Augusta embraces challenge of new roles

Tamyrik Fields has only known an Augusta University team with a star guard leading the way.

 

Now a senior and one of the leaders, Fields is set to turn the page and help guide the Jaguars further into March with a certain theme.

“It’s definitely a group effort,” Fields said.

Augusta went 24-8 last season, reaching the Peach Belt Conference tournament semifinals and the NCAA Southeast Regional semifinal. A disappointing six-point loss to Queens University in the regional ended a season in which it posted its highest win total since 2013-14.

The end of the season also marked the end of Keshun Sherrill’s career in Augusta. The All-American became the all-time leading scorer in the Peach Belt and Augusta, and his No. 10 jersey was retired by the Jaguars after the season.

Augusta, led by coach Dip Metress in his 14th year, is now tasked with replacing that production while players learn new roles.

“Guys witnessed a great player approach the game the right way,” Metress said. “Their approach has been good. Their work has been good. The ability to deliver down the stretch, that’s what he was phenomenal at. There are so many things that go into winning a game late. That’s a big adjustment, no question.”

An upperclass core led by Fields, Kyle Doyle, Vlad Cobzaru, Deane Williams and Tyvez Monroe will be counted on to come together and guide the Jaguars back to the Division II tournament.

Metress said they expect to be more inside-oriented with four of their top eight players focused around the paint. Fields, Doyle, Cobzaru and Williams will provide much of that inside production, while Monroe, Aaron Byrd and Dereck Oliver will handle much of the guard duties.

“Everyone has a little bit of a new role,” Metress said. “They don’t realize how hard it is, but that reality is starting to hit them in the face. It’s all part of trying to win.”

Augusta has seven freshmen listed on the roster, meaning youth could be in order off the bench. Many of the younger players are guards who may have to learn on the fly this season.

Fields said it’s the responsibility of the veterans to help lead the freshmen by implementing a sense of urgency among the team, as well as offer high expectations for the younger players to grow quickly at the college level.

“The newcomers have a big role, because they’re a big part of the team,” Fields said. “They have to learn at a faster pace than say a team that only has two freshmen. The expectations on them are very high to come in and learn the plays and execute as if they were a sophomore or junior.”

After exhibition games against Clemson and Georgia Southern last week, Augusta is preparing for its season opener today against Mount Olive to kick off a four-game stretch on the road before the home opener Nov. 25 against Bowie State.

The players are putting high expectations on themselves for another successful season. Chemistry is tight among them and communication has been a positive as they learn their places on the floor in a new year.

“It’s a different adjustment for guys,” Metress said. “People think they want to take the shot, but it’s not so much the ability to take the shot, it’s how you do if you miss that shot. Are you willing to take the next one? They’re embracing the challenge of it.”

 

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