COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - With a roster that features eight newcomers,
Tennessee Tech basketball fans can expect to see a brand new look
in 2008-09 when the Golden Eagles take the floor for their seventh
season under head coach Mike Sutton.
In addition to the faces on the floor, there will also be some new looks inside Tech's home arena. The floor has undergone a facelift featuring the new logo, and construction is nearing completion on a spacious new basketball coaching complex.
There's plenty of "new" to get everybody anxious to have a peek.
Fans will have their first chance to see the new team next Monday (Nov. 10), when Tech hosts an exhibition game against Anderson College. It's the second game of an exhibition doubleheader, with the Tech women facing Tusculum at 5:30 p.m.
With all that is new, this year's Golden Eagles will also features a few recognizable, seasoned returnees who will be the nucleus of the team.
While Tech must replace graduated seniors Anthony Fisher, Amadi McKenzie and Rashaud Nixon, fans who follow the squad can look forward to the return of centers Daniel Northern and Ra'Shun Bryant, and guards Will Barnes, Frank Davis and Zac Walker.
In addition to those five, the roster also includes returning forwards Bassey Inameti and Alex Davis, both redshirts a year ago.
Tech was 13-19 overall last year, and managed a 10-10 record in Ohio Valley Conference play to finish fifth. This season, Sutton and his squad are setting their sights on the same target as they always seek, an OVC title.
"Our goal is the same as it is every year," Sutton said. "To compete for the OVC championship and to be playing well for the conference tournament and the NCAA berth that goes with it in March."
To reach those goals will take contributions for an entire roster of talent, but there appears to be enough for the Golden Eagles to challenge.
The inside game has Northern Bryant, Inameti and Davis, plus newcomers Tyler McDaniels and Kevin Murphy.
On the perimeter, the experience of Barnes, Davis and Walker will stabilize a bevy of newcomers which includes Zach Bailey, Elijah Cunningham Muhammed, Riley Hunley, Darnell Lindsay and Zach Newton.
Northern, a 6-foot-9 senior, appears to be the likely go-to guy after ranking first in the Ohio Valley Conference in both rebounds and blocked shots last season. He averaged 12.8 points and 9.3 rebounds, and rejected 90 shots in 32 games.
Bryant is another option in the middle. The 6-9, 275-pound senior began to open some eyes as a junior with impressive minutes in a reserve role, and finished the year averaging 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds. His contributions off the bench were much bigger than that in several games, including nine points in a game against Morehead State, and six points with seven rebounds in a contest against Austin Peay.
Inameti spent his first season as a redshirt, developing his game and adding to his strength, and is anxious to launch his Golden Eagle career. Davis played eight games as a true freshman in 2006-07, then spent last season on the sidelines. His return to the roster gives Sutton's staff added size and strength in the paint.
Davis and Barnes spent lots of time playing in Tech's backcourt last winter, and each should be a leader in their junior season. Walker, meanwhile, returns after missing most of the last two years due to injuries and could be among the best long-distance shooters on the team..
Davis finished fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.0 points per game, while leading the team in 3-pointers. An explosive scorer, Davis is also an effective ball-handler, ranking third on the team in assists with 64 last season.
Barnes began to blossom over the second half of the season, and finished the year averaging 5.1 points per game and ranking second on the team with 71 assists. He averaged in double digits during the final month of the campaign.
Walker is a study in determination, and it will pay off for the 5-10 guard in his final season. After joining the team as a walk-on and seeing limited playing time as a freshman, Walker missed nearly all of the past two seasons with injuries. Undaunted, he has continued to exhibit a healthy work ethic and is expecting to challenge for playing time in the 2008-09 season.
Among the newcomers, juniors Darnell Lindsay and Elijah Cunningham Muhammad are the most experienced, with two seasons each on the junior college level.
Cunningham Muhammad is a point guard who helped South Suburban finish the year ranked No. 5 nationally. Lindsay played two years at Lincoln College and scored more than 800 career points.
Alfred Jones, a sophomore transfer who also comes from Lincoln, will continue to be a teammate of Lindsay's. A 6-7 forward, his strength is rebounding.
Freshmen Zach Bailey, Riley Hunley and Zach Newton are ball-handlers who can add to Tech's backcourt options. Freshmen up front are 6-8 Tyler McDaniels and 6-6 Kevin Murphy.
Tickets for the 2008-09 basketball season are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be purchased online at TTUsports.com.