Jags set to open preseason slate

Despite the graduation of All-American center Garret Siler, Augusta State coach Dip Metress still found difficulty scheduling exhibition opponents during the off-season.


Metress and athletic director Clint Bryant called just about every Division I basketball coach in the Southeast. All except Alabama's Anthony Grant said no, citing the Jaguars' success on the Division II level the past two seasons.

"Some people said they couldn't take that chance," Metress said. "Crazy things like that."

The 10th-ranked Jaguars found an opponent close to home in Aiken Tech.

In other exhibition action, the USC Aiken men's basketball team will play host to Southern Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Thursday at the convocation center. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and children.

Augusta State returns to action for the first time since losing in the Division II Final Four in March. The Jaguars will play their first game without Siler, who set a career NCAA record for field-goal percentage.

Five seniors will start for Augusta State, including All-American shooting guard Ben Madgen, all-conference guard/forward Fred Brathwaite, point guard Daniel Dixon, power forward Greg Hire and center Alex Smith, a 6-5, 245-pound transfer from William & Mary.

"I want to see how well they play together," Metress said. "Any time you play with the lights on, you're playing to win."

The Jaguars took last year's exhibition matchup with Aiken Tech, 93-46. Siler posted 22 points.

Metress said Aiken Tech, which defeated Benedict in Monday's exhibition, has improved. He added the Knights have two players, sophomore Jerel Stephenson and freshman Anthony Rapley, who would see plenty of playing time if they were on Augusta State's roster.

Aiken Tech coach Bruce Capers said he appreciates playing an NCAA Division II power instead of another junior college program.

"Our style is up-tempo, pressure defense, and we want to run the ball," he said. "When we go play some of these (junior college) teams early in the season, we play pretty physical and we end up pushing them around, and we kind of hit them in the mouth. When we play these four-year schools, it's a chance for somebody to come back and hit us in the mouth. It can be a humbling experience. It's good for us."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.


WHAT: USC Aiken at Augusta State volleyball, 6 p.m.; followed by Aiken Tech at Augusta State men's basketball, 8

WHERE: Christenberry Fieldhouse

TICKETS: $7 adults, $5 senior citizens

NOTE: The basketball team is playing its first game at home since losing in the Division II Final Four in March. Augusta State features All-American guard Ben Madgen and All-Peach Belt Conference guard Fred Brathwaite.