College basketball season is approaching for Grambling State University and the Tigers are ranked eighth in the Preseason Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Poll.

The Tigers, whose basketball program has been remolded with 10 new players and alterations to the coaching staff, are looking to build off their success of last season.

Last year the Tigers did the unexpected. Not only did they double their win total from the previous year, but head coach Bobby Washington took the G-Men to the SWAC finals in his inaugural season.

“The players understand the expectations that we have from the Grambling community and university,” said head coach Bobby Washington. “Over the past two years our body of work has shown that the program is definitely on a rise in the SWAC.”

After one season there have been numerous changes on the team, with one big change coming in the presence of leadership roles. Coach Williams sees early signs of team leaders in sophomore center Steven Danridge, junior guard Bryant Purvis and junior guard Quincy Roberts, a transfer from St. John who will miss the first half of the season due to NCAA rules. He said they have been very vocal on and off the court.

Leadership is there for the Tigers and it will be needed as they face a tough non-conference schedule, which include match ups against Washington State University, Texas Tech and Louisiana State University.

“We use it (the non conference schedule) as a tool to help us get ready for our conference schedule,” said Williams. “If we could compete with those schools you would think we’d be able to compete with our conference schools. It mentally and physically gets us ready for the SWAC.”

Chemistry is a major issue that’s lacking from the team, being that it’s only four returnees and two of them are injured. The team has not had time to gel together on the court. Coach Washington broke the season down in five portions; the preseason, the season opener (the first six games), the Christmas break (next four games), conference play and post season. He said by the third portion of the season if everyone is healthy then they should be at full strength as far as chemistry is concerned.

Coach Williams brought in a new supporting to cast to help him continue with the revamping of the basketball program. Tae Norwood, former Florida Gulf Coast assistant; Andy Harre, former Clayton State player; and assistant coach and last years starting point guard Rupert Rose, who’s currently acting as student assistant coach is a better fit for the team and the direction it’s trying to go.

“They have really allowed me to not worry about day- to- day operations,” said Coach Washington. “All the small things that people take for granted matters and they do a good job in staying on top of those things. Bringing those guys in has been very good for our program.”

Some positives things Coach Washington notices about the team is that his guys get along well off the court. On the court they are gaining a better understanding of the offense and they are better than he expected defensively. The first game for the Tigers will be on Nov.12, in a match-up against at the University of Houston. Tipoff begins at 7 p.m.

2011-2012 Men’s Basketball Roster (Hometown in Parenthesis)

G #0 Derron Hobbs 6-0 Senior (St. Louis, MO) **

G/F #1 Tyrik Tucker 6-6 Junior (Brooklyn, NY)

G #2 Rondale Livas 5-10 Sophomore (Houma, LA)

G #3 Raschard Boatner 6-0 Senior (Monroe, LA) **

G #4 Xavier Rogers 6-2 Sophomore (Dallas, TX)

G#5 Brandon Dorsett 6-0 Sophomore (Greensboro, NC)

G#10 Quincy Roberts 6-5 Junior (Harrisburg, PA)

G/F#11 Bryant Purvis 6-7 Junior (Trout, LA)

G #20 Roman Higgins 6-3 Sophomore (Grambling, LA)

G #21 David Copeland 6-2 Freshman (Chesterfield, VA)

F #23 Demetri Wheeler 6-5 Sophomore (Hoover, LA)

C #40 Peter Roberson 7-0 Junior (Oklahoma City, OK)

C #42 Steven Danridge 6-8 Sophomore (Dolton, IL)

F #44 Thomas Williams 6-7 Sophomore (Jonesboro, LA)

** Injured players from last year

Coaching Staff

Bobby Washington—Head Coach

Tae Norwood—Assistant Coach

Andy Harre—Assistant Coach

Rupert Rose—Student Assistant Coach

Juilia Collins—Statistician/ Manager

Alyeshia Walton—Manager

Donnika Williams—Manager

Kev Keise
HBCU Buzz Staff Writer