By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
The 2015 men’s basketball season is upon us as Furman hosted North Greenville this past weekend in its only exhibition game of the year, in which the Paladins downed the Crusaders 90-57. Sophomore guard John Davis III led all scorers with 17 points after suffering a concussion a few weeks ago in practice.
The Paladins will tip off the regular season against Presbyterian Nov. 13 at Timmons Arena.
After a tough 2014 regular season, the Paladins showed signs of life after an improbable run in the SoCon Tournament capped by a heart-breaking loss to rival Wofford in the championship game.
“We can’t forget that we finished last in the regular season after our tournament run,” senior point guard Stephen Croone said.
Croone went on to say that the key to this season is to find “what changed between the regular season and the conference tournament.”
With all five starters returning from last year, finding the winning formula should be easier than expected.
The freshman class will also play a big role in the team’s success. “They make practice so much more competitive,” Croone said. “It is the most competitive since I’ve been here.”
Playing in the rigorous Southern Conference, in which Furman was picked fifth by both the coaches and media, the Paladins will get plenty of chances to prepare for tough battles with their even more rigorous non-conference schedule.
The Paladins will travel to Appalachian State (Nov.17), Charlotte (Nov.19), Connecticut (Nov. 21), Dayton (Dec. 19), Navy (Dec. 22) and UNC Asheville (Dec. 29). The Paladins will also travel to Elon, N.C. to compete in the preliminary rounds of the Battle for Atlantis tournament held in the Bahamas.
Croone points to these games as great learning experiences for the Paladins.
“Those games are going to have great atmosphere,” he said. “It can be overwhelming. It will be good for us to experience that type of atmosphere and level of competition.”
The Paladins will also play a number of non-conference games at home. Those include games against Piedmont International (Dec. 1), Liberty (Dec. 8), Gardner-Webb (Dec. 12) and Bluefield College (Dec. 16)
However, Croone notes that that is not the only important aspect to take away from those games.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we have to execute our gameplan, the same routine everyday,” he said. “We are not worried about our schedule. We just focus on us.”