Braves have talent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 2004

MURFREESBORO – On paper, the assembled talent for the 2004-2005 men’s basketball Braves exceeds any the college has put on the floor since becoming a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

But games aren’t won on paper, and the Braves and head coach Jim Tribbett are well aware of that fact.

&uot;I’m looking forward to winning,&uot; senior Joseph Cowan said. &uot;Last year, we were sort of rebuilding. This year with as many people as we have back, this coaching staff and the team we have, there’s no reason we shouldn’t win.&uot;

Fellow senior Roland Brown echoed those sentiments.

&uot;We’re looking for wins this season,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We have high expectations. With us coming together as a team, we’re excited about this season – more excited than we’ve been in a long time.&uot;

Excitement has every reason to abound on the Murfreesboro campus.

Along with the leadership provided by Cowan and Brown, the Braves will benefit from the return of last year’s leading scorer in Trayvon Lathan. The sophomore from Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake, Virginia averaged 21.6 points per game during his rookie season.

Brown was the team’s second leading scorer, averaging 10.1 points per game while Cowan led the team in treys with 38 on the season.

Sophomore Marcus Artis will also be back on the floor for the Braves after leading the team in blocked shots last season.

Another key returnee for the Braves will be sophomore forward Isaac McCall. He will hold down one of the forward slots. McCall is a 6’4, 255-pounder from Shanks High School in Quincy, Florida who was second on the team in field goal percentage (.516).

But, with all the talent his team will see on the floor, their natural ability isn’t what impresses Tribbett the most.

&uot;Character. I like the personality of this team,&uot; he said. &uot;They think I’m funny and seem to believe I know what I’m talking about when it comes to basketball. I enjoy this team.&uot;

As the subject returns to ability, however, Tribbett is forced to smile.

&uot;We have a lot of competition at all positions,&uot; he said. &uot;That assures me we’ve been making good recruiting decisions the last two years.

&uot;I also like the versatility of this team,&uot; he continued. &uot;Almost to a man, we can pass and catch. But, the thing that stands out is that we’re very athletic. We have above-average speed and quickness.&uot;

That athletic ability gives Tribbett and assistant coach C.J. Donnelly something to work with.

&uot;That’s key for the coaches,&uot; Tribbett insisted. &uot;Our goal is to take them from athletic ability to basketball players. We have to mix that God-given ability and get good basketball players.&uot;

In addition to the returning players, the Braves added a couple of older players to the roster this season.

Lance Lathan, a junior out of Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, comes to Chowan from Napa Valley Community College in California. He will add depth to the forward position for the Braves as will Reggie Halsey. He’s also a junior from Chesapeake, Virginia. He came from Deep Creek High School by way of transferring from Christopher Newport University.

Not only the talent, but also the age and experience of those players will help the Braves, according to Donnelly.

&uot;With the new players transferring in from the junior college and CNU, that’s important,&uot; Donnelly said. &uot;They will provide good depth and leadership.&uot;

The assistant coach agreed with Tribbett that versatility was important for the Chowan.

&uot;Our interchangeable pieces are the best part of this team,&uot; he said. &uot;We have a lot of guys that play several positions. We don’t have people that are one, two or three.

&uot;Our power players can handle the ball and some of our undersize players are good in the post,&uot; he continued. &uot;We have no distinct positions.&uot;

As athletic director, Tribbett has insisted that to build programs, there must be seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshman on team rosters.

As a coach, he has built a program that mirrors that philosophy, as his squad will have two seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and seven freshmen.

&uot;I think we have a lot of potential,&uot; Donnelly insisted. &uot;We have done a good job of retention. Our players believe in the program and what we’re trying to do.

&uot;Also, we’ve brought in another recruiting class that believes in those things,&uot; he added.

The Braves will kick off their 2004-2005 campaign on Friday, November 19 at the Helms Center on Chowan’s campus. The Braves will participate in the annual Chowan Classic with a 7 p.m. matchup with Southern Virginia University.

On November 20 they will meet Lynchburg College at 3 p.m.