Nov. 7, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, NC -- Alphonza Kee has a luxury of sorts. The fifth-year Fayetteville State head coach returns eight players from last year's team, including four of five starters.
Kee hopes that experience lends itself to more victories in 2013-14. The season starts Friday at 5 p.m. against Concord University at the Winston Salem-State University Invitational. The Mountain Lions went 16-11 a season ago.
The Broncos won just nine of 26 games last year, though 11 of their defeats came by 10 points or less. If everything goes according to plan, the familiarity in the rotation will lend itself to better results in close contests.
"One thing you can't rush and you can't supplement is experience," Kee said. "As you grow, life and basketball, those guys have seen a lot of scenarios. They've seen a lot of things that they didn't get done. I think it'll be beneficial to the current success, those players' experiences.
In total, nine upperclassmen make up the Broncos roster and three of the returning starters will begin the season in the lineup, eager to improve upon last year's win total.
Tyrrel Tate, a 6-foot-5 senior from Raleigh, led the team in scoring last year with 16.1 points per contest. A 34-percent 3-point shooter, Tate figures to be dangerous when left unguarded from beyond the arc. Tate also hauled in 6.3 rebounds per game last season, tops on the team.
"He should be one of the best in the league," Kee said. "He's a player of the year candidate to me. There's no doubt about it."
Anthony Shelton, a junior guard from Cary, saw more minutes than any Bronco a year ago. Like Tate, he is a threat from 3-point range. Shelton was 59 of 164 in 2012-13, a 36-percent clip that ranked best on the team. Defensively, he recorded 32 steals, second best on the squad.
, a 6-foot-10 center from Fayetteville, was the most proficient shooter when he got his attempts. Nobody shot better than Craft's 53.8 percent. Craft also collected 5.9 rebounds per game.
, a freshman from Kinston with state championship accolades, will get the starting point guard duties.
"He's come from a winning tradition, long winning tradition," Kee said. "He was a guy that was an underclassman at the point guard (in high school). He was a starting point guard for a championship team as an underclassman."
Torian Showers, a junior forward from Dublin, Ga., rounds out the starting rotation.
The Broncos will participate in two invitationals this season. In the season-opening WSSU Invitational, Fayetteville State plays Concord and Notre Dame (OH). On Nov. 15 and 16, the Broncos travel to Augusta, Ga., for the Paine Classic and dates against Paine and Albany State.
Fayetteville State has non-conference contests against UNC Pembroke, Virginia-Lynchburg, Brevard and Virginia Union. The Broncos also play Barber-Scotia twice and have an exhibition date with Division I school East Carolina University on Dec. 3.
The Broncos play defending CIAA champion Bowie State on Jan. 13 in Bowie, Md.