MOREHEAD — With one season under his belt as coach of the Morehead State basketball team, Sean Woods now has experience on his side.
"Last year, everyone was new so they didn't know what to expect," Woods said. "This year, I do have five, six guys that played last year to teach the new guys. ... The system's in place. And when you have veteran guys coming back, it makes it easier.
"I always said when I was in the SWAC, at Mississippi Valley, the teams that won championships were the veteran teams."
Woods' veterans, along with a talented cast of newcomers, get their first test of the season Saturday by playing host to Mid-Continent.
"It's hard to win with freshmen, hard to win with new guys," Woods said. "But I think we have enough older guys to help these new guys along."
The Eagles return eight players, three starters, joined by nine newcomers.
Woods counts guard play and size as team strengths.
"Offensively and defensively, (the guards) have my mentality," the Kentucky "Unforgettable" said.
"Then, our size down low is going to create a lot of problems, especially in the OVC. So (the strength) is a mixture of both. But right now it's guard play. Last year, we didn't have great guard play and we lost five games down the stretch because our guard play wasn't strong enough to finish games. I think this year that won't be the case."
Kareem Storey, a junior transfer from Southern Idaho, will run the point.
"Kareem brings something that you can't teach," Woods said. "He's got that point-guard wit about him. His instincts are incredible. He's got a high-major motor; he's got a high-major play-making IQ. He's tough."
On the wings will be returning starter Angelo Warner and sophomore transfer Brent Arrington. Bakari Turner will see action off the bench.
"Angelo Warner is the real deal, and I'm kind of low-playing it right now," Woods said. "But you don't have the summer and the fall like Angelo Warner has and not expect to have a great year. Angelo Warner is leaps and bounds better than what he was last year, and he's our returning leading scorer. He's a man."
Inside, the Eagles return 6-6 senior Drew Kelly and 6-11 senior Chad Posthumus. Billy Reader, a 6-10 junior transfer, also could work his way into the starting lineup.
Kelly dropped 30 pounds since last season and is listed at 245.
"We want nothing but championships out of this team," Kelly said. "Every team says that, but we really feel like we can do that.
"We do have the tools that can help us do it. We just have to put it together on the court. As far as expectations, we're looking at an NCAA berth. That's what we want as a team."
No. Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown
00 Drew Kelly F 6-6 Sr. Franklin, Tenn.
1 Luka Pajkovic G 6-3 Jr. Belgrade, Serbia
2 Jordan Percell F 6-7 Jr. Campbellsville
3 Corban Collins G 6-3 Fr. High Point, N.C.
4DeAndre LeatherwoodC 6-10 Jr. Germantown, Md.
12 Bakari Turner G 6-4 Sr. Plano, Texas
14 Jared Ravenscraft G 6-2 So. Morehead
15 Kareem Storey G 5-10 Jr. Baltimore
20 Chad Posthumus C 6-11 Sr.Winnipeg, Canada
21 Jalen Courtney F 6-7 Jr. Jackson, Miss.
22 Angelo Warner G 6-2 Jr. Orlando, Fla.
24 Aary Bibens G 6-4 Fr. Bennington, Vt.
25 Karam Mashour F 6-6 Jr. Nazareth, Israel
30 Greg Dotson F 6-5 Fr. Abington, Pa.
31 Lyonell Gaines F 6-6 So. Louisville
32 Brent Arrington G 6-3 So. Halethorpe, Md.
50 Billy Reader C 6-10 Jr.Lake Oswego, Ore.
Nov. 2—x-ST. CATHARINE; 9—MID-CONTINENT, 7; 12—at East Tennessee St., 7; 15—at Xavier, 8; 17—MARSHALL, 2; 19—at Northern Ky., 7; 22—a-at UCLA, 11; 24—a-at Nevada, 6; 28—b-Chattanooga, 5; 29—b-TBA
Dec. 2—WRIGHT ST., 7; 4—at Southern Miss., 8; 15—BOWLING GREEN, 2; 19—SOUTH DAKOTA, 7; 23—at Tennessee, 7; 30—ASBURY, 7
Jan. 2—at SIU-Edwardsville, 8; 4—at Eastern Ill., 3; 11—EASTERN KY., 7:30; 16—SE MISSOURI ST., 7; 18—TENN.-MARTIN, 2; 23—at Belmont, 8; 25—at Tennessee St., 8; 29—BELMONT, 7
Feb. 1—JACKSONVILLE ST., 2; 8—at Eastern Ky., 11 a.m.; 13—at Jacksonville St., 8; 15—at Tenn. Tech, 8:30; 19—AUSTIN PEAY, 7; 22—at Murray St., 8; 27—TENNESSEE ST., 7:30
March 1—TENN. TECH, 7:30; 5—c-TBA
x-exhibition; a-Las Vegas Invitational; b-Las Vegas Invitational (at Orleans Arena); c-OVC Tournament at Nashville
Coach: Sean Woods (15-18 entering his second season at Morehead, 65-98 entering his sixth season overall)
Last season: 15-18 overall, 8-8 Ohio Valley Conference (tied for fourth in East)
What to watch: Morehead, which led the nation in fouls last season, has been working hard to play tough on defense, although fouls will be called tighter this season.
"Move your feet is what Coach Woods keeps on telling us," Drew Kelly said. "He himself said he would struggle with the new rules. ... It's a challenge, but we can't let it affect the way we play defense. We're still planning on being just as aggressive. We just can't foul."
Woods says his team will play more zone defense, mostly matchup, than last year.
He also says he will play 10-11 deep, which will help if fouls do become a problem.
In his self-proclaimed effort to make Morehead the Gonzaga and Butler of the South, Woods has built a challenging non-conference schedule that includes trips to Xavier, UCLA, Tennessee and Nevada, with a pair of neutral-site games at Las Vegas. The Eagles also will travel to Southern Mississippi, coached by Woods' predecessor at Morehead, Donnie Tyndall.
"Every team is different, but I really like this team," Woods said. "They're a joy to coach. They pretty much 'bring it' every day."