Aug. 20, 2008
written by: The FSU Sports Information Office
The Fayetteville State Broncos were a few points shy of being crowned the 2007-08 CIAA Champions. After a captivating run for the championship trophy, Head Coach Sam Hanger feels he has the tools to build upon their success last season. The 2007-2008 season concluded with the Broncos finishing 14-15 overall, 8-10 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and meeting Johnson C. Smith University in the CIAA Championship Game. Last year, FSU exceeded all expectations and they plan to go even further this season.
Coach Hanger and his staff are ready to begin a new season and examine how the team gels together. The Broncos foundation begins with three returning starters, seven returning veterans and a large youthful recruiting class - brimming with potential. "We took most people by surprise last year, they'll definitely have an eye out for us this year" says Coach Hanger. "We have a good group of young men, who are not afraid of hard work. We're aware that a certain level of expectation was put in place from last season and now we must continue progressing as we move forward."
The Broncos lost two valuable leaders and scoring threats in Phillippe Harris (18.0 ppg) and Jamel Austin (10.9 ppg). The loss of these two will put pressure on Hanger to quickly supplement that missing offense. "The loss of Phillippe' and Jamel will definitely effect our production," said the seventh year coach. "You can't lose that much offense and not feel the punch. We feel we have retooled in order to be very competitive throughout the season." Senior guard Andy Gebru is expected to provide some offensive firepower from the backcourt this season. Gebru, an All-CIAA selection last season, was the team's second leading scorer averaging 16.9 points per game. Gebru, a 6'4, 200 pound, guard, enters his last go-round in a Bronco uniform and he's poised to be the team leader. Last season he embarked on a milestone, scoring his 1000th career point in his junior season. "We need Andy to be our leader on the court and off," said Hanger. "He has a terrific work ethic and hopefully it will be contagious with this team."
Sophomore Derek Holmes
should prove to be a productive asset in the Broncos line-up this season. Last year was Holmes' first season at FSU. The 6'5 forward was the team's leading rebounder (6.5 rpg) and was selected to the CIAA All-Rookie team.
Returning starter Larry Ross, a 6'7, 215 pound, forward, is expected to have more of a presence in the post this season. He was the Broncos second leading rebounder and averaged close to four points per game. "Ross has been working hard this summer and that's all you can ask from your players in the off season. His hard work will open up more opportunities for him to be successful this season," replied Coach Hanger.
A new recruit that is expected to immediately contribute is transfer guard De'Shaune Griffin (a native of Fayetteville, NC). Griffin is a 6-foot, 160 pound transfer from Iona College. He appeared in 32 games last season for the Gaels, while making nine starts. Griffin averaged 5.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. His 32 three-point field goals was a career-high and ranked third on the team.
Two transfers from Campbell University will be joining the Broncos this season. Ruell Pringle, a 6'2, 190 pound guard from Virginia Beach, VA and Eddie Brown, a 6'9 210 pound forward from St. Petersburg, FL. Pringle was entering his senior year at Campbell just 183 points shy of becoming the 24th player in Fighting Camel history (since 1961-62) to reach the 1,000-point barrier. He already stands eighth in the career books for 3-pointers made (106) and sixth in career three-point attempts (310). Pringle scored in double figures 41 times in 83 career games and he's 73 percent from the free throw line in his career.
Brown only played in the 2007-08 season for Campbell (seven games). "He has some solid low post skills and he has the attitude to want to get better", says Hanger. The coaching staff also found a pair of student-athletes from Brunswick Community College. Travis Foster, a 6'1 165 pound guard from Greensboro, NC and Tavon Waters, a 5'11 160 pound guard from Stantonsburg, NC.
"I feel this incoming class and the veterans have the potential to make an impact right away and that's exciting," Hanger said. "Every one of the players is competitive, driven, and they possess a strong desire to take the program to the next level."
The Broncos will face a rigorous CIAA schedule early this season. However, with this year's recruiting class, the Broncos are preparing to take it to the next step. In order to make the move up, the youth and the veteran must gel early. If the Broncos are able to create an environment of hard work and discipline on and off the court and have a couple of leaders emerge to bring the group together, then they will have the opportunity to build onto their success.