Ballers are back, shooting for big things

After dominating the Great South Atlantic Conference (GSAC) for the past several years, the Maryville College men’s basketball team will face new competition this year in the USA South Conference. Last season, the Scots were able to post an impressive 18-10 record and win yet another conference championship after taking down Lagrange for the title. With a young but talented and energetic team this year, the Scots look to take the new conference by storm in the 2012-2013 seasons and potentially contend for a spot in the final four.

With the loss of some significant seniors from last year’s team such as Donald Rucker, Maverick Willet and 2011-2012 GSAC Player of the Year Milton Stanley, the Scots will have to play as a team more than ever throughout the season. Sophomore point guard Christian Ford fully understands how important it will be to do that. “Obviously losing Milt was a big loss,” Ford said. “That’s 15 or 16 points a game that we are losing. I don’t really see what one person can fill that void, it’s going to have to be all of us together.” Ford, who was named to both the GSAC All-Freshman and the All-Conference teams last year , is going to be depended on heavily to lead the Scots’ offense.

After averaging 10.8 points per game and connecting on 43 percent of his shots from beyond the ark, Ford will look to have a breakout season for Coach Randy Lambert in just his sophomore year. Alongside Ford at the shooting guard position will be one of two seniors on the team, Wes Lambert. As a fifth year senior and a solidified leader of this young squad, Lambert looks to finish off his impressive career on a high note. After scoring over 10 points per contest last season and displaying another outstanding shooting performance from beyond the ark, Lambert will be one of many key ingredients to the success of the Scots. After being ranked second in the conference behind only Christopher Newport University in the pre-season polls, Ford is feeling good about where the team stands and is excited to play new teams and higher competition.

“This new conference will help us in the NCAA tournament because we didn’t really get hard competition in last year’s conference,” Ford said. “Once we get to the NCAA tournament this year, we will be used to playing better teams throughout the regular season.” Another sophomore that played a versatile role for the Scots last year as a full time starter is Oscar Butler.

Butler was able to play hard down low in the paint, and he was also able to step out and shoot from the perimeter when the opportunity was there. With the loss of Willet, Butler knows that he is going to have to play big down low this season. “If you watched the games last season, you know Mav was a big part for us,” Butler said. “I think we are doing a good job making up for that right now and everyone is doing a good job of playing their part.” Butler was able to rack up over six points per game last year and was often the team’s leading rebounder.

With rumors of this year’s squad being potential final four contenders, the expectations are as high as ever for the Scots basketball team. After asking Ford what he thought about the rumor, he seemed up for the challenge.

“That would be amazing,” Ford said.” Maryville hasn’t made it real far in the tournament since way back in the day so it would be pretty big for us to make it there.” Whether they make it to the final four or not, one thing is for certain: the future is bright for this young and skilled team. With three starters being sophomores, the Scots will be the team to beat in the USA South this season and for years to come.

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