Valdosta Daily Times

Breaking News:

Local Sports

November 10, 2012

VSU men’s basketball hoping for better results in 2012-13

VALDOSTA — After a disappointing 2011-12 season, the Valdosta State men’s basketball team is looking for a bounce back season in 2012-13.

That bounce back starts tonight when the Blazers host Point (Ga.) University at the P.E. Complex. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

The Blazers finished last season with a dismal 11-16 record, the worst season under head coach Mike Helfer.

Of the 16 losses, 13 were by double digits, including an 83-52 loss to eighth-ranked Christian Brothers in the Gulf South Conference Tournament.

“Each year brings a lot of optimism and hope,” Helfer said. “Basically, you have to have the right mix of kids out there and the right system and if you do you can be successful. We’ve done that many times here at Valdosta State; last year we just didn’t do it.

“I hope people will come out and support us with these new kids and a new year and we’ll see where it goes. It doesn’t mean it is going to be all easy going, there are going to be some bumps in the road, but I’m going to make sure we come out and play as hard we can and play as together as we can.”

This year, the Helfer is hoping for different, positive results with his new team, which features 12 new players and just one returner. That returner is two-year starting forward Josh Sparks, one of the most recognizable athletes at Valdosta State.

“(Sparks) has grown both on the court and off the field,” Helfer said. “He has become a very good leader. I think he’s     increased his energy level, in all aspects of the game, which I think was one of his weaknesses. I expect, Josh to have a very, very good senior year.”

Last year, Sparks averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while managing to block 73 shots, which led the conference.

One criticism on Sparks has been his inability to score from multiple areas on the floor, something Helfer says he’s addressed.

“He has worked hard to score from multiple areas from the floor,” Helfer said. “What he’s done is he’s expanded his abilities at the offensive end.”

With the new team, Helfer says he has been pushing team unity and playing together as one collective unit. That’s why Helfer didn’t nominate any of his new players for the GSC’s Top Newcomers List.

“I definitely think this is a close group,” Helfer said. “We’re still learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses for the most part, and I think that will take some time, but from a mental standpoint, everyone is more interested in the team than themselves. That was very important.”

Among the newcomers is senior forward James Anacreon (6-foot-7), a transfer from Wichita State. In 12 games at Wichita last year, Anacreon shot 50 percent from the floor, grabbing 16 rebounds and recording three blocks and have steals.

Anacreon will rotate in at forward with junior Alan Love (6-foot-6), sophomore Colin Cook (6-foot-8), junior Josh Haskins (6-foot-11) and junior David Murray (6-foot-4).

At guard junior Demetris Allen (6-foot-3), senior Shaquille Harris (6-foot-1), and junior Patrick Diop (6-foot-3) are all listed on the roster, along with freshmen Norman Taylor (6-foot) — of Valdosta High School.

“A lot of guys are going to play a lot of minutes,” Helfer said. “When you are out on the floor, you have to make sure you contribute. It is not really about who’s starting; it is about who’s contributing, maybe who is doing things we want done on the floor. Sometimes, you might get seven or eight kids that can start and some kids just have to come off the bench and play.”

Following tonight’s game against Point, the Blazers will host the Langdale Honda Kia Classic, set for Nov. 16-17 at the P.E. Complex. In the tournament, the Blazers will host Carver College and Florida Memorial, both teams they beat last year.

VSU will also face Albany State (Nov. 20) and Lynn (Nov. 24) before heading on the road for the first time this season.

“Anytime you can play in the Complex, that is an advantage,” Helfer said. “We had some return games that we have to play here at home. So, we were able to find the time here in the schedule, at the beginning, because our league has expanded so much. But, we are excited about playing in the Complex in front of our fans.”

The Blazers open Gulf South Conference play Nov. 29 at Union University and will also face North Alabama Dec. 1. They will return to league play Jan. 3 against rival Alabama-Huntsville before hosting conference newcomer Shorter Jan 4.

Once again, the GSC is expected to be on the toughest conferences in the nation.

“(Wednesday), Christian Brothers was tied with the University of Memphis with five minutes to go,” Helfer said, pointing out the tough competition. “Huntsville has most of their kids back; I think they’re great coaches in our league; I think Shorter is a great addition to our league; I think Union is a great addition.

“I think it is going to help our league, from a competitive standpoint. But again, if we are going to call ourselves one of the best Division II conferences in the country, then we should expect to have great teams.”

With all the great teams inside the GSC and with the large amount of turnover for the Blazers this season, Valdosta State was picked to finish sixth in the conference this season, something Helfer doesn’t buy too much into.

“I think a lot of preseason polls are based on who you have coming back,” Helfer said. “Even when we were picked high in past years, I didn’t pay much attention to it. We haven’t focused on that at all. We’re just trying to focus on game one.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS little cats camp 1.jpg Valdosta hosts fundamental camp for ‘Little ’Cats’

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS practice1.jpg Getting Back to Work

    Friday officially began the 2014 season for the Valdosta Wildcats and both the offense and defense came out and made statements.
    After holding spring and summer workouts, the Wildcats will practice four more times without pads before beginning full pad practice next week.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lowndes_Brooks1.jpg Lowndes second-most dominant program in state since 2004

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Falcons_Jones.jpg Falcons open camp with ‘sense of urgency’

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Padres_braves.jpg Padres, Hahn silence Braves

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former Blazer Kugbila out for season

    Now, after missing the 2013 season with a knee injury, this signals another hardship for the promising guard.

    July 25, 2014

  • LHS baseball signing Two Lowndes grads sign scholarships

    Lowndes graduates Henry Hoff and Nick Higginbotham decided to take the next step in their respective baseball careers together on Thursday as both signed a letter-of-intent with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog
More