By Abby Adragna
The Greyhound mens basketball team fell to Purdue University 89-64 on Nov. 1 in a season-opening exhibition game at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.
The Hounds stayed close early, tying the score 5-5 and 13-13 in the first several minutes. However, the team struggled with turnovers and missed eight of 14 free throws to trail Purdue 30-46 at the half.
Senior DeAndre Brock led the Hounds in scoring, with 15 points, while junior Tyke Cockerham was close behind with 12. Senior Myron Jackson had three steals and a team-high eight rebounds, while senior Braxton Mills also added eight rebounds.
According to senior Reed Ludlow, the team did not feel intimidated by Division I Purdue University.Ludlow said the men were comfortable heading to West Lafayette because they felt they had an advantage with four seniors and six juniors on the roster.
The Hounds can boast of experience this season with the return of 10 letterwinners, including four starters from the 2006-2007 season.
One of the biggest things about sports, especially basketball, is when you have leaders on your team who are juniors and seniors, Ludlow said. Theyve been there before. You know what you can expect from them, and they raise their level of playing when it really counts.
According to interim head coach Royce Waltman, playing a team like Purdue was a way for him to see if the teams experience would translate into the maturity needed to deal with tough situations in games.
Waltman returns as head coach of the team after leading the Hounds from 1992-97. Mills is confident that Waltman will have a positive impact on the players.
I think hes really going to help us out, Mills said. Hes got a lot of experience [and] a lot of knowledge about the game.
Because the team is predominantly juniors and seniors, Waltman said he believes the Hounds have a chance to win the GLVC tournament.
Mills said the men are hoping to go far in the postseason.
We want to really contend for a conference championship and make it into the NCAA tournament and try to make a run in that, he said.
The Hounds were ranked sixth of seven in the Great Lakes Valley Conference East Division in the leagues 2007-2008 Mens Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll. According to both Ludlow and Mills, the team is ready to prove the ranking wrong.
Its just motivation, Ludlow said. I mean, the preseason polls dont mean too much, but I think its good when people kind of look over you and dont see you as much of a force. We know were not the sixth-best team on our side of the conference, and well be up there when it really matters at the end of the season.
According to Ludlow, although the team consists of virtually the same players as last season, the Hounds have a different attitude.
This years a lot different than the years in the past, Ludlow said. Everyone is a lot more optimistic about the season. In the past, we were unsure about ourselves or about how we matched up with the teams we played. This year, everyone is positivenot really overconfident, but we feel really well-prepared.
The Hounds took on Wright State University on Nov. 5 for the second of two exhibition games. Results were not available as of The Reflector press time.
The team will tip off its official season schedule at home Nov. 15 against Brescia University.