The LeMoyne-Owen College Magicians are traveling the area in preparation for their upcoming season.
LOC started the preseason with a 120-66 loss to the University of Memphis Tigers. Head Coach William Anderson, now in his ninth season with the Magicians, has only three returning players and 12 new players.
This year’s team has a very local flavor featuring six players who played high school hoops here in Memphis: Seniors Jerry Hurt and Martez Briggs (Overton); junior Tyrone Banks (Southwind); sophomore Torreious Carwell (BTW); junior Tangelo Harris (Trezevant); junior Toriano Stokes and freshman Derrick Craig (Cordova).
“It varies from year to year,” Anderson said. “Some years we get an influx of local talent. Some years we are not able to get as many. We are glad to have the guys from Memphis here.”
Last season, the Magicians (10-18, 5-14 SIAC) got away from the brand of basketball the team was known for, a style that former head coach Jerry Johnson perfected. Anderson wants to get back to that brand of basketball and hopes the team can score some early wins.
“We are going to play our brand of basketball,” he said. “We are going to get back to the basics. We will be playing the Magicians’ way. We will take it one game at a time. We will focus on winning the West and getting a better seed in the tournament so we can make a long run in it.”
Anderson scheduled exhibition games against Memphis and Arkansas-Little Rock to get his team used to playing in hostile environments. In the opening exhibition game against the Tigers, the crowd was nearly as large as the total attendance for all of the games the Magicians played last season.
“We are using these exhibition games to work out the kinks,” he said. “We are playing tougher competition in the Division I opponents. We will be able to point out a lot of mistakes and things guys get away with in practice.
“A lot of fundamental mistakes they make in practice, they are not going to be able to make those in the games,” he continued. “So they will see it for themselves and hopefully it will sink in when play in our division.”
LeMoyne-Owen lost its top five scorers from last season. Four of them were double-digits scorers. Briggs is the top returning scorer (7.4 ppg) and rebounder (4.8 rpg). Sophomore Jaquan Lawrence (5.8 ppg/4.2 rpg) also returns for the Magicians.
The tradition and support from former players and alumni is very strong. The team usually has a “madness” event as well as an alumni basketball game. This year, the two were combined to have a “Magicians Madness” event to introduce the school and the alumni to the new team.
Anderson will rely heavily on his returning players to help his squad learn his system and develop chemistry.
“We have put in a couple of new things, but for the most part they are learning our system,” he said. “They understand what we expect. We are starting to jell.”
On Nov. 1, the Magicians are set to play their second exhibition game in Little Rock. He’s hoping his team can take lessons away from the University of Memphis loss, a 120-66 blowout.
“The defensive pressure that (Memphis was) able to apply, we want to use that same type of pressure when we play,” he said. “Our guys will understand what type of defensive intensity we want them to play.
“Secondly, we want to speed teams up like Memphis sped us up,” he added. “At the same time, when we do speed up, we want to be able to execute our offense and take care of the basketball.”
The Magicians will tip the regular season off on Nov. 9 at 7:30 pm in Rome, GA when they take on Shorter University. LOC will also play on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. against Union University as part of the Conference Challenge. The women’s basketball team take on Jackson State on Nov. 7 in Memphis.