Andrew Riggs / The Collegian
With tip-off right around the corner, the menâ€™s basketball team is working hard and building off of last yearâ€™s 22-10 record and its first postseason appearance in five years.
To kick off the season, the Bulldogs will host exhibition games against Western Washington on Nov. 4 and Fresno Pacific on Nov. 6.
â€œIâ€™m excited to get the season underway,â€ third-year coach Steve Cleveland said. â€œWe have a lot of talent and some new faces this year.â€
With the departure of last seasonâ€™s two top leading scorers, Dominic Maguire and Quinton Hosley, the Bulldogs will rely on transfers Bryan Harvey and Rekalin Sims to make an impact.
Harvey transferred from the University of Louisville, and Sims will join the team from the University of Kentucky â€” both powerhouse programs in college basketball.
Harvey and Sims both sat out last year due to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rule for transfers.
The rule states that college athletes must sit out a year after transferring.
â€œIt was hard sitting out last year,â€ Sims said. â€œIâ€™m ready to help the team and would love to end up in the NCAA tournament.â€
The Bulldogs nearly made the NCAA Tournament field of 64, but instead received a bid to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
The 2006-2007 postseason ended with a loss to the University of Georgia Bulldogs in the NIT first round.
Three senior starters return from last year to help lead the Bulldogs to the postseason.
Those seniors are forward Hector Hernandez, point guard Kevin Bell, who led the conference in assists the last two years and shooting guard Eddie Miller, who led the Bulldogs with 87 three-point field goals last season.
Other returning seniors are forwards Shawn Taylor and Alex Blair, both of whom played a big role for the team last season.
Junior guard Dwight Oâ€™Neal, who redshirted last year, returns as well.
â€œWe had some success last year and hope to continue to move forward,â€ Cleveland said. â€œIt should be an exciting year for the fans.â€