Call Allen Iverson. We’re talking about practice.
Fairmont State University opens its 2013-2014 season today with the first practice.
While Iverson, an 11-time All-Star, infamously touted the workouts as meaningless, the Falcons know better.
The team and second-year coach Jerrod Calhoun have plenty of expectations for the season. Making the playoffs, hosting the NCAA tournament and winning a national championship are just a few of goals the Falcons have expressed.
But the Falcons brought it upon themselves. It’s the way they like it.
“Our goal is to win a national championship,” Calhoun said. “We put expectations on ourselves every day. I think the guys understand that. And we welcome that.”
The Falcons also understand that to accomplish these goals, the team will have to be on top of its game. And quickly.
In the blink of an eye, Fairmont State’s regular season will be here. The Falcons will play an exhibition game at West Virginia University on Nov. 4, just three short weeks away.
Practicing, and getting better each day, is going to be essential to Calhoun and the Falcons getting off to a hot start.
“We’ll be at a little bit of a disadvantage because Division I schools have been practicing for about two weeks,” Calhoun said. “They’ll have much more practice time than we have. We’ve got to get caught up on a lot of stuff.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier after the exhibition. The Falcons begin the season in earnest with three tough CIAA teams in Bowie State (Nov. 9), Virginia State (Nov. 10) and Winston-Salem State (Nov. 13.)
Calhoun called his schedule “one of the toughest in Division II basketball.” He said his team acknowledges the challenges and is ready to face them.
“There is a concentration level amongst our players that they really understand that we’ve got to be good early,” Calhoun said. “The first three games are all really important games.”
The only thing faster than the way the team has to prepare is the way the team hopes to play.
Calhoun said the team will employ an up-tempo, full-court press style to keep the pressure on opponents. It should help the Falcons create turnovers and score points in transition.
“We're going to play a lot quicker,” Calhoun said. “Since we have a lot more guys off our bench, we're going to press 33 to 34 minutes a game. I think we’ll score the ball a lot more playing fast and up-tempo. I think it will also be a style the fans will really like.”
Much of the offense will go through Brendan Cooper. The 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward is the only returning senior on the team. (Transfer Martins Abele is the other senior.) Cooper was a second-team All-WVIAC selection as a junior last season, averaging 12.6 points per game and pulling down a team-high seven rebounds per contest.
He’ll be joined by several returning players who played considerable minutes last season. Calhoun specifically pointed out sophomores Ke’Chaun Lewis, Stevie Browning and Tommy Scales as players who will make major contributions this season.
“All of those guys have a lot of game experience and have gotten much better,” he said. “They’ve gotten bigger, fast, stronger.”
The biggest question mark for the Falcons is the point guard positions. With Malik Stith gradating, Fairmont State loses its leader in assists (116) and steals (63) and its second-highest scorer (14.7 points per game.)
“Probably the biggest concern is the point guard position and replacing Malik Stith,” Calhoun said. “We’ll do that by committee. We have three very good freshman point guards.”
Those three are Otar Pkhakadze, Shammgod Wells and Caleb Davis.
The trio will have to get up to speed — and fast — if the Falcons are going to get off the quick start Calhoun anticipates.
And it all starts today, with practice. Practice!
Just don’t tell Iverson that.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.
Call Allen Iverson. We’re talking about practice.
- Fairmont State Sports
FSU men, women miss NCAA Tournament
For a season that had its ups and downs for Fairmont State, both the men’s and women’s teams just missed the cut for the NCAA Tournament.
FSU’s rally falls short against ’Toppers
Twenty minutes into Saturday night’s Mountain East Conference semifinal-round showdown between top-seeded and No. 3 ranked West Liberty and fourth-seeded Fairmont State here at the Charleston Civic Center the Falcons looked down and out.
Cooper leads FSU past Bobcats, 70-62
Brendan Cooper played liked a first-team all-league selection even though he strangely wasn't, and Chase Morgan did what he does best in the game's final 1:18 – hit shots.
The result was a 70-62 Fairmont State victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
West Liberty, Glenville, Charleston advance to MEC semi-final
Charleston out-lasted Wheeling Jesuit, 91-85, in overtime in the first quarterfinal of the Mountain East Conference Tournament presented by GoMart on Friday afternoon.
Andre Harris, who finished with a game-high 22 points, picked up a steal and then converted a traditional three-point play to put Wheeling Jesuit up 76-73 with :21 seconds left.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
FSU women roll in MEC Tourney opener
Fifth-seeded Fairmont State didn't waste any time Tuesday night punching its ticket for Charleston and earning a berth in the Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wimbush named MEC Freshman of the Year
Thomas Wimbush has been named Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year, as announced by the league office this afternoon. Wimbush also joined teammates Stevie Browning and Brendan Cooper on the MEC second team.
FSU women to open MEC Tournament
When Fairmont State’s women’s basketball team toppled Shepherd, 103-80, Saturday, coach Steve McDonald didn’t know who his team would face.
Falcons edge Shepherd, earn first-round bye: PHOTOS
The scenario Saturday afternoon on Senior Day for Fairmont State's men's basketball team in its regular-season finale against visiting Shepherd University was pretty simple.
Win and receive an automatic first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. Lose and host a first-round game Tuesday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
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- FSU men, women miss NCAA Tournament