AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Augusta State men's basketball team will open its 2002-03 season Friday night when the Jaguars take on the Akron Wingfoots in an exhibition matchup at 7:30 p.m. in the ASU Athletic Complex.
The Jaguars, entering their sixth season under head coach Gary Tuell, return just three lettermen from last season's 22-8 squad that advanced to the Division II NCAA Tournament. The Jags must replace all five starters, including two-time Peach Belt Conference Player-of-the-Year Gary Boodnikoff.
“Usually when you lose all five starters off a team that went to the NCAA’s you expect to go backwards a bit or maybe face a total rebuilding project," Tuell said. "But the group we have now has as much potential as that group -- maybe more -- and if we stay healthy we can be good. Practices have certainly been more competitive because of the quality of our depth. We easily have eight or nine guys capable of starting.”
The Jags will be seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive Peach Belt North Division Championship during the 2002-03 season and their third straight 20-win season. ASU has posted a 59-19 (.755) record during the last four years in Peach Belt Conference play. The Jags’ 2002-03 roster includes nine newcomers who the ASU coaching staff will help offset the loss of five starters.
Seven of the Jags’ eight non-conference games will be against teams that advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament last season. Tuell has fashioned a five-year record of 84-61 at ASU, and during his 15-year coaching career, the former University of Louisville assistant has amassed a stellar 280-177 overall