Monty Wilson thinks that the Georgetown men's basketball team is better now than last year.
Whether that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents remains to be seen. The Tigers open their season Tuesday against visiting Miami University-Hamilton.
Just the possibility of a better team should catch attention, though. Georgetown, after all, is the NAIA defending national champion.
"I think we're obviously a little better than last year," said Wilson, the Fab Four MVP. "We're deeper, just minus Vic."
Vic Moses, a 2,000-point scorer and rebounding machine, now plays pro ball in England.
"We've got a lot more players," said Wilson, a 6-foot-4 senior. "We went to the national tournament with like seven guys, and this year we've got like 13 deep that can all start, so we've looking pretty good."
In addition to Wilson, returnees include 6-9 senior Montavious Marc, 6-8 sophomore Deondre McWhorter and 6-3 fifth-year senior Russ Middleton.
"That's a good possibility," Middleton said when asked if he agreed these Tigers are improved. "We're probably not as big — we lose Vic — but these new guys coming in are fast, are quick. We have depth."
Three newcomers with the best chance to crack the starting lineup are 6-2 junior Dominique Hagans, 6-7 junior Jaylen Daniel and 6-3 sophomore Noah Cottrill. Trenity Burdine, a 6-6 junior, also could see quality minutes.
"We've got a lot of fresh faces that I'm excited about," third-year coach Chris Briggs said. "I'm looking forward to watching this team grow as we progress in the season and watching them develop. And hopefully they'll develop that same championship-seeking attitude, that will be contagious and everybody will stay on the same page."
Briggs is especially hopeful that Hagans and Daniel work out since they are backyard products. Hagans is a Lafayette graduate who comes over from Southeastern Illinois College. Daniel, from Winchester, first went to Angelina College.
"I try to bring a lot of speed and quickness, and just try to facilitate and get everybody involved," Hagans said.
"He can get from one end to the other as fast as about anybody I've seen," Briggs said, "and a really good kid, really fun to coach. ... Many are familiar with (Daniel) around here, with long, athletic wings. He's got long arms, really athletic, playing that two-three and maybe even four spot some if we go small and press like we plan to do."
Georgetown has long been a premier opponent in the Mid-South Conference, but the bull's-eye is bigger than ever with a national title in tow.
"We feel like we had a target on our back last year," Wilson said. "After winning it, it's just got even bigger. But we've got a great team and I feel confident in each and every one of our guys."
Mascot: TigersConference: Mid-South
Coach: Chris BriggsLast season: 28-8 (14-6 MSC)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
1 Bopper Stenzel G 6-1 Fr. Winchester
2 Trenity Burdine G-F 6-6 Jr. Reading, Pa.
3 Monty Wilson G 6-4 Sr. Decatur, Ill.
4 Jaylen Daniel G-F 6-7 Jr. Winchester
11 DJ Townsend G 5-11 So. Morehead
12 Justin Brunswick F 6-10 Jr. Middletown, Ohio
13 Michael Walker G 6-1 Jr. Lexington
14 Corey Washburn F-C 6-8 Jr. Mt. Washington
15 Joe Caldwell F 6-5 Jr. Conyers, Ga.
20 Noah Cottrill G 6-3 So. Logan, W.Va.
22 Russ Middleton G 6-3 Sr. Maysville
24 Dominique Hagans G 6-2 Jr. Lexington
34 Terrence Boyd G-F 6-5 Sr. Vallejo, Calif.
35 Deondre McWhorter F 6-8 So. Louisville
42 Montavious Marc F-C 6-9 Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
Oct. 29—Miami (OHIO)-Hamilton
Nov. 1—SALEM INTERNATIONAL; 5—IND.-SOUTHEAST, 7; 9—MIAMI (OHIO)-MIDDLETOWN, 6; 15—a-TBA; 16—a-TBA; 21—CUMBERLANDS, 8; 26—MARTIN METHODIST, 7; 30—CINCINNATI-CLERMONT, noon
Dec. 2—at Life, 5; 14—at Martin Methodist, 1; 29—MIAMI (OHIO)-HAMILTON, 2
Jan. 2—SHAWNEE ST., 8; 4—RIO GRANDE, 4; 9—at Campbellsville, 8; 11—at St. Catharine, 4; 16—PIKEVILLE, 8; 18—BLUEFIELD, 4; 23—at Cumberland, 9; 25—at Lindsey Wilson, 5; 30—at Rio Grande, 8
Feb. 1—at Shawnee St., 4; 6—ST. CATHARINE, 8; 8—CAMPBELLSVILLE, 4; 13—at Bluefield, 8; 15—at Pikeville, 4; 20—LINDSEY WILSON, TBA; 22—CUMBERLAND, 4; 27—at Cumberlands, 4
a-Central Bank Jim Reid Classic; b-MSC Tournament at Cumberland
Coach: Chris Briggs (54-17 at start of third season)
Last season: 29-8, 14-6 for third in Mid-South; NAIA national champion
What to watch: "I think we have a good core back from last year, guys who know what it takes to win," Briggs said. "Guys who have been through the battles and know how tough our conference is and then, obviously, have had success in the post-season. I like our returners a lot. I think we've added some good newcomers. I think we'll be really athletic and we'll try to get in passing lanes a little more than last year, try to get up and down the floor. Obviously, that's the way we want to play — up-tempo, score a lot of points and hang our hat on our defense in the half-court. But we want to get in passing lanes and make sure we're using our length. We have some guys that are at the small forward and shooting guard position that have long arms and are really athletic. So we want to get those guys out in the open floor where they can have some fun, but that starts with defense."
The Tigers boast a deep roster, but it starts with returnees Monty Wilson, Montavious Marc, Deondre McWhorter and Russ Middleton, plus newcomers Dominique Hagans, Jaylen Daniel and Noah Cottrill. The latter is a transfer from West Virginia Wesleyan. "He can really pass," Briggs said. "He's a really crafty, really smart, heady point guard and kind of a change-of-pace from Hagans. Hagans is fly-by. Noah's more of a play off ball screens, read the defense."
Georgetown is the favorite in the pre-season coaches poll to win the Mid-South Conference.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.