October 24, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The John A. Logan College women and men’s basketball teams took to the hardwood Thursday evening to showcase their skills before the public as part of a preseason “Blue Madness” extravaganza at the Donald L. Brewer Gymnasium and Convocation Center.

Following an interview session with the media, the teams competed against one another in a 3-point shooting competition. The men followed with a slam dunk contest. Both teams then scrimmaged against one another for 10 minutes with some dazzling ball handling, passes, shots and slams.

Vols’ 6-foot-8 sophomore center Russell Woods said he was excited to play before the partisan crowd, even if it was only an exhibition.

“I’m ready to show people what we’re made of. I’m ready to get after it,” Woods said. “Last year, it was about getting used to the faster pace of the game and learning the system. This year, it’s been a much easier transition. I think we can do a lot with this team. I think we’re good enough to win it all.”

Sophomore guard, Connor Wheeler, was also optimistic.

“It feels great to be home and here playing again at Logan,” he said. “This is where I grew up, where my family is from. I’m going to love every minute of it. We definitely have a chance to do something special with this team. We’re working hard in practice and trying to get better, so that we can reach our goal of Nationals.”

Logan men’s coach Kyle Smithpeters, beginning his third year with the Vols, liked what he has saw of the ‘Blue Madness’ showcase.

“It was a great turnout. It’s always good to see people come out in waves like this,” he said. “I was really impressed with the amount of media and fans tonight. Hopefully, this will generate some excitement for the season.

“As for the scrimmage, I just told the kids to have fun,” Smithpeters said. “I don’t think you’ll ever see more points scored in 10 minutes of basketball than what you saw tonight. It’s just one of those things where we’ve worked so hard in practice that I wanted the kids to have a good time, and I think we accomplished that.”

Smithpeters said he likes his team’s mix.

“We have a lot of bigs and guards that can play,” he said. “We have some experience in key spots. I can’t complain one bit right now.”

Lady Vols’ sophomore guard Sarah Bailey said she can’t wait to get the new season started.

“Obviously, we still have some things to work on, but I like what I see with this team. Everyone gets along really well. It’s just a matter of meshing together better. We’ll get there. I have a good feeling about this team.”

Women’s head coach Marty Hawkins is beginning his 17th year at Logan and 36th year in collegiate basketball altogether with more than 500 career wins.

“I thought this was a good night for the home fans to see everybody,” he said. “It was a good turnout by the media, as well. We have a lot of quality teams coming in here to play us this season, some great doubleheaders, too. I’m looking forward to another season.”

The men open play at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 at home against Memphis-based Southern Institute. The women open play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at home against John Wood College from Quincy.