The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 4, 2014

Calhoun ecstatic about new season, signs JUCO guard

Falcons will play ‘most challenging schedule’ in recent years

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team has added another important piece to the roster for the upcoming season in junior college guard Wil Martinez, coach Jerrod Calhoun announced Thursday.

The signing comes at the same time that the Falcons have finished their schedule for the 2014-15 season, a schedule that coach Calhoun is ecstatic about.

Martinez, a combo guard from Malcom X College, averaged 29.1 points and 4.2 assists per game last season while shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range.

“He can really score the basketball,” Calhoun noted. “He’s an excellent 3-point shooter and has a lot of international experience.”

Martinez joins a roster that features shooters such as Jamel Morris and Chase Morgan while providing a veteran presence along with Division I transfers Brandon Vega and Nick Harney.

“Being an older guy, a JUCO kid, he comes in bigger and stronger than an incoming freshman. We really wanted to fill that void,” Calhoun said of the experience Martinez brings to FSU. “I think he’ll come in and give us a great amount of versatility and experience.”

At the end of last season, Calhoun mentioned a clear game plan for the offseason: find experience, find shooters and become versatile. And with the signing of Martinez, Vega and Harney — along with a handful of incoming freshmen — Calhoun believes he’s met that goal.

After the team had signed Harney, a physical player from Akron, Calhoun believed his team had become one of the most versatile and athletic teams in the Mountain East Conference and maybe even the country.

The signing of Martinez only reiterates that fact, he said, pointing out the various different options his team could go with this season.

“One of the things I really like about this team is our versatility,” Calhoun said. “You have Brandon, Caleb (Davis) and Sham (Wells) giving you three guys who can play the point. Jamel and Thomas Wimbush on the wing. Nick and Trevor (Andrews-Evans) down low. And Jamel, Chase and Martinez can shoot the ball from deep. We’re going to be a little bit like Kentucky is, having a deep bench.”

That versatility, Calhoun said, will help the Falcons as they prepare to face their toughest schedule in recent memory.

The upcoming schedule for the 2014-15 season will begin with a tough exhibition game against the University of Cincinnati on Nov. 8 on the road, something Calhoun believes will bolster his team’s confidence and give the staff a look at what they can really do.

“That gives us another high major opponent before we even start,” Calhoun said, making mention of the fact that his team played West Virginia University in an exhibition game last season. “That’s going to be a huge game for us, playing against a team that’s made it to the Sweet 16.”

The Falcons will again kick their season off with the Joe Retton Classic in front of their home fans with a full slate of games.

This year, FSU will play Mercyhurst and West Chester during the Joe Retton Classic on Nov. 14 and 15, two teams coming from the always-powerful PSAC, West Chester making the NCAA Tournament last season before being bounced in the first round.

In addition to an already tough MEC schedule, the Falcons will play Lincoln (Pennsylvania) on Nov. 29, Bowie State Dec. 8, Winston Salem State Dec 16, and Bellarmine Dec. 20, rounding out a very thick non-conference schedule.

“I think we’re put together the most challenging schedule in our three years here and probably the most challenging since we’ve been an NCAA Division II team,” Calhoun said of his team’s slate of games.

After narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament a season ago, Calhoun said that he and his staff sat down and studied even further how the NCAA selection committee looks at teams from the different regions and set up a schedule which sets them up to be in prime position for a spot in next year’s tournament.

“We’ve got a lot of teams from the CIAA and PSAC teams,” Calhoun noted. “We’re very balanced in the regional games. All of our non-conference games are games against teams in the region.

“This is probably the hardest D-II non-conference schedule in the country.”

NOTE: Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team will also be holding an additional skills camp, starting Monday, July 7, running through Thursday, July 10. The cost of the camp is $150 per player and includes a T-shirt and certificate on the final day of the camp. Lunch will also be served daily. Registration will begin at 8:15 a.m. on July 7 in the lobby of the Falcon Center. Cash and checks will be accepted as payment during registration. You make checks payable to Fairmont State Men’s Basketball. If you have any questions, call Joe Mazzulla at 401-481-0464 or email at jmazzulla21@gmail.com.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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