VALDOSTA -- The seasons are changing -- summer into fall, and football into basketball. With basketball season just around the corner, new head coach Mike Helfer has been getting the team ready for a run for the GCS championship.

"We've looked good so far. We have a lot of kids who play hard and compete," said Helfer. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity. The team's excited and ready to get started."

Helfer is the Blazers' sixth head coach in team history. For the past eight seasons, he has coached at Southern Polytechnic University. Helfer not only brings a change outside the game, but he brings a change inside the game, something he hopes the team gets on board with.

"(Winning) is going to be based on how quick we can adjust to a different system. The quicker we can gel, the better we can be," said Helfer.

Returning this season are center Jon Rogers and guard Mike Crain. Both are captains along with forward Justin Thomas, a transfer from Steve F. Austin University in Texas.

Also new to the team are four freshmen and transfer Herman Burge. Helfer says Burge "has a fire inside that is contagious. He brings a lot to the team while he is on the floor."

Freshman Ryan Glinka is from Orlando, Fla. He is 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and described as "a big strong kid." Andy Blondmonville is from Myrtle Beach and is described as a "great kid with great mentality."

Another freshman, Daniel Ferguson, has been highly praised by the coaches.

"(Ferguson) is very athletic, and plays very hard and disciplined," said Helfer. "He will be able to make contributions."

The Blazers have a tough schedule ahead of them this season. The GSC is being considered one the best conferences in the land. However one of the things that jumps out at you on the schedule is not that Valdosta does not play a home game until Dec. 2. It is the game on Jan. 5 against the UAB Blazers, something Helfer is looking forward to.

"We are in one of the top conferences in the country, it is going to take a total team effort" said Helfer. "Our desire to compete will help us."

For a look at the team, on Nov. 12 the Blazers will have a meet and greet with the fans.

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