By Charlie Howard
The men’s basketball season came to an abrupt end on Friday evening with an 81-76 loss to UNC-Greensboro (UNCG) in the opening round of the SoCon Tournament.
“My hat’s off to UNCG. I have to give them a lot of credit,” head coach Scott Padgett said. “They did a great job of switching every pick-and-roll that we had and it put our guards in situations where they had to finish over a bigger guy.”
Freshman guard Christen Cunningham hit a jumper with 24 seconds left in regulation to cut UNCG’s lead to 78-76, but the Bulldogs couldn’t manage to take the lead in the game’s waning seconds. Junior guard Darius Jones-Gibson led the ‘Dogs in scoring with 19 points. UNCG’s Diante Baldwin matched Jones-Gibson with his own career-high 19-point performance.
In Scott Padgett’s inaugural season, the team finished 13-19 overall with a 6-12 SoCon record. Although the team had eight newcomers, the ‘Dogs posted some impressive performances this season.
Jones-Gibson, junior guard Marcus Johnson and junior forward Jamal Shabazz all impacted the team immediately in their first season playing for Samford. Jones-Gibson, a Third-Team All-SoCon selection, led the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game.
In the offseason, the ‘Dogs lose three seniors who will be a challenge to replace. Guard Brandon Hayman, forward Tyler Hood and center Michael Bradley all finished up their college careers on Friday evening. Hayman finished the season with a .520 field goal percentage, Hood averaged over 10 points per game and Bradley brought a strong physical presence in the paint that will be hard to replace.
With Padgett in the driver’s seat and an expected roster full of returning players, the future is bright for the ‘Dogs, especially considering they know what always comes first: Family Over Everything.