Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005
When people first hear or read the initials MMI they automatically focus on the military in the title of Marion Military Institute. What they may not realize is that while MMI is in fact a military institute, it is also an anomaly in the state. The institute houses both a four-year high school with grades 9-12 and a membership in the Alabama Independent School Association. It also houses a junior college with a nationally ranked basketball program.
Blanton, who inherited the program halfway through the season, made winning expectation.
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The Tigers finished the season with a 16-8 mark, good enough to earn them a top eight finish in the USACC National Polls and earn an invitation into the National Tournament held in Concord, N.H. Once at the tournament, the Tigers were competing with schools primarily from the New England area, and earned a seventh place finish.
This year, Blanton looks for his Tigers to continue their success. He also plans to turn the Military Institute into a feeder-program for larger, more prominent basketball schools.
Right now, the Tigers return four players from last year season have commitments from five more for this coming fall. Blanton is in the middle of recruiting.
Shawn Williams, a graduate of Sunshine High in Newburn, is an example of a student coming to MMI to learn and play, but not to be a soldier.
Back on the basketball courts, the Tigers stress defense and finished last season as the No. 1 defense in the USCAA.
Blanton also says that they try to fashion each game towards their competition.
Which, with their schedule for the 2005-2006 season, they will have plenty of.
The Tigers will open their season with a road trip to Chattanooga for a face-off with Tennessee Temple College on November 3. Five days later, the Tigers will play host to Southern Union on November 8.