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FIRST LOOK - MOCS


E.T.
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FIRST LOOK AT BASKETBALL ... Moccasin basketball fans can get their first look at the 2005-06 squads Tuesday night (Nov. 1) in an exhibition doubleheader at Jenkins Field House.  Coach Tony Longa's squad plays the Orlando All-Stars, a team of former college players, at 7:30 p.m.  The Moccasins

received some bad news last week, when they learned that sophomore Braxton Williams (Cocoa Beach/Cocoa Beach HS) will miss the entire season due to ankle surgery.  Williams averaged 7.2 points per game last season and was second on the team in three-pointers with 26.

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BASKETBALL SEASON GETS UNDERWAY

OVERVIEW

If it can ever be said a team was both “young†and “experiencedâ€Â, then now is the time. The Florida Southern Moccasins feature both and oddly enough those terms can be applied to the same players.

Young? The Mocs will have eight sophomores on their 13-man roster, the most since World War II. They also have just two seniors and no one has been in the program for more than two years.

Experienced? Only one of the 13 players (a walk-on) is a freshman and of the eight sophomores, five were at least part-time starters in their rookie seasons. Two others averaged at least 10 minutes per game and another was a starter last year in junior college.

The combination of youth and experience is an intriguing combination for coach Tony Longa and his staff. It’s one they’re hoping, even expecting, will get them back to the 20-win level they missed last season for the first time in 10 years.

Four starters (including the top two scorers) are gone from that team which finished 17-11, but six lettermen return and all saw significant playing time. However, there’s a strong possibility that the new starting lineup could come entirely from players not on last year’s team. One way or the other, the Moccasins will have a deep talent pool that will challenge not only themselves, but allow them to contend for their 17th Sunshine State Conference title and 22nd trip to the NCAA Tournament.

GUARDS

Nowhere is the depth more evident than the guard position where the Moccasins have four returning players who have been at least part-time starters in the past and two Division I transfers who will all be competing for starting jobs. Considering the Mocs’ traditional three-guard lineup and frequent rotation, all of them will likely see significant minutes whether they’re starting or coming off the bench.

One player looking to re-establish himself is 6-2 sophomore Hurley Dunbar, the 2004 SSC Freshman-of-the-Year. Florida Southern was counting on him heavily last year but a knee injury suffered on the Mocs’ October trip to Costa Rica shelved him for the entire season. Forced to take a medical redshirt, Dunbar could only watch from the sidelines last year but will re-join them on the court this year.

Despite missing the first seven games of his freshman season, Dunbar was the Mocs’ second leading scorer with 10.2 points per game. He helped spark Florida Southern’s turn-around after a 4-3 start that resulted in a conference title and NCAA Tournament berth for the team and Freshman All-American honors for himself.

Dunbar should have plenty of company on the perimeter this year. Fellow sophomores Dominic Girod, Braxton Williams and Garrett Hull all took turns starting at that spot in 2005 and combined to average 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.

The 6-4 Williams was the most frequently used member of that trio, playing an average of 26 minutes per game and starting 14 times. However, a pre-season stress fracture and bone bruise leaves his status for this season up in the air. He was hampered last year by an ankle injury that caused him to miss five games and finish the season with a 7.2 scoring average. Though he was inconsistent at times, Williams led the team to a big road win at Barry and poured in 22 points against Nova SE, the most by a Moccasin freshman in conference play in 26 years. He was also second on the team in 3-point field goals with 26.

Though he played less than Braxton Williams, Girod averaged 8.0 points and shot 43 percent from 3-point range. However, the 6-3 guard was averaging nearly 12 points a game and was the Mocs’ second leading scorer before an injury over Christmas break knocked him out of five games and limited him in several others. That figure more accurately reflects his ability.

Hull is an athletic 6-5 swingman who started three games last year and averaged 3.3 points. As the Moccasins moved deeper into their conference schedule, Hull saw less playing time, but early in the year he was a regular in the rotation and averaged 6.0 points prior to Christmas. The Mocs need Hull to play at that level again and become a dangerous weapon off the bench.

The addition of Savannah State transfer Mark Williams makes Florida Southern even deeper. One of the eight sophomores on the roster, the 6-3 Williams will likely start for the Mocs after leading Savannah State in scoring last year. His 16.6 average was the third highest in the country among Division I freshmen as he scored in double figures in all but two games. He’s a 3-point threat from the perimeter who had seven 20-point games as a freshman.

Junior college transfer Michael Simms will also be given a chance to start and falls into the swingman category so effectively used by the Moccasins. Simms averaged 15 points, four assists and two steals at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois last year. While there he was an all-conference and all-region selection and shot 40 percent from the 3-point arc.

The Mocs lost their All-SSC point guard, three-year starter Ellery Boykin, to graduation. Two players will vie for his position, one a returning letterman and the other a Division I transfer.

The returning player is 6-0 sophomore Allen Gilberry, who was more than just a backup last year. He played nearly 23 minutes a game, started six of them, averaged 4.4 points, and was second on the team in assists with 67.

His challenger is 6-0 senior Dale Parsons, a transfer from Weber State. An honorable mention Junior College All-American prior to that, Parsons averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists as a sophomore at Vincennes (JC) University. He scored nearly 900 points in his junior college career, showing he can score as well as pass.

POST PLAYERS

The Moccasins graduated their top two post players, including All-SSC forward Kenny Ebanyat (12.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 48 blocks). Two veterans and four junior college transfers will attempt to fill that void, led by senior Blake Williams, the only member of the team who’s played more than one season at Florida Southern.

The older brother of Braxton Williams, Blake is a 6-5 forward who averaged 4.2 points and 4.8 rebounds last year. A hard worker on both ends of the court, he’s started 38 games over the past two seasons and performed well with very little attention. When needed, he can also make the big play too, as he did with a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to beat Elite Eight participant Lynn University in early February.

Sophomore forward Arnaldo Abreu played in all 28 games last year with increased playing time later in the season. He was instrumental in a big conference win over Eckerd during that stretch, scored 3.2 points per game and shot 58 percent from the floor.

Two of the junior college transfers should make contributions this year. In fact, Andrei Grant should make them for three years. The 6-7 center from Jamaica is joining the Moccasins as a sophomore after playing just one season at Palm Beach Community College. He averaged 6.1 points and 5.4 rebounds, and his shot-blocking ability (1.7 per game as a freshman) will help ease the loss of Ebanyat and Terence Thomas, two players who excelled in that department for the last three years.

Dwayne Abraham is a 6-8, 230-pound junior center in the mold of another former Moccasin, Jean-Noel Leuly, who evolved into an all-conference center for the Mocs in 2003. Abraham will have the chance to start this year after earning MVP honors at Howard Junior College in Texas where his team fell just short of the NJCAA National Tournament.

Another 6-8 transfer is junior forward Will Graham, who will redshirt this year. A two-time all-conference selection at Seminole Community College, Graham averaged 7.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while leading that school to a conference title in 2005. He finished second in the Florida junior college ranks with a .658 field goal percentage.

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MOCCASINS WIN BIG IN OPENING EXHIBITION

LAKELAND - Blake Williams scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds, two other Moccasins had 13 points and Hurley Dunbar looked strong in his return to lead Florida Southern to a 95-59 win over the Orlando All-Stars.

Playing their first exhibition game of the season, the Moccasins led from start to finish with Williams scoring their first eight points. The senior forward hit a 3-pointer to open the game then came up with a steal and layup to put the Mocs ahead 5-0 just 40 seconds into play. After the All-Stars got on the board with a bucket by David Simon, Williams hit another 3-pointer before forcing another steal that led to a break-away basket by Allen Gilberry and the Mocs' lead was quickly 10-2.

Orlando was within six at the 14-minute mark but consecutive 3-pointers by Gilberry and Dunbar pushed Southern's lead to 12 and into double digits for the rest of the night.

By the end of the first half, Williams already had 12 points and seven rebounds and Dunbar had come off the bench to go three-for-four from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and eight points. The Moccasins were ahead 48-31 and cruised through the second half for their final margin.

Williams finished the game seven-for-eight from the floor and also had four assists and two steals. Gilberry went six-for-10, scored 13 points, and had four assists with four steals, while junior college transfer Michael Simms also had 13 points.

Dunbar was playing his first game in over a year after a torn ACL on the Mocs' trip to Costa Rica in October of 2004 forced him to redshirt last season. The sophomore guard showed no ill effects, coming off the bench for 12 points, nine rebounds, a team-leading six assists and four steals in 23 minutes.

Garrett Hull also scored in double figures for Florida Southern with 11 points.

Florida Southern dominated the boards with Dwayne Abraham pulling down a game-high 11. The Mocs out-rebounded Orlando 61-40 with 25 of those coming on the offensive end. They held a 35-16 edge in the second half as they steadily wore down the All-Stars. In addition to Abraham's total, four other Moccasins had nine rebounds.

The Mocs also forced 22 turnovers, leading to 37 points. The All-Stars also shot just 36 percent from the floor.

Three Orlando players scored in double figures, led by Matthew Thys who had 15 points and seven assists. Eric Dean added 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Junior Allen also scored 13.

Florida Southern will play its final exhibition game on Thursday, November 10 when it hosts another all-star team of former collegiate players from Tampa Bay.

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Published Friday, November 4, 2005

LOCAL COLLEGES

FSC Basketball: M. Williams Quits

By Rick Brown

The Ledger

The Florida Southern men's basketball team got some bad news when sophomore transfer guard Mark Williams quit the basketball team.

Williams, a 6-foot-1 guard from Sebring, had transferred from Savannah State University and was expected to start.

Williams averaged 16.6 points as a freshman for Savannah State last year, the third-highest in the country for a freshman at the Division I level.

Yet after taking a week away to contemplate his options, Williams decided not to return.

"I think he was struggling in some areas and because of those struggles, he did not have the passion and drive to give 100 percent to being a college basketball player this season," said FSC coach Tony Longa.

"I think he was struggling fitting in in all areas. We were hoping to guide him through this. We were not for this (Williams quitting).

"He came from a program that was 0-28, that was in a complete state of chaos and turmoil, a program that probably did not have the level of structure and organization and accountability that we have," Longa said. "I think that was a tough adjustment to come into."

Despite Williams' departure and with Braxton Williams likely out for the season after ankle surgery, the Mocs should still be in decent shape numbers-wise on the perimeter.

"It's disappointing but it allows other players time to step up," Longa said.

"It was going to be hard to spread minutes among seven perimeter players that are all pretty talented."

In other basketball news, one player will return to the FSC lineup but two others will temporarily depart.

Guard Dale Parsons was suspended for the exhibition opener for violation of team rules but he is expected to play in the next exhibition game Thursday.

Meanwhile, Hurley Dunbar will miss Thursday's exhibition game for violation of team rules, while Garrett Hull will miss the season opener Nov. 15 for violating team rules.

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BASKETBALL TEAMS SET FOR SECOND EXHIBITION GAMES ... Both FSC basketball teams

will look to win their second exhibition games this week.  The men's team plays

the SEBA All-Stars, a team of former college players, Thursday night at 7:30

p.m. at Jenkins Field House.  The Lady Mocs travel to Deland Saturday for a 2:00

p.m. exhibition game against Stetson. The men's roster is down to 10 active

players, as transfer Mark Williams and freshman Brian Hoben have decided to

leave the team.

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CALLING MEN'S BASKETBALL ALUMS ... Any men's basketball alums interested in attending or playing in the Moccasins' Dec. 3 exhibition game at Jenkins Field House should contact head coach Tony Longa at 863-680-4252 or at tlonga@flsouthern.edu.

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MOCS SPRINT TO 111-104 VICTORY IN FINAL EXHIBITION

LAKELAND - Dale Parsons scored 28 points, handed out 13 assists and had six rebounds in his Moccasin debut, and three other Moccasins also scored in double figures as Florida Southern ended the pre-season with a 111-104 victory over the SEBA All-Stars.

Parsons, a transfer from Weber State, sat out the Mocs' first exhibition game but was explosive in the second. The senior from Toronto started the night with a 3-pointer on the Mocs' first possession and by the end of the first half had 10 points and 10 assists to stake them to a 50-45 lead.

The Moccasins trailed by as many as 11 midway through the first half but outscored SEBA (the Southeast Basketball Academy) 24-10 during one five-minute stretch that gave them a 43-40 lead. Michael Simms scored 11 of his 14 points during that run to spark the rally.

The Mocs' lead fluctuated between two and nine for the first 10 minutes of the second half before the All-Stars went on a 12-2 run that gave them a 75-74 lead with 8:15 remaining. It was sparked by 3-pointers from former Moccasins Cedric Powell and Mike McManamey.

Florida Southern still trailed 77-76 with just over seven minutes to play when a technical foul against the All-Stars gave the Mocs a four-point possession and the lead for good. Parson hit the two technical foul shots before Dwayne Abraham added two more. A turnover on SEBA's next possession led to two more Parsons free throws and a five-point Southern lead.

SEBA eventually got back within two and had cut the Mocs' lead to 90-88 with 4:55 remaining before the Mocs went on an 8-0 run with Parsons, Blake Williams and Allen Gilberry all converting field goals and Parsons adding two more free throws. SEBA quickly got it back to a four-point deficit on a 3-pointer by Nick Railsback and three free throws by Kevin Perry but could get no closer the rest of the night. Parsons hit a big 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven before the Moccasins went eight-for-eight from the line in the final minute to seal the game.

Parsons finished the night eight-for-15 from the floor and four-for-seven from 3-point range. He also converted eight of nine free throw attempts. Two of the Mocs' other transfers had big nights as well with Abraham scoring 18 points and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds, and Simms scoring 14 points with seven boards.

Gilberry also scored in double figures for Florida Southern with 17 points and handed out six assists.

Florida Southern shot 57 percent from the floor and 76 percent (25-for-33) from the line and forced 20 turnovers. However, the Mocs also turned the ball over 23 times themselves in a game that often resembled a track meet. Blake Williams had six steals for Florida Southern to go along with eight points, six rebounds and four assists.

SEBA had four players in double figures with Kevin Perry leading all scorers in the game with 39 points. The former Norfolk State star was 12-for-23 from the floor, four-of-nine from behind the arc and 11-for-12 from the line. McManamey scored 16 points and four 3-pointers against the team for which he set the career 3-point record. Railsback, who is second to McManamey in career 3-pointers at Florida Southern, scored 10 for the All-Stars as did another former Moccasin, Cedric Powell.

Florida Southern opens the regular season Tuesday night at home when its hosts Florida Memorial at 7:30.

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Published Friday, November 11, 2005

Parsons, Abraham Lift Mocs

By Rick Brown

The Ledger

LAKELAND -- Florida Southern head basketball coach Tony Longa expected his team to shoot better this season.

On Thursday, he got a strong indication of just how good in his team's final exhibition game.

Senior transfer guard Dale Parsons scored 29 points and added 13 assists in his FSC debut and the Mocs shot 60 percent in a 111-104 exhibition game victory over the SEBA AllStars at Jenkins Field House.

FSC opens the regular season Tuesday at Jenkins against Florida Memorial.

Parsons, a senior transfer from Weber State, did not play in the opening exhibition game because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.

He made up for it on Thursday by connecting on 8-of-15 shots, including 4-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line.

"I hope to bring a little bit of everything -- scoring, leadership -- and make this a successful season," Parsons said.

He had help. Dwayne Abraham scored 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Allen Gilberry had 17 points and six assists and Michael Simms added 14 points, and seven rebounds for FSC.

Kevin Perry scored a gamehigh 39 points for SEBA. Former FSC players Mike McManamey (16 points), Cedric Powell (10 points) and Nick Railsback (10 points), along with former Bartow High standout LaDarion Jones (nine points, seven rebounds) helped keep SEBA close.

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