SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Indiana University South Bend men's basketball team is three weeks away from kicking off the 2014-15 season as they host the second annual "Haunted Hoops Tournament" on Halloween night. The tournament features fellow IU regional campus, Kokomo, Silver Lake College, and future Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference member, Saint Ambrose University.
Second year head coach, Scott Cooper has high expectations as he brought in a strong recruiting class to make this year's team more athletic and more explosive. Cooper brought with him to South Bend, an up-tempo offense that aims to score a lot of points and put a lot of defensive pressure on opposing teams.
Last season, Cooper inherited a team that featured eight players off a squad that won a school-record 20 games during the 2012-13 season. However, the new system proved to be somewhat of a challenge as the Titans scored 73 points per game. On the bright side, IU South Bend went a perfect 5-0 when scoring 90 or more points.
Coach Cooper's Titans reached the CCAC tournament where they fell to Roosevelt in heartbreaking fashion, in overtime, in the opening round. The 2014-15 Titans look to return to the CCAC tournament and go deeper with hopes of making a national tournament.
A young Titan squad returns just five players from last year's roster and added nine new faces.
New to the Titans coaching staff will be assistant coach Steven Heatherly. After an impressive playing career for the Titans, Heatherly has traded in his jersey for a jacket and tie. In his three year career, Steven scored 1,170 points and pulled down 354 rebounds. Heatherly was part of the 2012-13 team that won 20 games as he led the team in scoring with just over 13 ppg.
Jordan Grant returns in the middle for the Titans. Grant saw action in 26 games last season and proved that his presence in the paint is felt by opponents. He averaged nearly three rebounds per game and blocked eight shots. Grant has worked hard in the offseason on his shooting ability and should be a fixture in the starting lineup for the Titans.
Junior Riley Stichter returns after leading the Titans in minutes played per game last year (28.5). Stichter has a knack for rebounding the ball. His 7.2 rebounds per game last season ranked him in the top 10 in the conference. Riley also wreaked havoc on opposing offenses as he totaled 36 blocks and 27 steals both good for second-best on the team.
Another key player for the Titans is Beacher Ward. However, Ward may miss the majority of the as he injured his knee during an offseason workout. There is no timetable for Ward's return.
Last season, Mark White provided a spark off the bench for the Titans. He appeared in all 30 games and made eight starts. As a junior this year, White will provide leadership to a young inexperienced backcourt. White's minutes will increase as he will have an opportunity to run the fast paced offense.
Also returning from last year's team is Brandon Beam. Beam made 24 starts last season, scoring 8.5 ppg. Beam had success attacking the basket last year and will look to do the same this year as he will be looked upon to pick up some of the scoring slack left behind by his brother Chris Beam and Jason Jordan.
Oosha Mitchell, a 6'5" forward will have an immediate impact in his first season with the Titans. Oosha is very versatile player. He is a strong, athletic four-man who can shoot the three with range, score off the dribble from the perimeter, and play with his back to the basket in the post. He has a good feel for the game and plays extremely hard.
Mitchell's high school teammate, Jeremy Jones will compete for minutes as a wing player. Jeremy is a long, athletic and can really shoot the 3-pointer, and defend on the perimeter.
Former Mishawaka standout, Javonte Young returns to South Bend after playing two years at Iowa Central Community College. Young brings college basketball experience to this young squad and has the ability to be one of the top scorers in the conference. Young is a long, athletic, versatile guard who can shoot the 3-pointer, score off the dribble, and defend really well on the perimeter. His skill set and ability to defend multiple positions will be a great fit in Cooper's system.
Joining Young as a former Mishawaka gradute will be T.J. Benner. Benner enrolled at IU South Bend last year, but was unable to play for the Titans. With one year of practice under his belt, Benner should feel comfortable with the system. T.J. is a very athletic wing player with good length who shoots well from three-point range, and can score off the dribble. He continues to get faster and stronger and should be a scoring threat for the Titans.
Jacob Foster comes to IU South Bend after an impressive prep career at Wapahani High School. Foster averaged over 16 points and eight rebounds in his final season at WHS. Jacob is a long, athletic, versatile forward who can score a lot of different ways, rebound in traffic, and protect the rim defensively.
Dante Butler of Horizon Christian Academy in Indianapolis will redshirt this season. Butler has good size for a combo guard, and has an outstanding feel for the game and is a great rebounder for a guard, and can score in a lot of different ways. With a year to learn the system and get stronger, Butler's best days are ahead of him.
With Ward out, 6'7" Samuel Wilson will look to get some minutes for the Titans this year. The Milford, Indiana native has good size, is very skilled, and can play a few different positions offensively. As Wilson continues to get stronger and can adjust to the speed and physicality of college basketball, he should be a solid player for the Titans.
Allan Barnes is one of a few players who bring college basketball experience into this season. Barnes transferred from fellow CCAC member, Purdue North Central and adds size and strength to the Titans' backcourt. The 6'6" Granger, Indiana native is still learning the system as he just joined the team a couple of weeks ago. Once Barnes has that down, he could become a factor for the Titans.
Another local standout, Taylor Brooks of Penn High School rounds out the newcomers for the Titans. Brooks is a versatile forward with some serious length and high motor. His ability to shoot the three, finish inside, defend multiple positions, and rebound in traffic will make him a great addition.
The Titans schedule will feature two exhibitions with NCAA Division I teams. On November 5th, the Titans will travel to Indianpolis to take on Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis and on November 19th, the Titans will take on the Crusaders of Valparaiso University.
For the full schedule, visit www.iusbtitans.com
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