Alvin Brown key to USC Aiken's success

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AIKEN — USC Aiken’s Alvin Brown developed into a defensive force in the paint last season, swatting shots all over the court.

USC Aiken's Alvin Brown is looking to build off last season's 90-block campaign, which included the third triple-double in school history.  CHRIS GAY/STAFF
CHRIS GAY/STAFF
USC Aiken's Alvin Brown is looking to build off last season's 90-block campaign, which included the third triple-double in school history.

The 6-10 center also showed glimpses of his overall game. The Peach Belt Con­fer­ence Defensive Player of the Year recorded his school’s third triple-double, with 13 points, 13 blocks and 10 rebounds in a win over North Georgia.

“That makes me work even harder,” he said. “Once you know it’s possible, you want to do it again and again.”

Brown returns this year looking to help USC Aiken get back to the postseason. The Pacers finished 17-10 last season, failing to make the Division II Tour­na­ment after a three-year postseason run.

USC Aiken lost Myles Holley and Kenny Manigault, who averaged a combined 22 points and 10 rebounds a game, in December because of academic issues. All of the Pacers’ losses were by seven or fewer points, linked to poor free-throw shooting (63 percent) and turnovers (15.7 per game).

“We could’ve won a lot of those games,” junior guard Re’mon Nelson said. “We know we underachieved. This year, we’re looking to show this conference what we can do.”

USC Aiken is picked to finish sixth in a preseason conference coaches poll. The Pacers will start the year without Brown, who is academically ineligible this fall and is expected to return in mid-December. He said it’s been tough watching his teammates play in exhibitions and scrimmages without him.

“It’s my fault,” he said. “I’m doing everything I can to fix that mistake.”

USC Aiken will look to Brown (8.9 points, 5.9 boards a game last season) and Nelson (7.9 points a game, 22 3-pointers) to increase their offensive output after the loss of Byron Faison.

In the off-season, Brown worked on free throws and extending his shooting range.

“He’s gotten so much stronger,” Pacers coach Vince Alexander said. “He’s developed a scoring game. It’s going to be exciting to have him back.”

Alexander, who sports a 193-151 career record, added eight newcomers to his roster. He added depth and size in the frontcourt, with 25-year-old senior forward Jeremiah Pojah (6-7, 215) and junior forward Joel Gierbolini (6-8, 230), who will start at center in place of Brown.

Junior forwards Maurice Hubbard (6-6, 220) and Rick Alderman (6-6, 220) are each expected to see significant playing time.

USC AIKEN MEN’S SCHEDULE

• Wednesday, Voorhees, 7:30 p.m.

• Saturday, at Elizabeth City State, 3 p.m.

• Nov. 22, at Mars Hill, 8 p.m.

• Dec. 1, Allen, 7:30 p.m.

• Dec. 3, Benedict, 2 p.m.

• Dec. 10, Flagler, 3:30 p.m.

• Dec. 14, Armstrong, 7:30 p.m.

• Dec. 16, Elizabeth City State, 7:30 p.m.

• Dec. 17, Virginia Union, 3 p.m.

• Dec. 30, at Virginia Union, 7 p.m.

• Jan. 4, at Francis Marion, 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 7, Columbus State, 3:30 p.m.

• Jan. 14, at Georgia College, 3:30 p.m.

• Jan. 16, Augusta State, 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 18, at UNC Pembroke, 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 21, North Georgia, 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 23, Georgia Southwestern, 7:30 p.m.

• Jan. 26, at Montevallo, 8:30 p.m.

• Jan. 28, at Clayton State, 3:30 p.m.

• Feb. 4, at Armstrong, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 8, at Lander, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 11, UNC Pembroke, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 15, at Augusta State, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 18, Lander, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 22, Francis Marion, 7:30 p.m.

• Feb. 25, at Flagler, 3:30 p.m.

USC AIKEN PACERS

HEAD COACH: Vince Alexander, seventh season

2010-11 RECORD: 17-10

KEY RETURNERS: C Alvin Brown (Jr., 8.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 90 blocks), G Re’mon Nelson (Jr., 7.9 ppg, 4.0 apg), G Jesse Seilern (So., 6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg)

KEY NEWCOMERS: F Jeremiah Pojah (Sr.-TR), F Joel Gierbolini (Jr.-TR), F Rick Alderman (Jr.-TR), F Maurice Hubbard (Jr.-TR)

NOTES: USC Aiken added depth inside the paint to help assist the league’s best shot-blocker, Alvin Brown, who is academically ineligible this fall.

OUTLOOK: The Pacers failed to make a fourth consecutive trip to the postseason after losing Myles Holley and Kenny Manigault in December. With added size, USC Aiken could be good again, especially when Brown returns. If this team jells, the Pacers will be in the mix for a spot in the Division II Tournament.

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