Corry Mulligan – Sports Writer |
There has been a buzz around Samford’s campus lately in anticipation of the 2012-13 men’s basketball season.
With a new coach, a new game plan and a new crop of players, this team is in the process of changing the culture of Samford basketball.
After the team posted a disappointing 12-19 record last season athletics director Martin Newton fired long-time head coach Jimmy Tillette.
On April 5 Newton officially introduced Bennie Seltzer as the Bulldogs’ new head coach.
With Tillette out, the door swung wide open for Seltzer to install his much more fast-paced system.
“We have a lot more freedom this year,” redshirt sophomore Tyler Hood said.
“Guys are put in positions where they can score. We get it in the post, swing it around and we do pretty well.”
Seltzer, a Birmingham native, has worked as a key assistant at Oklahoma, Marquette and Indiana, where he spent the past four years.
He and the rest of the coaching staff hit the recruiting trail hard this offseason, receiving commitments from two players of the year from Florida, Clide Geffrard Jr and Russel Wilson.
The 6-foot-5-inch Geffrard averaged 17.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his final season at Blanche Ely High School.
He was named player of the year en route to helping Blanche Ely capture a 7A state title.
Wilson was the 5A player of the year in Florida and led Lake Wales High School to the state championship and a number 30 national ranking.
Geffrard and Wilson fit perfectly into Seltzer’s scheme, which revolves around pushing the ball on offense and locking down the opponent on defense.
“We’re going to have a fast-paced offensive attack,” Seltzer said. “We’re going to shoot a few threes, but defense is where we’re going to win most of our games.”
How the new batch of Bulldogs meshes with the returning players will be crucial to Samford’s success this season.
“The team has been bonding a lot lately,” Wilson said. “We are becoming more of a team every day at practice.”
The Bulldogs will have some holes to fill this season after losing four seniors as well as their top scorer, Drew Windler, who transferred to Belmont.
Returning players Hood, Raijon Kelly and Will Cook showed signs of brilliance last season and look to lead this revamped Bulldog squad this year.
Hood was the ‘Dogs second leading scorer last season with 11.1 points per game, and he earned a spot on the SoCon All-Freshman team.
College Sports Madness took note of Hood’s potential and named him to the conference fourth team going into the 2012-13 campaign.
Kelly, a sophomore, and Cook, a junior, both made significant contributions last year, averaging 9.4 and 8.0 points per game respectively.
The two will likely be even bigger scoring threats this season.
This young Samford squad has no seniors on the roster, so all returning players will be looked to for leadership.
“We have to step up and show the younger players the ropes a little bit,” Hood said.
“They have to realize it’s a long season, and we have to help them along.”
The Bulldogs enter the 2012-13 season tied for fourth in the SoCon north division.
Samford’s schedule features high-profile showdowns against top-25 teams Louisville, Memphis, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
“We’re going to do everything necessary as a program to win and to strive for championships,” Seltzer said.