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by Anthony Sizemore, Student Sportswriter

Wilson fends off an MSU defender.

Coming off a challenging start to the 2012-13 season, the youthful Alice Lloyd Eagles are looking to have an even better campaign in the second half of the year. Finishing the opening half of the season at the .500 mark (7-7 overall, 1-1 in the conference), the men’s team have their sights set on bigger things this time around.

The team returned only two starters from a year ago in Isaac Wilson, who led the team in points per game (15.6), steals per game (1.5) and assists per game (4.7) and big man Terry Muse.

Wilson has played a major role since his arrival to Pippa Passes. The 5’9 junior guard from Corbin, Kentucky led the Corbin Redhounds to two 13th Region titles and two appearances in the Sweet Sixteen. He also recorded 105 wins during his time with Corbin. Some players are just born with leadership qualities and Wilson appears to fit that bill.

“He’s a tough ballplayer,” says Muse. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league. What’s good about him is that he can develop his own shot and he can get others open. He can bust a three and he can take it to the rim and finish.”

Muse is no slouch himself on the court. A 6’9 junior from Somerset, Kentucky, he is one of the biggest players in the league. His presence in the post makes it hard for the opposition to score points. The former Southwestern High School player creates problems on the offensive end for the opposition, as well. Muse says that the defense that was used last year allowed him to make a lot of blocks on the opposing teams. He felt he was just fortunate enough to be able to make the plays. Being 6’9 doesn’t hurt, either.

The gentle giant was the team’s leading shot blocker with 3.6 blocks per game and was second in rebounds per game (8.3). He also led the NAIA in blocks per game and total blocks (101).

Muse fights for the opening tip.

When asked about what needed to be done to continue improvement, Muse responded by saying, “All-around we can improve the quality of our play on the defensive end, and, if we can knock down some outside shots and get the inside game going more, we will have a better chance of winning.”

 “Last year on offense he was a bit passive,” says assistant coach Casey Dalton. “At times we’d say ‘Terry, you’ve got to be aggressive. You’re big – nobody should be able to stop you.’ This year, he has turned into the Demarcus Cousins ‘dirty’ big man. He’s not being nice anymore. He’s starting to take the ball and pound it in, and we are starting to get some buckets from him. So, this is going to be scary. You’ve got Terry who is already a good defender and rebounder – if he can keep it up offensively, he can be a good, good player. Not just for us.  I think he can even go overseas.”

During the offseason, the Eagles acquired some players via transfer and re-enrollment: Stuart Stamper, Justin Hobbs, Tyler Rogers and Jordan Adkins. Stamper, a 6’2 guard from Hindman, Kentucky, made the switch from Union College to Alice Lloyd. He played in 29 games his freshman season and 20 games last year during his sophomore year, but transferred during the second half of the season. While he does a solid job on the offensive end, Stamper has developed a reputation for playing great on-the-ball defense.

“He has been a big addition to this team,” Dalton said. “He brings a lot. It’s mainly just tenacity. He is just a guy that doesn’t want to get scored on. I think defensively, east-to-west, moving laterally, he is the best defender we have. He’s one of the best in the conference. His focus and hard work carries over into the games to the other teammates. Other guys see him working hard and getting stops. It gets other guys to play hard. I think it will pay off when we get into conference play and especially in the conference tournament.”

Justin Hobbs, a sophomore guard from Manchester, Kentucky is back from a three-year sabbatical. Hobbs played at Clay County High School. He plays the game with a lot of determination, and his ability to drive to the basket is almost impeccable. Hobbs has some rust to knock off from his time away, but once he does that, he will be hard to stop.

Tyler Rogers is a 6’7 forward from Lexington, Kentucky. “Stretch” played his high school ball at Dunbar High School. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket, which, for his size, is a rarity in the NAIA. He can do a multitude of things on offense, and his wingspan and height cause a lot of chaos on the defensive end.

Rogers shows off his leaping ability during Eagle Madness.

“I can already tell you that Tyler Rogers is going to take the crown from me this year,” says Muse, making a reference to the NAIA shot blocking title. “He is a heck of a shot blocker. He will take it from me this year, I guarantee it. He is a big, tall and powerful presence inside, so hopefully we can control the middle, at least.”

Jordan Adkins, a transfer from Asbury University, is a 5’10 freshman guard from Corbin, Kentucky. When asked about Jordan’s attributes, Dalton said, “He is going to be a heck of a guard for us. He’s got speed and quickness. He is someone who can penetrate and get into the middle of the defense, and I think that is something we are missing right now – someone who can split the defense and get guys open, find the open man. He is going to contribute big time after Christmas.”

The rest of the roster is: Blaine Green, a junior forward from Middlesboro, Kentucky; Corey Hunter, a sophomore forward from Rowan County, Kentucky; Craig Faulkner, a sophomore guard from Elliot County, Kentucky; Trevor Combs, a freshman guard from Perry County, Kentucky; Cody Stumbo, a freshman guard from Bowling Green, Kentucky; Josh Lawson, a freshman forward from Lee, Virginia; and Nick Litton, a freshman forward from LaFollette, Tennessee. Hard-working Bill Deaton, a native of Buckhorn, KY, is the lone senior on the squad.

Coach Hammond

The team is coached by J.R. Hammond. An alumnus and former player for ALC, Hammond wears the passion and pride of the Eagles on his sleeve. He is poised to turn things around. The players think he is a good coach on the court, but an even better person away from it.

Dalton, himself a former Eagles player, stated about his mentor, “Personality-wise, I think Coach Hammond pushes guys to do their best. He is always looking to see how we can get better. That’s what I like most about him. He is always trying to study and help everyone improve, and I feel that it’s paying off.”

Dalton added, “Another thing is that he’s a tremendous guy off the court. That helps a lot with a team. The team knows that he will be there for them, and he is big on character. It helps with recruiting and with guys staying at Alice Lloyd.”

The team averaged about 73 points a game last season, but surrendered 78 points. So far in the 2012-13 season, they have averaged 74 points while giving up 75. That will be something to keep an eye as the season progresses.

The Eagles have been on hiatus since December 8th, but return to play on January 4th versus Point Park and on January 5th versus IU Southeast.