11/09/05 — A new 'hunger' for Trojan mens' basketball

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A new 'hunger' for Trojan mens' basketball

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 9, 2005 2:07 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- With season-opening games just nine days away, the Mount Olive College men's and women's basketball teams can hardly wait for the first jump ball of 2005-06.

The fans can't wait, either.

The teams tip off their respective campaigns on Nov. 18. The men entertain conference rival Lees-McRae in opening-round play of the 40th annual Pickle Classic. The Trojan women face Converse (S.C.) College in a two-day tournament at USC-Aiken.

Mount Olive experienced its most-successful men's season a year ago. The Trojans tied Pfeiffer for the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference regular-season title and eventually emerged the NCAA Division II East Regional champions. They lost to national runner-up Bryant University in the Elite Eight.

Coach Bill Clingan's team set numerous school records, including regular-season wins (29) and regular-season CVAC wins (18).

Based on last season's success, the Trojans have received regional and national attention in the preseason. They're ranked No. 5 in Street and Smith's top-10 poll and stand No. 7 in the NCAA Division II Bulletin.

CVAC coaches have tabbed Mount Olive the league's preseason pick to claim the league crown. The Trojans received eight first-place votes, compared to three for three-time defending CVAC champ Pfeiffer -- which is ranked No. 9 by Street and Smith.

Four starters and eight letter-winners return for Mount Olive. Among the group is Williamston native Elton Coffield, who has been named a preseason All-American candidate by Street and Smith, and the NCAA Division II Bulletin. Coffield earned East Regional MVP honors last season and a spot on the first-team, all-CVAC squad.

Clingan appreciates the preseason recognition, but quickly warned this team hasn't taken a shot, free throw or won a game. He said the Trojans must "digest" what happened last season and return to the court with a "new hunger" for 2005-06.

Meanwhile, veteran women's coach Wendy Lee faces the task of replacing three starters and the loss of 10 letter-winners. The Trojans' roster has seven freshmen, two junior college transfers and just one senior -- Teneal Boone.

Boone reached double figures in points and/or rebounds in 16 of 28 games last season, including seven double-doubles. The Jacksonville native posted a season-high 19 points against UNC Pembroke and had four 12-rebound games.

The Trojan women enjoyed a strong 6-0 start against CVAC opposition and earned a No. 7 ranking in the Atlantic Region poll. They lost considerable momentum, but finished with a program-best 12 regular-season wins, including nine victories in the CVAC.

Lee and Clingan mentioned goals for their respective teams and they each share one -- returning home for the season-ending CVAC Tournament. Mount Olive will host the semifinals and finals March 3-4 with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.