JACKSON, Tenn. - 10/31/2007 - The Union University men’s basketball team has been ranked as the No. 19 team in the NAIA Men’s Basketball Preseason Polls. Union finished in second place in both the TranSouth regular season and tournament last season. The Bulldogs also matched their best finish in the NAIA National Tournament with an Elite Eight finish.
Union has also recently been selected to finish third in the TranSouth Preseason Poll. Last season, the Union Bulldogs advanced to their seventh TranSouth Tournament Title game in the 11-year history of the conference. Of those seven trips, Union has won five times (1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006).
On Saturday Nov. 3, Union opens the season versus the No. 10 ranked Campbellsville Tigers for Homecoming at Union’s Fred DeLay Gymnasium.
Of the 10 non-conference games (first 10 games of the season), Union plays seven games versus teams ranked in the NAIA’s Top-25 and one more game versus the No. 27 team. Also, Union plays in a tough TranSouth Conference that featured two teams (Union and Crichton) in the NAIA Elite Eight last season and five team at least receiving votes in this year’s preseason poll (Crichton, Lambuth, Union, Trevecca Nazarene, and Martin Methodist).
The 2007-08 season for the Union University men’s basketball team will have a much different look that the last season’s squad. Union graduated five players, including 56 of the team’s 83 points per game last season. Several newcomers will get the opportunity to play and contribute immediately along with the five returners that helped Union advanced to their second NAIA National Tournament Elite Eight in the program’s history.
The returning junior class is made up of Brian Lake and Tony Brown. Lake finished third on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game, which was good for second. He also led the team with 62 made three pointers for 35-percent. Brown returns to the squad after missing the final nine games of the season. Brown posted 11.2 points and 4.0 assists per game.
Tacuma Alexander and Brandon Lay return as sophomores. Alexander didn’t see much playing time early in the season, however, due to a depleted roster, he started the final 17 games of the year. For his efforts, he earned TranSouth All-Freshman honors and proved to be a very valuable guard for the Bulldogs. Lay joined the team in late February and has worked hard to earn his spot on this year’s team.
The newcomers will come in with a lot on their shoulders. Leading the way is junior college All-American Matt Neaville. Neaville, a junior this season, set the junior college record with 17 made three pointers in a game and was fourth in the nation last season with 26 points per game. Sophomore Keith Tolliver earned his spot this season as a walk-on after working out with the team last season in valuable practice time. Three new freshmen will also look to make an early impact. Antoine Joseph, Veljko Petrovic, and Roland Banhoro each join Union as international players who are athletic and will continue to improved as college basketball players.
Following those ten games to open the season, the Bulldogs step into the tough TranSouth Conference season. Last season, three teams (Union, Crichton, and Lambuth) advanced to the national tournament with Union and Crichton making the Elite Eight.
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