Cougars mean business
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on December 28, 2006 1:48 PM
The Goldsboro Cougars will again have the opportunity to see how they measure up against some of the top teams -- and players -- in the 35th annual Glaxo-SmithKline Invitational held today and Friday at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.
It's the second straight season that Goldsboro has participated in the prestigious tournament, which fields talented teams from around the country.
"We're honored to be in it for the second straight year," Goldsboro coach Randy Jordan said. "It's a real testament to our coaches and players. We're hoping to go up there and make a good showing."
The 9-2 Cougars will open play today at 4 p.m. when they face Southern Durham. Goldsboro with then face either Starmount or Knightdale, depending on the outcomes on today's games, on Friday.
Last season, the Cougars had a rough experience in the invitational, losing to Seattle Prep and Phoebus (Va.) High School.
"The kids kind of feel like they let two slip away from them last season," said Jordan, whose team narrowly lost to Seattle Prep 48-43. "We were kind of star-struck over the other teams."
There will be plenty of stars on the court this season too as Goldsboro will see in game one when it takes on Southern Durham. The Spartans lineup features 6-foot-9 Julian Gamble -- rated as the fourth best player in North Carolina -- who recently committed to the University of Miami.
Victor Davila of Starmount -- a potential second-round opponent -- is another top talent in the tournament. The 6-foot-7 forward is being heavily recruited by a bevy of Division-I schools.
Despite the big names, Jordan doesn't anticipate his team becoming "star struck" again.
"This season the kids are preparing differently," Jordan said. "They have a different mindset -- a business approach to the tournament."
Goldsboro will bring their own stars to the tournament with McDonald's All-American candidates Daquan Joyner and Tim Kornegay. Both players were named to the Glaxo-SmithKline all-tournament team last season.
Joyner -- an East Carolina signee -- ranks second on the Cougars in scoring, averaging 13.8 points and leads the team in rebounds (9.3) and blocks (4.1) per game.
"It's going to be another good learning experience," Joyner said.
Kornegay has been a force on offense and defense this season. In addition to his team-leading 19.3 points per game, Kornegay has been a defensive stopper in Goldsboro's full-court press, generating turnovers for the Cougars defense.
The talented duo won't be alone as the Goldsboro lineup features a crew of dangerous weapons.
Seniors Burnie Best (2.8 steals per game) and Eric McLean (4.1 assists) anchor the backcourt, giving Goldsboro two veteran ball handlers as well as two more proven scorers.
"The impressive thing for us is that we've got six guys averaging between six and nine points a game which means, on any given night, any of them can go for 15-20 points," Jordan said. "It makes us hard to defend."
The Cougars enter the tournament on a hot streak, having won eight of their past nine games and are averaging nearly 77 points per game while giving up just 56.6 on the season.
Goldsboro now hopes its past tournament experience and veteran talent translates into success during this season's event.
"Hopefully, we'll be rewarded with couple of wins," Jordan said.
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