Finnell scores against Southern Indiana during last season’s
GLVC Tournament championship game in Evansville, Ind. Finnell
averaged 7.5 points per game last season as NKU posted a 24-9
Ky. - Everyone associated with the men’s basketball program
at Northern Kentucky University will always remember the high-flying,
crowd-pleasing performances that Steven Wright put on last season.
the most talented performer in Norse history, earned Great Lakes
Valley Conference Player of the Year honors and first team All-America
accolades in 2006-07 as the Norse posted a 24-9 record. The Bowling
Green State transfer averaged 16.8 points per game and was 62-for-179
from 3-point range in his only season at NKU.
finished with 37 dunks, the second-highest total in school history
and the most ever by an NKU guard. He was later chosen to play in
the NABC Division II All-Star Game and netted 13 points for the
How do you replace
someone like this?
replace Steven Wright, because there aren’t a lot of players
with that kind of ability, talent, unselfishness and desire to win.
He was the complete package in a college basketball player,”
said NKU head coach Dave Bezold, who benefited from Wright’s
explosive talents for one memorable season.
returning players who need to step up their games, and we brought
in some newcomers who will help as well. We lost three outstanding
seniors in Steve, James Cripe (7.8 ppg, 45 blocked shots) and Kevin
Schappell (10.5 ppg). Now it’s time to move forward and allow
this team to establish its own identity.”
guard Billy Finnell (7.5 ppg, team-leading 123 assists) returns
for NKU. The Norse also welcome back forwards Vincent Humphrey (7.5
ppg) and Harrison Morton (6.0 ppg) in 2007-08.
has a great deal of experience at the point, and he has made a lot
of big shots for us the past two years,” Bezold said. “We
need him to become a leader for this team. Vince is such a solid
player who does a lot of little things on the court to help a team
win. He can shoot, rebound and defend. Harrison Morton is an explosive
athlete who could really be an impact player this season. He also
has a lot of experience and has hit big shots many times.”
Mark Hawkins (4.1 ppg), defensive standout David McFarland, point
guard Scott Bibbins and center Travis Rasso also return for NKU,
which won the GLVC East championship last season with a 13-6 record.
Hawkins is a 3-point shooting machine who knocked down 26 treys
tenacious defender and intense competitor, usually draws the toughest
defensive assignment for the Norse. Bibbins played in six games
before suffering a season-ending injury and was granted a medical
redshirt. Rasso, a 6-foot-8 senior, averaged 3.3 points per game.
Morton elevates above two Southern Indiana defenders for a
shot attempt in last season’s GLVC Tournament championship
game. Morton, a senior forward, averaged 6.0 ppg.
of those guys has a certain strength, and we need them to be at
their best every night to be successful,” Bezold said. “There
is plenty of experience in that group, and whomever plays the best
in practice is going to see time on the court.”
NKU hopes to
get a boost from 6-5 senior Anthony Teague (9.2 ppg), who is awaiting
word from the NCAA for another year of eligibility. Teague made
a team-leading 66 3-point shots last season.
in shooting guard Dennis Gagai, a 6-foot-4 transfer from West Virginia
University who averaged 22.4 points per game as a senior at Ironton
(Ohio) High School. He scored a school-record 1,595 career points
as a prep star and earned first team Division III All-Ohio honors
as a senior.
is a good scorer and an outstanding shooter, and we believe he is
going to step in and help us,” Bezold said. “He constantly
works at improving his game, and we are excited to have him in our
Gagai was also
a two-time first team all-district selection by the Associated Press
and the Southeast Ohio District Player of the Year as a senior.
He enrolled at West Virginia and made the team as an invited walk-on
after graduating from high school. He did not play last season and
will have four years of eligibility remaining at NKU.
newcomer could be 6-4 shooting guard Kyle Julius, a transfer who
played at Santa Fe Community College last season and helped the
Saints win the Mid-Florida Conference championship by averaging
8.6 points per game. The previous season, he averaged 16.7 ppg for
Illinois Central College.
is a great outside shooter who will keep defenses honest,”
Bezold said. “He was a very good scorer in high school, and
we think Kyle is going to be a good fit to our program."
NKU also hopes
6-8 Brad Hosler, a transfer from UC-Clermont, can help solidify
the inside game. Hosler averaged 10 points and 12 rebounds last
season at UC-Clermont.
team is totally different than last season, but I expect us to be
in the hunt for our divisional title. There are a lot of good teams
in the GLVC East and the GLVC West. We want to be among them and
have a chance at returning to the NCAA Tournament,” Bezold
NKU opens the
season Nov. 16 against UC-Clermont in the annual John L. Griffin/Lions
Club Classic at 7:45 p.m. The next evening, NKU plays host to NCAA
Division II national power Findlay in a rematch of last season’s
Great Lakes Regional semifinal game.
In that game
at Findlay, Ohio, NKU upset top-seeded Findlay, 60-56, to end the
Oilers’ 59-game home winning streak.
NKU will say
farewell to Regents Hall on Feb. 16, when Indianapolis visits for
a 7 p.m. game. The Norse will move into their new on-campus home,
The Bank of Kentucky Center, beginning in 2008-09. Members of the
1971-72 Norse men’s basketball team, the first in the school’s
history, will be recognized during the final game in Regents Hall
on Feb. 16.
team did not have a home gym in which to play games or practice.