Lions look for bounce back year

Men’s head coach Bobby Champagne shows players a play in huddle in a game last season. The Lions will look to bounce back after finishing eighth in the conference last season. 

By Staff Writer Macie Pigg

The North Alabama men’s basketball team finished last season with a 14-15 record after losing to Valdosta State in the opening round of the Gulf South Conference Tournament.

Since then, head coach Bobby Champagne said his team has been working to get better each day and play their best basketball in February and March. They have been focusing on improving in every area, he said.

Champagne said he wants the best from his players.

“We expect our players to be good students, involved in the Shoals community and to do everything to the best of their ability,” Champagne said.

Returning players include seniors Jeff Hodge and Sharwyn McGee, junior Tavaras Tolliver and sophomore Luke Scott.

“All of these players have an understanding of what is expected and how difficult the GSC is in terms of depth,” Champagne said. “We are expecting each of them to make a contribution to the success of our team.”

Champagne has 10 newcomers on his team. These players include freshman and transfers to aid the Lions season.

“This is a very good mix of high school, junior college and Division I transfers,” Champagne said. “Each of them have an opportunity to make an impact on this team in their first season in a UNA uniform.”

McGee, a senior on the team, said he has high expectations for his team this year.

“My expectation for this season is definitely for us to win the GSC and compete at a high level every game,” McGee said. “Some goals we set is to be the number one in the league and be the best defensive team in the GSC.”

McGee also said there have been many changes since last season, mostly due to the new additions on the team.

“We picked up some new guards and two bigs that have size,” McGee said.

This season, Champagne said the team is taking no momentum from last year. He said every season is different from the last.

Champagne also said he does not think much of the pre-season rankings or polls that places his team as finishing seventh in the conference.

“I’m more concerned with where we finish than what someone’s opinion of our team is at this point,” Champagne said.

The men’s team beat Division I South Alabama 82-80 in an exhibition game. The Lions fell in their second exhibition to SEC opponent Ole Miss in its second exhibition game.

The Lions will be in action in Flower’s Hall Nov. 16 against Oakwood.