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Friday, Oct. 29

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[OCT. 29, 2004]  Lincoln College will open the 2004-05 men's basketball season at Centralia on Monday against Kaskaskia as the Lynx try to prove their ranking of 10th in the nation in NJCAA Division II and a second-place preseason ranking in Region 24.

B.J. McCullum, coach of the Lynx, takes a team that finished 17-15 last season into the season opener. McCullum began his Lincoln College coaching in 1998 and has posted a record of 123-43.

"We have a very athletic group with a lot of team speed, and we have shown pretty good defense in our preseason games," said McCullum. "We are not meshing offensively at this time, but the potential is available.

"We are pleased with the preseason ranking, but I think any one of five or six teams could win our conference. ICC has all of its outside players returning, and Spoon River could have the best athletes in the conference. John Wood has a Division I player at 6-8 and has two players bigger than him, so they will be a force inside.

"I feel we could be the top seed in our region," McCullum said, noting that even if the Lynx earn the No. 1 spot, they would have to play on the road because the home court size does not meet the required NJCAA regulations.

McCullum begins the season with 13 players and will have the services of Stephano Jones beginning Dec. 16. Jones transferred to Lincoln College after starting school last year at South Suburban. "Jones is a very strong athlete and will give us some extra muscle," McCullum said.

"AuoVadis Harper is recovering from a knee injury and needs to get down to his playing weight. He is an outstanding post player and will be a force inside when he is able to get in condition," continued McCullum. "We don't have a lot of shooters, so we will try to establish an inside game and work on scoring off the dibble and with our transition defense.

"Running the squad from the point will be Jason Moore, who defends well and is a tough kid who worked hard in the offseason. I am expecting a lot from him this season. Brad Howell shoots the ball well and has shown to be a tough kid with a lot of competitive skills. Sheldon Evans played some point guard at Aurora West and he has been a pleasant surprise in our preseason games. If he gets a little stronger, he will be a definite plus for our squad.

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"Rodney Williams is our best scorer and can shoot the 3 as well as getting to the basket with either hand. He is a complete player who led us in scoring last season until an injury ended his season. Aaron Williams has played well early and needs to continue to grow. Aaron has the ability to elevate his game to the competition, and we need to get him playing at a higher level all the time. Nick Malone is a very athletic player and will be working at the wing or the post. We need him to hit the offensive boards and play all season as strong as he finished last season.

"Stevan Nelson understands what we want done and plays the game without making mistakes from the guard spot. Chris Griffin has played with a lot of energy and has shown the ability to pressure the ball and gets us in our transition game very quickly. Michael Henderson is a very athletic forward who can also play in the post. He is a good rebounder, and we need to have him step up his scoring if we are to be successful.

"Andre Mayne needs to get his weight down to be one of our better players, and we need for him to step up. We have two freshmen who should contribute to our success. Jake Littrel is probably our best all-around player who plays well defensively and has shot the ball much better than we anticipated in preseason. Brandon Alexander is a very strong athlete from Chicago Simeon High School who is a quick offensive rebounder, and he has a chance to be an outstanding player. He just needs to work on his outside shot."

[Bill Martinie, Lincoln College]

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