Ron Spry hopes this weekend will be a milestone one for him.
Paine plays host to Kennesaw State at 8 p.m. today and Georgia College and State at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Paine College Hall of Fame Classic.
Two wins will give Spry his 400th career victory.
"I really haven't thought about it," said Spry, entering his 20th year at Paine. "But every so often someone will share it with me. Having 400 victories is a milestone."
Last year, the Lions went 13-14 and fell to LeMoyne Owen 76-72 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals.
This season, Spry hopes to get his team back to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Lions return 11 players, including 6-foot-5 senior forward Mac Young and long-range shooting guards Yari Scott and Colin Jamerson. Scott and Young are pre-season all-conference selections.
"Yari shot the ball extremely well all year long," Spry said. "Later in the season, Colin didn't shoot the ball as well as he did at the beginning. But he's capable of shooting the ball real well.
"Mac Young is going to be vital."
While the perimeter game is of little concern, Spry will have to replace junior guard Chris Neal. Neal, a staple of the Lion offense the past two years, tore his anterior cruciate ligament over the summer and is out for the season.
Spry is hoping that freshman guard Vinson Winfrey, of Thomson, will be able to fill that void and give him some quality minutes.
"We've got some highs, we've got some lows," Spry said. "We've got a nucleus of ball players returning which is a plus."
The Lions continue to work on the play in the frontcourt, where rebounding has been a problem the last few seasons. Six-foot-seven Amos Brittain will likely start at center and will get help from 6-8 center Kelly Winstead.
"Our inside game is something we have to improve," Spry said. "We've got some height. We have to utilize that the way we want in our offensive and defensive schemes."
After Paine's two home games this weekend, the Lions will play seven straight on the road, including three conference games. Paine's next home game will not be until Jan. 4.
"It's going to be challenging," Spry said. "It also could work out for us. If we go out and play real well, we could put the pressure on our conference teams in the second half because they would have to come to us."
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