Bethune-Cookman Basketball to savor some Island Flavor

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Ricky Johnson and Head Coach Gravelle Craig (Photo courtesy: B-CU Athletics.com)

Karsceal Turner – I Got Next!

Ricky Johnson and Head Coach Gravelle Craig (Photo courtesy: B-CU Athletics.com)
Ricky Johnson and Head Coach Gravelle Craig (Photo courtesy: B-CU Athletics.com)

It has been a long, hot summer.  Sporting event junkies have experienced great bouts with withdrawals.  Finally, we are headed into the fall athletic season. For the avid football fan, this means two-a-days, Friday Night Lights, and Saturday collegiate action followed by Sunday afternoon tail-gating.  All these elements.  School for most high schools, and universities in Florida, classes begin in August… not too long after the national holiday on August 1.

This is the reason a piece about Bethune-Cookman men’s hoops is just a tad funny.  Before you chuckle, take a look below the title of this piece (in italics) and you’ll notice the name of the column is I Got NEXT!  It’s more than a basketball term and column moniker…it is a way of life. As a columnist, I’ve expanded it to encompass human interest stories across the Sunshine state.  From time to time, I expand it to make a statement and publicize little known stories of us all.

However, back to Bethune-Cookman Hoops.  WE can thank my good friend, colleague, fellow Wildcat and fellow Leo for the insight on this piece. Dan Ryan, who works in B-CU’s media relations department alerted me to this story.

Island Flavor and international Hoops Goodwill

The Wildcats will leave for Nassau on Tuesday, August 11 with games scheduled against the Bahamas All-Stars on Saturday, August 15 at 3:30 p.m. and against the Athletic Club Bahamas on Sunday, August at 10 a.m., both at the Kendall Isaacs Gymnasium. A third game is being finalized. This is the Wildcats first summer tour since a 2009 trip to Costa Rica.

Teams are allowed 10 officials practices leading up to their foreign tours. Bethune-Cookman will open practice on Tuesday, August 4 and conclude on Monday, August 10.

Trust me, Coach Craig is ecstatic about visiting the islands but is also looking forward to the extra on-court time.  For Coach, it’s all about getting some work in.  Hey, a week in the Caribbean and additional valuable preseason court time in the midst of an island paradise is exactly what the doctor ordered.

“Any time you have a chance to get extra court time, you capitalize,” Craig added. “This team has a lot of potential, and I’m eager to see what we can do.”

In addition, the trip is provides a look at a lot of new faces for the upcoming 2015-16 season. The trip will give the Wildcats their first look at three players (two post players and a point guard), Jordan Potts, a junior transfer point guard, who spent two seasons at UNC-Greensboro; Mario Moody, 6’7” a red-shirt senior who spent time at Wagner University; and LaRon Smith, a 6’8” a paint defense specialist who transferred from Georgia State. All three sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.

“This is a great opportunity for us in all phases,” Craig said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some of our players to play outside the country and it’s a chance for us to come together as a team. We have a strong alumni base in the Bahamas, and I’m looking forward to them coming out to see us play.

Craig wasn’t joking about B-CU’s Island connection.   Bethune-Cookman has approximately 300 alumni from the Caribbean.

The floor general returns

The Wildcats will return senior point guard Ricky Johnson, the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 13.3 points per game last season, Johnson was also excited about the trip.    “Sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone or do something different to get a different result,” Johnson said. “The result we want is to get to the NCAA tournament.”

To help him in the effort, Johnson has a small handful teammates with true floor experience.

The Wildcats finished the 2014-2015 campaign with an overall record of 11-21, they were 7-9 in the Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and finished with a seventh place standing. Hey that’s better than the other six teams in the league. Coach Craig suffered through a rebuilding season so many of those practice players should be ready to step it up in a game.  This trip to the Bahamian paradise can only do wonders for their cohesiveness as a team.

Craig noted that the trip to the island wasn’t a pleasure trip but a business trip.  “This trip will serve as a great opportunity to facilitate some chemistry before classes begin August 17.

The Wildcats will face the likes of two home-grown Bahamian basketball teams including August 19 Real Deal Shockers on Aug 19, the Bahamas All Stars on Aug. 20, and the CTG Knights on Aug. 22. All games to be played in Nassau at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

While the first football game (against Miami) is September 5, before and throughout football season, the basketball team gets its conditioning and participates in “open gym”, where they hone their individual skills before practice legally and officially begins in October.

Traditionally, the first practice of the season has come on October 15, or a corresponding weekend; A new rule implemented in 2013 allows teams to begin practicing at the very start of October.

I’m jealous that I can’t be there to partake of the scenery and see some international basketball action but no worries, I’ll be at open gym when they return to the US mainland. I make myself at Richard V. Moore gymnasium all winter long because I got next!

The Wildcats will leave for Nassau on Tuesday, August 11 with games scheduled against the Bahamas All-Stars on Saturday, August 15 at 3:30 p.m. and against the Athletic Club Bahamas on Sunday, August at 10 a.m., both at the Kendall Isaacs Gymnasium. A third game is being finalized.

Teams are allowed 10 officials practices leading up to their foreign tours. Bethune-Cookman will open practice on Tuesday, August 4 and conclude on Monday, August 10.

 

 

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