Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 11, 2013

BSC enters men's basketball season 'optimistic'

By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — The 2013 men’s basketball season at Bluefield State College will be an interesting campaign.

After 56 years as a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Big Blues are an independent. More than half of the team’s games will be played prior to the start of the second semester.

Add to that the fact that head coach Jamaal Jackson lost the two leading scorers from last year’s squad — Roy Cooper and Vincent Rogers.

Jackson, however, has accepted the challenge head-on and is ready for the Big Blues to take to the court.

“We are optimistic going into the season. We are much more talented than we were last year,” Jackson said. “On top of that, we have guys that have a year together in the program under their belts, so we are very optimistic.”

Returning for Bluefield State are some playmakers — Treon Claiborne (6’2 Sr.), Joseph Dawkins (6’1 Jr.) and big man Sam Ouedraogo (6’9 Jr.).

“From December on, Claiborne was pretty consistent. Dawkins came on in January. He had a good stretch of three or four games,” Jackson said. “We look for some consistency and stability from both of them this season.

“Sam is back and he is looking excellent in practice. The time he spent with his national team this summer definitely helped him. He is more aggressive, looks more athletic, even looks more solid.”

Ouedraogo, a native of the African country of Burkina Faso, played on his homeland’s national team this summer.

Also returning to the court for the Big Blues this season are Antoine Bryant (5’10 Sr.), Simeon Denny (6’0 Sr.), Avery Holliday (6’2 Soph.), Remar Brothers (6’0 Sr.) and Christian Jugah (6’9 Soph.). Jugah, however, is sidelined with an injury and it is not known at present if he will be able to see action this campaign.

Jackson, entering his third season at the helm of the Big Blues, added several new players to the roster who he hopes will help the team improve its 4-24 record of a season ago.

Dominique Cartier (6’4 Fr.), Shakir Dunning (6’1 Soph.), Adam Copley (6’1 Fr.), Geron Tate (6’6 Fr.), Sergio Smith (6’5 Fr.) and Staccota Dickerson (6’5 Sr.) are new to the program and Jackson expects them to contribute.

“Shakir Dunning is a sophomore guard who transferred in from Kent State. He’s in the starting lineup right now,” Jackson said. “He’s aggressive, very strong and probably one of our toughest defenders.

“Dominique Cartier is a two guard from Columbus, Ohio. He’s a scorer. Staccota Dickerson came in from Wytheville Community College. He’s 6’5, has been playing down in the post.

“We have a freshman, Geron Tate, he can play two or three positions and he’s probably our most athletic player.

“I think everybody on our team will play. Everybody is going to play and this year everybody can play. We recently had an intrasquad scrimmage and our first team toward the end ran away with it, but our first and second teams are pretty even right now.”

The Big Blues play 15 of their 28 games between Nov. 10 and Dec. 18. After the calendar turns to 2014 there are only six home dates for the team.

“We play every other day from Nov. 10th until the 30th. We play nine games in that time. We’re going to be road warriors in November,” Jackson said.

The strange scheduling is a result of the Big Blues being an independent this season.

“Teams don’t want to play non-conference games in January and February, so we have to get games when we can get them,” Jackson noted. “So in November we have nine games. In December we have six games. That’s 15 games, more than half the season in the first semester.”

Asked about the schedule and preparing for different teams, Jackson said it’s no big problem for the players and will prove to be a challenge as a coach.

“From a coaching standpoint it will be exciting because we have to put more work in as far as getting as much film as we can on these teams. We are not as familiar with those teams,” Jackson said. “As far as the team goes, pretty much last year was everybody’s first year, the returners were here one year, so the most they would have seen those (WVIAC) teams is twice. It will pose more work for us as coaches than players. We’re just not accustomed to those teams and we will have to do more scouting work.”

Assisting Jackson this season is former Big Blues player Devontae Royal who is in his second season on the Bluefield State sidelines.

The Big Blues will host Bluefield College in an exhibition, Tuesday night at 7:30 at Ned Shott Gymnasium.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com