by Anthony Sizemore, Student Sports Reporter
The Alice Lloyd Eagles come into the 2013-14 season with renewed enthusiasm and are looking to raise some eyebrows. Despite the squad’s struggles last season (11-19, 3-12 KIAC), there were some bright spots that included an upset victory over conference powerhouse Indiana University East and pushing nationally-ranked Indiana University Southeast to the limit.
According to head coach J.R. Hammond, one of the biggest reasons as to why the team got off to such a slow start was their inability to play effectively as a unit. The team could never quite click on all cylinders, which the coach contributes to a lack of maturity and to new players having to learn a new system. The Eagles’ main priority for this season is to play inspired basketball and to perform to their potential.
“As the case with any team in any season, we want to go as far as we can and do our best,” senior guard Isaac Wilson said. “Does that mean win the conference? In my opinion, no, we just want to do the best that we can do. We feel that if we can go out and play our best game, game in and game out, then, at the end of the year, we can hold our heads high, no matter how far that takes us.”
This year, the squad will be without big man Terry Muse. (Muse graduated last spring.) Hammond elaborated on the impact that the leading rebounder from last season had.
“Terry was 6’10 and 275 pounds. He was a beast in the middle, and you’re never going to replace that. We’re going to miss him, especially when it comes to rebounding, but we’ve got some big guys that can play. We’re just a different style of team now.”
Without Muse, there figures to be a change in philosophy on offense and defense. Alice Lloyd will be playing a game with more up-tempo this year as opposed to last year’s slower-paced style. Wilson suggested that this year’s team is smaller and more athletic.
“We’re a much quicker team,” Wilson said. “We’re very guard-oriented this year whereas last year we went through Terry to set something up and took advantage of the mismatches he presented. This year, we should be able to pressure people, create turnovers, and get out into the open floor. I feel like that is going to be our best offense. If we can do that, that’s when you will see us succeed this season.”
Wilson, a four-year starting guard from Corbin, Kentucky, led the team in assists last year and will look to play a prominent role in the team’s success once again. Wilson acknowledged that he had played through a hip injury last season, but insists he is back to full health for the 2013-14 campaign.
One man that is expected to have a big year is Tyler Rogers. It will be hard for the versatile forward to repeat what he did last season as he led Alice Lloyd in scoring and blocks as a freshman. With all of that said, Coach Hammond thinks that the sophomore from Lexington, Kentucky can be much better this year.
“Tyler became one of the top shot blockers in the conference and in the nation. He has the athleticism and the frame. He just has to get consistent. He has to get better in his conditioning, and he just has to work on getting better and stronger. The sky is the limit for him.”
Stuart Stamper, a senior from Hindman, Kentucky, brings tenacity and toughness to the defense. The guard is considered as one of the best on-ball defenders in the conference.
Cody Stumbo (junior forward from Bowling Green, Kentucky) and Nick Litton (sophomore forward from Lafollette, Tennessee) will be seeing more action for the Eagles this season. Stumbo’s ability to make shots from beyond the arc and his knowledge for the game makes him a lethal asset. Like Rogers, Litton has the potential to have a huge impact with his excellent shot-blocking skills, but he can also stretch the floor with his ability to make the outside shot or play down on the block.
Hammond and Wilson are excited by what the new recruits and incoming transfers bring to the table for this season.
Sophomore Cody Malicoat, a native of Jellico, Tennessee, is a transfer from the University of Pikeville. The forward figures to play a role similar to Litton: he will stay down on the block and play a big role defensively. As for the team’s freshmen, Alex Sergent (guard from Harlan, Kentucky) is a quality shooter, especially from the perimeter. Austin Brewer (forward from Crum, West Virginia) is a low post player that has caught Hammond’s eye.
“He is blooming a lot quicker than what I thought he would,” the coach said, “and he has a soft touch.”
Tyler Brewer (guard from Harlan, Kentucky) has a good feel for the game and has nice passing skills, and Devon Mills (guard from Barbourville, Kentucky) is a great defender.
The rest of the roster looks like this: Trevor Combs (sophomore guard from Hazard, Kentucky), Jordan Adkins (sophomore guard from Corbin, Kentucky), Dakota Hall (sophomore guard from Hi Hat, Kentucky), Ethan Shelley (sophomore guard from Jellico, Tennessee), Kuron Mitchell (sophomore guard from Beckley, West Virginia), Zac Crawford (sophomore guard from Church Hill, Tennessee), Garratt Tinsley (sophomore forward from Hurricane, West Virginia), Chase Adkins (freshman guard from Tazewell, Tennessee), Kevon Honeycutt (freshman guard from Oneida, Tennessee), Chad Collins (freshman guard from Paintsville, Kentucky), and Marquis Cunningham (freshman forward from Matewan, West Virginia).
Alice Lloyd opened the 2013-14 season on November 2nd with a win over Union College.