Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University men's basketball team officially began practice for the 2010-11 season on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. inside the Gentry Center. Head Coach John Cooper welcomes nine newcomers to the squad as he enters his second season at the helm of the Tigers.
Practices are open to the media and public for the first 25 minutes. The practice schedule is subject to change.
The Tigers will have a little over two weeks of preparation before two scheduled exhibition games against Trevecca-Nazarene (11/2) and Carson-Newman (11/8). Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. start at the Gentry Center.
TSU will open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 12 at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"It was great to see the players come into the first day prepared and in shape," commented Cooper. "We are a young team and a lot of the guys have spent the offseason together. It's good to see early signs of team chemistry for a group of guys who have only known much of each other through the summer"
After the trip, the Tigers will take on Fisk for their home opener on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
Last year the Tigers finished 9-23 overall, with a 6-12 conference record, while going 5-6 at home. For the upcoming season, the Tigers have added nine to the roster which features only four returners from last year.
Junior Wil Peters (Nashville, Tenn.) and sophomores Robert Covington (Bellewood, Ill.), Jacquan Nobles (Greenville, N.C.), and Tashan Fredrick (Hemingway, S.C.) will head a young team that welcomes the addition of four freshmen, two junior college transfers along with three transfers from highly recognized Division I basketball programs.
"My coaching staff and I thought about the future as well as being competitive this season. We feel the players we brought in add value to our program," said Cooper. "Our freshmen are very talented and we feel that they will have the opportunity to play valuable minutes."
Freshmen, Michael Green (Columbia, S.C.), Verkeneo Mann (Decatur, Ala.), Patrick Miller (Chicago, Ill.) and Malcolm Rhett (Hopkins, S.C.), were named to their all-area teams while receiving either all-state first team or honorable mention selections. Mann redshirted last season after joining the squad mid season.
Junior College transfers Kenny Moore and Jerret Towns bring a wealth of on-court experience after helping their teams to winning records in their final season. Division I transfers Kellen Thornton, Jordan Cyphers, and Muniru Bawa will sit out the 2010-11 season after coming in from reputable programs. Thornton and Cyphers spent two seasons at their previous school while Bawa transfers in after one year.
"Our junior college transfers both come from well respected programs and we are looking forward to them adding experience and toughness on the floor," said Cooper. "With our other transfers, even though they have to sit out this season, we have three players that have played for well established Division I basketball programs. We have no seniors this year, so we should be a solid veteran team when those guys are eligible to play next year."