flemming, who is entering his 14th season as the head coach at his alma mater with a 255-169 record at MVNU. "We will need some of our returning players as well as our newcomers to establish themselves in order to be successful. I really like the chemistry of this group, but there are many unknowns until we get into our season. Our four senior captains will need to mentor our younger players both on and off the court."
Senior shooting guard Andy Dunn (6-foot-1) returns to shoulder some of the scoring load after averaging 12.2 points per game and dishing out a team-high 133 assists a year ago. He also went 103-for-247 (41.7 percent) from three-point range in earning American Mideast Conference South Division and NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention status.
Junior guard/forward Benji Hall (6-foot-3) and sophomore guard Andrew Thompson (6-foot) should be ready to play a greater role this season, while sophomore Nick Zarley (6-foot-3) gives the Cougars a perimeter threat at the forward position. Hall averaged 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last year, while Thompson shot 48.9 percent from three-point range (22-of-45). Sophomore guard Candun Griffin (6-foot) will also move up from the junior varsity team, where he averaged 9.3 points per game.
Sophomore Alan Bock (5-foot-6) and senior Chip Wilson (5-foot-10) will most likely share time at the point guard position. Bock started 12 of the final 13 games last year and finished with 74 assists, while Wilson returns for his fourth season.
Senior center Matt Hilbert (6-foot-7) has improved on both ends of the floor and should contribute greatly in the low post. Hilbert averaged 5.5 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing in all 33 games last year, and he averaged 9.2 points and 8.2 rebounds as a starter in five games. Senior forward Dan Weston (6-foot-4), who was an NAIA and NCCAA All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2002-2003, will provide a spark off the bench with his energy and intensity.
MVNU could have arguably one of its best recruiting classes ever with the addition of Mark Hess, Ryan Seesholtz, John Regula, and Steve Mayes. "I think that this group of freshmen can all make an impact this year," said Flemming. "It will be fun to see them grow together."
Hess, a 6-foot-6 post from Ashland, Ohio, averaged 13.0 points and 8.0 rebounds as a senior at Ashland High School while being named to the All-Conference First Team for the third straight year. Seesholtz, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward from Georgetown, Ohio, averaged 24.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 steals, and 4.0 assists as a senior at Georgetown High School as he was named the Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Regula, a 6-foot-5 forward from Fresno, Ohio, averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists as a senior in helping Garaway High School to a Division III state runner-up finish while being named to the state All-Tournament Team and the All-Conference First Team. Mayes, a 7-foot center from Edgewood, Kentucky, averaged 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks as a senior in helping Dixie Heights High School to a district title. Mayes was named to the All-District First Team and the All-Region Team.
The Cougars will continue their preseason with an exhibition game against Athletes in Action on Monday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m. Then, the season will get under way for MVNU as they travel to the Berea (Ky.) College Tournament on November 7-8. Following another away game at Ohio State University-Newark on November 11, the Cougars will make their home debut on Friday, November 14, with a Homecoming game against Houghton (N.Y.) College.
MVNU will be tested every time out in the highly-competitive American Mideast Conference South Division with home and away games against Cedarville University, University of Rio Grande, Shawnee State University, Urbana University, Walsh University, Malone College, Ohio Dominican University, Tiffin University, and Wilberforce University.
The Cougars will take a trip to California in November to face La Sierra University and Point Loma Nazarene University. The team will also host the annual Food for the Hungry Holiday Invitational on December 5-6 with Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) College, Defiance College, and Madonna (Mich.) University rounding out the tournament field.
Other non-conference games for MVNU this year include road games at Seton Hill (Pa.) University, Ohio State University-Marion, and Geneva (Pa.) College. The Cougars will also host Point Park (Pa.) College and Notre Dame College in non-conference contests.