Blue Raiders begin official practice Saturday

Ten players return for Middle Tennessee men's hoop

October 13, 2006 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The official beginning of preseason basketball practice is surely old hat to Kyle Young at this stage of his career. After all, the fifth-year senior has been through these four previous times.

One would think there would not be too many changes when you are talking about getting started. A few drills, some team competition, players becoming familiar with the routine, and call it a day, right?

"Every year is new and it's never the same," said Young, whose Blue Raiders hit the court Saturday at 9 a.m. for the first official practice of the 2006-07 season. "At this point you kind of know what to expect but players change and where you are in the program changes. We have more experienced players coming back this season so I would think we should be a little bit ahead at the beginning of practice."

Middle Tennessee fifth-year Head Coach Kermit Davis believes the 2006-07 Blue Raiders are eager to hit the hardwood and get the season underway in earnest. The Blue Raiders return six players - including three sophomores and three seniors - who were instrumental in the team winning eight of the final nine games to secure the No. 2 seed in the East Division going into the conference tournament and that experience should prove invaluable.

The returning nucleus includes seniors Young, Tim Blue, and Adam Vogelsberg, Middle Tennessee's leading scorer and All-SBC selection from 2006-07, along with sophomores Theryn Hudson, Kevin Kanaskie, and Calvin O'Neil.

Davis said the returning players are driven competitors who remember how their season ended - a 58-57 loss to Denver on a buzzer-beater in the opening game of the SBC Tournament.

"We ended with a lot of hurt and disappointment in the conference tournament and that kind of sits with you over the summer," Davis said. "We do have some guys who played key roles during that stretch where we won 8-of-9 going into the conference tournament so I think they are excited about getting out there and getting things started."

In addition to the six veterans returning to the Blue Raider squad, Davis welcomes seven players - four of whom were in the program but taking a redshirt year in 2005-06. Those players are junior Doc Dawson, sophomore Nigel Johnson, and freshmen Darren Avery, Dino Hair, John Hobson, Jay Ivey, and Desmond Yates.

"Last year we had 10 new guys in the program so this year is different from that aspect. We do have some guys who know what to expect and hopefully we will be a good team early because of it," Davis said. "We have had really good offseason practices, especially from a standpoint of gaining weight, increasing strength and conditioning, and I believe those factors should help us to be in better condition for the early practices."

The Blue Raiders will practice once Saturday before starting a series of two-a-day practices that begins Sunday and runs through Tuesday.

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