SW Mississippi Ready for 2012 SeasonOctober 30, 2012
by Michael D. Gunnell, Southwest Sports Information
Enthusiasm is high on the Southwest campus as the 2012-13 basketball season approaches. Combining returning players with three Division I transfers and a very capable class of freshman, the Southwest Bears start the season with talk of a MACJC South Division championship and maybe more. For the Lady Bears, a new head and assistant coach has fans hoping for a return to the winning ways of the past.
The Southwest men look to build off last season’s 10-13 overall record and a 5-7 Division record that left them only one game away from a spot in the state playoffs. That finish, along with his current roster, has prompted second-year head coach Casey Carter to say “Our goal is to win the South State championship and, with that, bring the State Tournament to Southwest if we can do it (the winner of the men’s South Division title will host the state tournament). We have a very good chance and it will be fun to watch how it all shakes out.”
Five returnees will play a role in how things shake out for the Bears this season. “Mark Bridgewater (6’ 1”, 180, G-Hammond, LA) will be one of the best returning sophomores in our league,” Carter said, “and is a player who contributes both offensively and defensively for us.”
Bridgewater’s 18.3 points per game led the Bears last season and was one of the top three in the state. He hit 40% of his field goals and was 69% from the free throw line. He capped his season by being named All-Region and First Team All-State.
Carter said Mikel Henry (5’ 9”, 155-G-Hammond, LA) “is a point guard who will bring tons of experience. He has made huge strides on and off the floor since last year.” Henry averaged 5 points last season and was second on the team with 46 assists (2.1 per game).
Of Port Gibson graduate Devin Flowers (6’ 2”, 185, G), Carter said he “is an extremely athletic guard who will contribute in many roles this year. We’re looking for him to have a bigger year.” A injury suffered prior to the season limited Flowers’ playing time, but he was still able to average 4.8 points per game.
“Christopher Lawrence (6’ 4”, 170, F-Crystal Springs H. S.) and Tyree McDonald (6’ 3”, 210, G-Stone Co. H. S.) are guys who will have to contribute as well,” Carter said. Lawrence totaled 4.9 points per game last season while McDonald had limited playing time.
Carter and his assistant, Thomas Gray, were able to reel in three Division I transfers. Of those players, Carter said “The experience gained at that level will have to make us better. All three of these guys will have to be major impact guys for us to be good.”
Deville Smith (5’ 11”, 175-Callaway H. S.) comes to Southwest after a season at Mississippi State University. Carter said he feels Smith “will be the best point guard in our league.”
Of Southeastern Louisiana University transfer Donovan Ross (6’ 5”, 210-Ridgeland H. S.) and UAB transfer Herbert Harrison (6’ 7”, 230-Marietta, GA), Carter said “Ross and Harrison will add a dimension to our team that we didn’t have last year.” Harrison, however, will be out until the end of November due to an injury suffered in pre-season practice. Carter said his team plays “up-tempo” and that he and Gray feel “they did a good job of signing players who fit what we do as a team.”
Carter said “We have been going full speed since August and have come a long way, but we still have a way to go. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re striving to get better every day as a team.”
For first-year women’s head coach Brent Harris, with only three players back from last season’s 3-20 (0-12 squad) early expectations are simple. “I hope we can improve on that (last year’s record). We want to be competitive every night out,” he said. “We will set our goals like a staircase-once we achiever the first goal, then we can talk about the next.”
He said “we want to be in the hunt for the state playoffs and then, hopefully, the region. But, out biggest goal will be to have great practices every day and be better today than we were the day before.”
Harris, who spent the last 10 seasons as an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana University, said the three returnees “have been great and responsive to me. They’ve been solid as a group as far as leaders. Cassie Berry (5’ 9”, F-Terry H. S.) is a good leader on and off the floor. She can help us. She plays in the post, but has perimeter skills. She can be a matchup problem at times.”
“Alexis Avery (5’ 6”, G-Provine H. S.) has shown the ability to knock down a few three’s and makes pretty good decisions with the ball” and “Rebekah Richard (5’ 7”, G-St. Martin H. S., Biloxi) is going to be depended on to be a leader and make a few shots for us.” Berry posted 5.7 points per game last season while Avery was good for 2.6.
Of the freshmen, Harris said “Damiya McCullough (5’ 8”, G-Ridgeland H. S.) is very talented. She is going to play mostly point guard. She is pretty athletic and can score and distribute the ball as well.”
“Fredrikah Wilson (5’ 9”, F-Baton Rouge, LA) is an athletic post player from a really good program (Capitol H. S.). The sky’s the limit (for her). She can play on the perimeter as well. Katrina Littlepage (5’ 6”, G-Slidell, LA) is a very steady player who can score. She’s a very good decision maker. April Levy (5’ 6”, G-Callaway H. S.) is very athletic (and) a good defender. She can score a little as well (and) plays extremely hard.”
Harris said these players, along with the rest of the team, give the Lady Bears “more depth than last year. We will be able to do more things because of that.”
Harris said this edition of the Lady Bears is “going to play very hard. We hope we can be competitive.” He said “we’re undersized and that’s going to be a negative some nights. But, hopefully we can turn it into a positive some nights, too. We’re going to be very versatile. I hope we’re not tied into one style of play and can be smart enough to do a lot of different things.”
Southwest opens the season on November 1 when they travel to Senatobia to take on Northwest Mississippi Community College. Game times are 5:00 for the ladies and 7:00 for the men.
Fans can follow the games live on WAKH 105.7FM (k106) as well as on the internet at k106.net and southwestbearathletics.com. They will also be available on smartphones (download the Tune In app and search for k106).