Jaguars relish fresh start after challenging end to last season

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A new name. A new floor. And a new team.

The signs outside Christenberry Fieldhouse still read “Augusta State University.” But when the men’s basketball team opens its season at 7 tonight at home against Tusculum, the Jaguars will go by a new name– Georgia Regents.

The Jaguars are hosting the four-team, two-day HCCU PBC-SAC Challenge. Anderson plays Lander in the first game at 5 p.m. On Sunday, Lander faces Tusculum at 2 p.m., while Georgia Regents will play Anderson.

In last season’s 14-13 campaign, the Jaguars went just 8-5 at home. To coach Dip Metress, those five losses were unacceptable.

Georgia Regents opens this season with eight of its first 12 games at home.

“I want to see us get our home court back,” he said. “I want us to get that swag back.”

The Jaguars had plenty of swag when they reeled off six consecutive wins to start last season. Then, it all went south in January when starting forward Harold Doby was suspended for the season on a gun charge, which was later dismissed.

Metress then dismissed starting center Chad July. The team suddenly had little size inside, and was hammered on the boards.

Now, the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Doby is back as a senior. Also, senior center K.J. Sherrill (6-foot-8, 225) is primed to start after redshirting last season with his brother Keshun, a freshman point guard.

“It’s a big difference this year since we have Doby back and K.J. down there,” said senior shooting guard Ryan Weems, who led the team with a 15.7 scoring average last season. “They’re a threat. Teams have to worry about them inside, and we have shooters on the outside, too.”

Metress said he’s planning on 11 players in the rotation.

While the team returns veterans in guards D’Angelo Boyce and Devonte Thomas and forward Devon Wright-Nelson, Metress expects to get immediate contributions from junior college transfers Ronell Crockett, a 6-3, 190-pound guard/forward and Henry McCarthy (6-9, 202, forward).

AT A GLANCE

COACH: Dip Metress (10th year, 205-75; 18th season overall, 339-178)

LAST YEAR: 14-13, 9-10 SIAC (Lost in PBC Tournament quarterfinals)

KEY PLAYERS: SG Ryan Weems (Sr.), C K.J. Sherrill (Sr.), F Harold Doby (Sr.)

OUTLOOK: This year, the Jaguars have depth, which was a major issue the second half of last season. If newcomers Ronell Crockett and Henry McCarthy deliver, and Doby makes up for lost time, this team could contend again for another league title.


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