Jaguars reveling in season's fresh start

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After last season’s turn of events, the Georgia Regents men returned to work Tuesday with a brighter outlook.

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Georgia Regents University basketball player Ryan Weems (center) goes to defend during practice at the Christenberry Fieldhouse.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Georgia Regents University basketball player Ryan Weems (center) goes to defend during practice at the Christenberry Fieldhouse.

On the first official day of basketball season, the Jaguars took their initial steps to improve upon last season’s 14-13 campaign.

“It’s a new year. It’s a new team,” senior center K.J. Sherrill said. “We’re going to buy into what Dip (Metress, coach) is saying and have a great season.”

Last season, the Jaguars opened with six consecutive wins before disaster struck in January when the team lost forward Howard Doby to a gun charge, which was later dropped, and center Chad July, who was expelled.

The team finished the year with eight players.

Georgia Regents sported a new look at practice, with 16 players on the roster – nine of whom are ready to play, with another two close, Metress said. He added four newcomers who are expected to make an impact this season: Brothers K.J. and Keshun Sherrill – they each redshirted last season – and junior college transfers Ronell Crockett, a guard/forward, and forward Henry McCarthy.

“Those four are all going to be guys who are going to be playing good minutes,” Metress said. “Last year, we saw what the Sherrills could do in practice.”

For the Jaguar women, there’s plenty of competition for playing time with the losses of seniors Jemimah Ashby and Tanchelle Hollingsworth. Ashby, the team’s second-leading scorer last season, had knee surgery during the summer and is out. Hollingsworth is ineligible for the first seven games.

“Practice is very critical right now,” Georgia Regents women’s coach Nate Teymer said. “It’s a chance for everyone to step up.”

The Paine men are looking to improve upon last season’s 14-15 campaign. The Lions return two of their top three leading scorers from last season (forwards Jerel Stephenson and Sean Morgan).

The Paine women (12-16 last season) return junior guard Ashley Watts, who led the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 20.4 scoring average last season.

After winning their first Southeast Regional last season, the USC Aiken men are ranked No. 4 in the Division II preseason poll. The Pacers are led by preseason All-American Paul Larsen, a senior forward, along with senior guards Ronald Zimmerman and Jesse Seilern and senior forward Santoine Butler. Also, senior forward Alvin Brown returns after a two-year absence.

The USC Aiken women advanced to the second round of the 2012-13 Division II Tournament last season. Forward Kayla Harris transferred to Wingate, but the Pacer women return senior center Porsha Martin and junior guard Mackenzie Reese.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON OPENERS

TEAM OPPONENT DATE/TIME

Georgia Regents men Tusculum Nov. 9/7 p.m.

Georgia Regents women at Limestone Nov. 16/2

Paine men at Nova Southeastern Nov. 8/5:30

Paine women Morris Nov. 16/6

USC Aiken men at P.R.-Mayaguez Nov. 7/8

USC Aiken women Anderson Nov. 8/7


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