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Shepherd men's basketball team seeks balance this season

November 16, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Ken Tyler has relinquished hired guns for a posse.

Over the last few seasons, the Shepherd University basketball coach had one proven scorer to build his team around. Now, as he enters his seventh season with the Rams, Tyler is throwing the scoring option open to everyone who takes the floor.

"Our theme this year is opportunity and balance," Tyler said Thursday during Shepherd's annual media day festivities. "We are sure of our starting lineup, but we don't know who our leading scorer is going to be. We have wonderful balance across the lineup."

In the last six years, the Rams have had a gunslinger to turn to, a proven scorer who averaged in the 20-point range and was a danger as much as a focal point. This year's team doesn't have a Mike Jennings, Yves Moliva or Danley Shank to highlight.

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"We want to be patient in our offense," Tyler said. "We knew every time Danley trotted out on the floor, he was good to hang up 20 and Yves would be close behind. Jennings was good for 30 sometimes. We even allowed them to take shots we didn't really want. This year, we feel the offense has to work for them."

The work starts tonight when Shepherd opens its season as host of the sixth annual Clarion Hotel Tip-Off Tournament and it starts in a big way as the Rams face Barton College - the defending NCAA Division II national champion - at 8 p.m. Tyler and Shepherd officials believe it's the first time a Shepherd team has hosted a national champion in any sport. Bentley and Pfeiffer face off in the opener at 6 with the second round being played on Saturday.

The Rams will attack Barton with two returning starters, a Division I transfer, a junior college transfer and the oddity of a freshman constructing the starting unit on a roster that features no seniors.

The backcourt will feature last year's starting tandem of 6-foot-2 junior point guard Fred Lymas and 6-2 sophomore shooting guard Derek Gallagher. Lymas averaged 7 points and 3.6 assists while Gallagher added 7.3 points a game as Shepherd's top 3-point threat on last year's 16-13 team.

"Fred is the prototypical WVIAC guard. He is long and he has made himself a better shooter. We will be looking for him to score more," Tyler said. "We will be expecting more out of Derek. We would like him to go from a complementary role to asserting himself. We expect both of them to be double-figure scorers."

Liki Turner, a 6-6 freshman from Richmond, has found a home at small forward.

"We targeted Liki early," Tyler said. " I don't generally start freshmen, but he's very versatile both on the inside and outside and is very good at the top of our zone defense."

The inside will be manned by Ian Grady, a 6-5 junior forward transfer from Allegany (Md.) College, and Justin Jarman, a 6-8 junior center transfer from Virginia Military.

Shepherd's backups will feature a local flavor as Duncan Williams and Matt Deaner of Hedgesville and Chambersburg's Jonathan Motichka will work in as reserves. Deaner is ineligible until Dec. 15.

Sophomore Pierrot Bendegue is slotted to be the backup center.

Shepherd enters the season picked to finish sixth in the 16-team West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the preseason coaches poll. It is a good starting point, but is just that, a starting point.

"I feel it is a good placement, but we are not satisfied," Tyler said. "We have some good basketball players. We might not be as deep but we have all-conference talent in our top six or seven players."

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