Young guns

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Selma times-journal

Most coaches will take talent over experience when it comes to winning ball games.

Even if Concordia men’s basketball coach Anthony Rutledge didn’t believe that, he’d have to fake it.

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Entering his second season as coach of the Hornets, Rutledge’s recruiting class includes 17 newcomers. Many of those will be impact players right away.

For a team that has seen lots of past success, it might be easy to cast this off as a rebuilding year.

Sure, the team will take its lumps. But strength in numbers will count for a lot in the long run.

“Being young, that will give us experience and will help us as far as next season,” said guard Warren Carey. “We’ll grow as a team instead of individually.”

The most noticeable difference from last year’s team is the size.

The Hornets not only got taller up front, they got wider.

Dominique Kelly (6-foot-6, 250 pounds), Calvin Marshall (6-foot-5, 220) and Rashawn Mabry (6-foot-6, 200) give Concordia size they were desperately lacking.

Swing forward Jeremey Jackson will also give the Hornets size and quickness going to the basket.

“Last year we were weak with our big men,” Rutledge said. “This year we added a little bulk to the lineup, and that should help us. We also recruited some of the best guards in the nation.”

Whether its ball handling, shooting, passing or defensive pressure, the team seems to have a backcourt player that can do the job.

Chad Robinson and Karl Jackson – both products of Hammond, La. – are just two of the guards that Rutledge brought in.

But it’s not all about basketball for the players.

The allure of Concordia also came from the campus’ atmosphere.

Some people think about small, religious colleges and their first thought is “restriction.”

Guard Kalonje Ramsey preferred to think of it as protection and comfort.

“For the simple fact that I’ve been out of school for a while, this is like another chance for me,” he said. “I found this to be a great opportunity. I can finish my education and play the sport I love. Regardless of if I have basketball or not, I’ll have something to support my family.

“I’ve been in church for as long as I can remember, so this nothing new for me.”

Although there will be a heavy rotation of inexperienced players, Rutledge and his players are setting high goals.

“We were successful last year as a whole,” Rutledge said. “This year with new athletes and a new attitude, we should be fine. If you’re looking at wins and losses, I would be looking for at least a .600 or .700 season. If we play 20 games and win 10 to 14, that would be successful.”