Men's Basketball Preseason Outlook
Oct. 15, 2003
Corvallis, Ore. -
Note: The first practice will be Sat., Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. The team will scrimmage at approximately 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Webster's Dictionary defines the word as: 'A movement, development, or evolution from one form.'
For second-year head coach Jay John and the Oregon State University men's basketball program:
The movement is within the roster, where six newcomers join the program The development is in the depth at every position. The evolution is to a more athletic team with the ability to play at a faster pace.
'This is a very exciting time for this program,' John said. 'We are young, no doubt about that, but we also have athleticism that we didn't have last season. This is truly a transition year for Oregon State basketball.'
The popular John welcomes back a total of seven lettermen, but just one starter off a team that accumulated a 13-15 mark last season and finished tied for sixth in the Pac-10 Conference. This is also a team that features no seniors on the roster for the first time since the 1978-79 campaign.
It might be odd to state that a sophomore is among the most experienced players on the roster, but that is exactly the case for the Beavers. Point guard Lamar Hurd started all 28 games last season as a true-freshman and earned honorable mention on the Pac-10's All-Freshman Team.
'If you are forced to have only one returning starter on a youthful team, the point guard position would be your first choice,' John said. 'Lamar has always played more mature than his age, and that is a huge plus for this team.'
Hurd led the team for minutes played (33.4 per game) last year, was seventh in the conference for assists (3.8), and his 105 total assists for the season are the third-highest ever by a Beaver freshman. The likely future academic awards recipient is arguably the first true point guard in the program since 1996-97.
'He has all the skills you look for in a point guard,' John said. 'He can get teammates the ball in positions where they can be successful, he knows when to push the ball, he knows when to settle things down and run the offense, and he is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates. I've been around a number of very good point guards in my coaching career, and Lamar certainly has a chance to be among the very best.'
Hurd's running mates in the backcourt include a trio of returning lettermen and one newcomer. Junior J.S. Nash is the most experienced player on the roster with 55 games, including 20 starts. Nash struggled shooting last season, but has shown glimpses of being a good perimeter threat. He can also handle the ball and is among the program's top players at getting to the rim off the dribble.
'J.S. will help this team in terms of his experience,' John said. 'He never seemed to get in rhythm with his shot last season, but I look for him to have a breakout year as a junior. He is suddenly a veteran on this club and that is a role he can handle.'
Sophomore Chris Stephens came off the bench last season and demonstrated ability as a shooter. His biggest value to the team may be the sort of hot streaks that he unleashed at USC (5-for-6 3-pointers) and at California (4-for-6 3-pointers) a year ago. His inconsistency should diminish after one year of experience.
'Chris wore down at the end of last year, and that is not uncommon for a true freshman,' John said. 'What I like about Chris is his calm demeanor on the floor. He possesses all the skills to hit a big shot in a tough situation. He has a tremendous future in this program.'
The guard position also includes junior Vic Remmers, true freshman Angelo Tsagarakis, and junior Jason Fontenet. Remmers is a guard with a reputation for accurate shooting, Tsagarakis alone should improve the Beavers' shooting prowess from the perimeter, and Fontenet is available only for practices this season after transferring from New Mexico State.
'Angelo is an individual who improves our perimeter shooting immediately,' John said. 'His shooting range will force opponents to respect our perimeter game, something we did not have last year. Vic is also a very good shooter and Jason will be an excellent addition in practice to help our younger players experience the pace of the game at this level.'
Wing players include junior Jim Hanchett, true freshman Kenny Hooks, and redshirt-freshman Michael Johnson. The trio has solid reputations for being excellent student-athletes and fit nicely into an up-tempo style. The 6-5 Hanchett, a transfer from Utah Valley State College, and the 6-7 Hooks are both versatile players who upgrade the position from past seasons. Johnson, at 6-4, is coming off a redshirt year and has improved his overall game.
'This program will benefit immensely from the addition of these individuals,' John said. 'Hanchett and Hooks are very complete players and are among the top athletic forwards at OSU in several years, while Johnson has worked diligently on his game and should be a much improved player.'
Inside, things will look vastly different with the losses of Brian Jackson and Philip Ricci. Those two accounted for the bulk of the team's scoring and leadership over the last two years, and both earned several postseason honors. Attempting to fill the void left by Jackson and Ricci are juniors David Lucas and Derek Potter, sophomore Kevin Field, and freshmen Kyle Jeffers and Liam Hughes.
'We can't totally replace what Brian and Philip contributed to this program, but hopefully as a group we can recoup some of the production,' John added. 'We have potential in the paint, but we need individuals to step up and make sizeable contributions.'
The 6-7 Lucas was one of the most improved players in the conference during the last half of the 2003 season. His prowess around the basket on the offensive end and his defensive timing harassed some of the better power forwards and centers in the league last year.
'David seized an opportunity and has developed into a very good player,' John said. 'He has all the makings of an excellent power forward, and as he continues to get stronger will become more of a force.'
Potter and Field both have experienced the rigors of Division I athletics, and both will be looked to for more consistency. The 6-8 Jeffers can play several roles for the team and is expected to make an immediate impact with his athleticism. The 7-2 Hughes has made huge strides in his game since arriving in the United States from England in 2000 and could be a factor as early as this season.
'Derek and Kevin have shown the coaching staff potential in a lot of ways, but they need to be more consistent - and that will likely happen as they continue to see more playing time,' John explained. 'Kyle is a terrific athlete who gives this team versatility inside, and Liam has tremendous potential and I'm anxious to see his development in the coming months.'
With the youthful team, the coaching staff has compiled a schedule that will enable it to play at home during much of the preconference slate, avoiding lengthy road trips to hostile environments. The team hosts Kansas State out the Big 12 Conference, plus regional games with Portland, Boise State, and Sacramento State. John has scheduled trips to Colorado and Hawaii to give his team a taste of what to expect for the Jan. 2 Pac-10 opener at UCLA.
'We have built a schedule that allows us to ease our younger players into Division I basketball, but at the same time we have upgraded our schedule from past years,' John said. 'It's important for this team to play tough opponents prior to conference action and gain confidence, but at the same time we can't be traveling all over the country like we have in the past.
'I'm very excited about this team. This could be a team that we look back at in a couple seasons and realize this was the group who helped this program back to its rightful place among the conference's elite. We have a solid group of outstanding players; but, just as important, individuals who are serious about their academics and being good citizens.'
ROSTER BREAKDOWNStarters Ret. (1) HT WT CL POS PPG RPG APGLamar Hurd 6-4 190 So. G 6.4 3.9 3.8
Other Returnees (7) HT WT CL POS PPG RPGKevin Field 6-11 265 So. C 0.3 0.4Michael Johnson 6-4 220 Fr. G/F Redshirt in 2002-2003David Lucas 6-7 230 Jr. F 6.6 3.6J.S. Nash 6-2 200 Jr. G 5.5 2.8Derek Potter 6-11 260 Jr. C 1.5 1.6Vic Remmers 6-5 205 Jr. G 0.8 0.5Chris Stephens 6-2 190 So. G 3.6 0.6
Newcomers (6) HT WT CL POS Last SchoolJason Fontenet* 5-10 165 Jr. G New Mexico StateJim Hanchett 6-6 235 Jr. F Utah Valley JCKenny Hooks 6-7 203 Fr. F Moss Point (MS) HSLiam Hughes 7-2 306 Fr. C Modesto Christian (CA) HSKyle Jeffers 6-9 238 Fr. F Montgomery (CA) HSAngelo Tsagarakis 6-2 195 Fr. G Casa Grande (CA) HS*Ineligible transfer
Lettermen Lost (6) HT WT POS PPG RPGMike Cokley 5-10 185 G 0.5 0.1Jimmie Haywood 6-2 174 G 10.7 3.1Brian Jackson 6-9 244 F 12.8 5.1Floyd North III 6-4 218 G/F 5.3 3.6Philip Ricci 6-7 253 F 16.5 8.2Sal Vance 6-7 212 F 0.0 0.2