Bobcat Basketball Looking to Succeed Despite New Faces
“We’re going to be playing an exciting brand of unselfish basketball that our student body will enjoy and be proud of,” says new assistant coach Mo Williams.
The second full week of practice is in the books and the new-look Bobcats boast a number of changes before the upcoming season. Whether it is coaching changes, a loaded backcourt with several players fighting for playing time or 2 new starters in the frontcourt, spirits are high for the upcoming season.
Last season the Bobcats finished the season 7th in the conference with a record of 10-15, ending the season on a 5-game losing streak and just missing the Capital Athletic Conference tournament.
Coach Williams spent last season coaching the CAC champions, Salisbury University. “Coaching at Salisbury last year, I scouted Frostburg and studied our strengths and weaknesses.”
Williams replaces long-time assistant Sean Brown whom departed for a head coaching position elsewhere. “Coach Brown was a big part of my basketball process. Brown recruited me, and he coached me each year I played college ball.”
“Not much has changed since my years playing years here. My first year playing was coming in trying to find my place, now I am here in a leadership position… two totally different roles.”
“I was originally recruited by Coach Brown, I was surprised when I got here and he wasn’t here,” says transfer Darren Campbell, a versatile post player from College of Southern Maryland.
Graduate assistant Bradley Johnson enters his first year of coaching at Frostburg. Johnson comes from Baldwin Wallace, in Cleveland Ohio. “I’m just helping wherever I can, trying to help the guys improve.”
In the first pre-season game of the year against Potomac State College, the Bobcats showed some strong continuity in the backcourt.
Starters Quinton Dodson, Nick Smoot, James Peters, Zachary Coalman and Torrell Goodman rotated the first and second halves with the second team.
“Early in the season we test different lineup… changes could be made game-by-game,” says head coach Webb Hatch.
Seniors Nick Smoot and James Peters both topped over 20 points in a game that showcased some of the team’s early strengths and weakness. “This year, we have been playing better as a team… at the same time we’re still learning to play together,” says Smoot. “We’re all locked in chasing one goal.”
Sophomore guard Tyler Michael was third on the team in scoring last season. Michael has been trying to improve his mid range and driving to the basket. “I noticed a lot of teams trying to run me off the 3-point line last year.”
Coach Hatch has been incorporating young players, transfers and the veterans among the 1st and second teams early on in the season.
“Young players have a different learning curve than transfers,” says Smoot. “Transfers already have experience playing for a college basketball program, while freshman have to adjust to the speed and intensity of the game.”
Junior Shawn Bozier is a transfer from CCBC Essex. Bozier averaged over 15 points 6 rebounds and 4 assists at CCBC. Bozier is a guard that possesses rare athleticism for the position and could provide some miss-matches during the season, according to coaches.
“The level of competition at the NCAA level is tough… We have a lot of big men and size this season, as well as scorers on the outside,” says Bozier.
Freshman Johnson Ogunyoye comes to the program from Charles Flowers High School in Prince George’s County and provides a low post presence for the team after the departure of Jabari Kamau. “Johnson is ahead of the learning curve, he arrived with a skill set that we weren’t necessarily expecting… a pleasant surprise”, says Coach Hatch.
Bozier’s backcourt mate Tavari Merriman joins the team from Riverdale Baptist High School in Prince George’s County. “I feel there is better comradery on the college level and more guys buy into the system,” says Merriman. “So far we can improve on defense, but we have strong shooters and good athleticism.” Merriman will compete for time at the point guard position.
A schedule for the team’s upcoming season can be found at http://www.frostburgsports.com/schedule.aspx?path=mbball&.