JACKSON, Tenn. - 10/20/2008 - The Union University Bulldogs are looking forward to a strong year coming into 2008-09 season. They are returning three starters, including All-American seniors Matt Neaville (below) and Brian Lake (right) and sophomore Roland Banhoro. Also returning to this year’s team are juniors Keith Tolliver and Tacuma Alexander, both of which recorded starts for Union in 2007-08, racking up valuable experience.
A strong senior class leads the way this year for the Bulldogs. Guard Matt Neaville, who led the NAIA in scoring and three-pointers made per game, averaging 24.3 points per game and five three-pointers per contest. Neaville also set new school records for three-pointers in a game with 11 and three-pointers in a season with 153. Brian Lake also returns for his senior year as a Bulldog after leading the TranSouth Conference with 14 doubles-doubles last year. Head coach Ralph Turner, now in his 15th season with the Bulldogs, says, “Matt and Brian are one of the best 1-2 punches in the country.”
This year’s junior class sports three experienced returners and two junior college transfers. Tacuma Alexander and Keith Tolliver, both guards, add valuable experience for the Bulldogs. Alan North also returns to the Bulldogs for his junior year after sitting out last season with an injury. Greg Truvillion comes to the team this year as a transfer from Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College. Also joining the Bulldogs to complete his college career is Martez Hawkins, a guard from Marshalltown (Ill.) Community College.
Roland Banhoro leads the sophomore class, which returns three players for the Bulldogs this year. Antoine Joseph and Veljko Petrovic also return for their second season as Bulldogs.
The freshman class boasts three solid additions in Allante’ McLemore, Samuel Danache, and Luke Allison to complete the 2008-09 roster.
Coach Turner, along with associate head coach Dave Niven, now in his 12th season with the Bulldogs, has high expectations for this year’s team. Turner says, “I’m excited about this season. With the experience we have returning and the key recruits picked up, we will be poised make a strong run at the national championship. Our non-conference schedule is the toughest in the country, and come March we will be ready to compete.” He then adds, “This year’s team has one of the best returning groups In my 14 years as coach at Union.”
Union looks to return to the NAIA National Tournament this season. Last year, Union barely missed the national tournament for just the second time in the past 11 seasons, and the first absence since 2003. Union has participated in 11 national tournaments, recorded their best finishes in 1999 and 2007 when they advanced to the quarterfinals.
Union also strives to return to the top of the TranSouth Conference. In the 12-year history of the conference, Union has won five conference regular season titles. Union has also played in seven of the league’s 12 conference tournament title games, winning five times.
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