On the heels of a nearly break-even basketball season (14-15) in 2004-05, Bob Williams feels his WVU Tech Golden Bears can be competitive again this season.

Tech will stage a Meet the Team Night at 8 p.m. tonight at the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center. Then, the Bears will kick off the regular season with a 7 p.m. home contest against Ohio Southern Saturday. The Bears will spend a good deal of the first semester and the early portion of the second semester playing before enemy fans, as eight of the first 11 contests are on the road.

To prepare for the season opener, Tech recently scrimmaged Pfeiffer, Johnson C. Smith and NAIA No. 1 Mountain State University. Against MSU Monday night, Tech fell by a 105-80 count as Brandon Moore tallied 26 and Armand Ivory, a 6-foot-3 junior college transfer, collected 24. Moore, a six-foot-four transfer from Eastern Kentucky, was 8-of-13 from beyond the three-point arc for Tech.

“We had a real good scrimmage against Pfeiffer,” said Williams, whose team split 20-minute periods. “We didn’t look great against Johnson C. Smith Wednesday at home.

“We just wanted to see if we could compete against those three good teams. We’re coming along.”

Returnees Tyler Dodd (11.6 ppg) and Ronnie Means (5.2 apg) will lead a guard-heavy roster this year for Tech. Moore, Ivory and Klint Frazier, a freshman from South Charleston, will also figure prominently in the guard rotation.

“We’ll be really improved on the perimeter,” said Williams. “We’ll be better in transition and in shooting the three-pointer, and we’ll be quicker.”

Providing big minutes on the interior will be Jeraude Lowe, a 6-foot-2 swingman, 6-foot-5 Patrick Ndombasie, 6-foot-8 Jeremy Willis, 6-foot-7 Carey Miller, 6-foot-3 K.K. Malachi (a member of the Tech football team), and 6-foot-4 J.B. Brooks, a former Midland Trail standout.

Redshirts this year include Scott Arbogast, a Gauley Bridge High graduate, and Quielan Gantt.

Among the key losses to graduation were leading scorer and rebounder Rodney Mayes, a first-team all-WVC choice, as well as crowd favorite Daniel McGaffeny.

Since the school’s athletic programs are on suspension by the West Virginia Conference, Tech is not eligible for the WVC title. But, if they play well enough, the Bears can still qualify for NCAA Division II post-season play.

“We’re not on NCAA probation,” said Williams. “Our games are going to count in the standings, just not for us.

“We’ll play the games, improve the program and hopefully have a better season than we did a year ago.”

To add on to the woes created by the WVC ban, Williams said several players transferred or decided not to play this year.

“It hasn’t been an enjoyable last seven to eight months,” he said.

The Lady Golden Bears of coach Reggie Carrick will begin their season with a 5:15 p.m. contest against Slippery Rock at Institute Friday, Nov. 18. On the next day, the Tech women will entertain Bluefield State at 4 p.m. in a non-league outing.

— E-mail: skeenan@fayettetribune.com

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