SoCon Hosts Basketball Tip-Off in Asheville

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Trey Sumler looks to lead the Catamounts in 2013-14.
CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM
Trey Sumler looks to lead the Catamounts in 2013-14.
CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 8, 2013

WCU Season Preview

Asheville, N.C. - Western Carolina head men's basketball coach, Larry Hunter, attended the Southern Conference Tipoff in Asheville Tuesday morning with the start of the 2013-14 Catamount season one month away.

WCU lost only two players - one contributing player - from their 2012-13 roster that went 14-19 overall and 9-9 in the SoCon North Division to finish in third. The veteran squad has been going through preseason practice since Saturday, September 28 as they prepare for the opening contest against Wittenberg University on Friday, October 8 in the Ramsey Center.

"It is kind of an unusual preseason at this point with the five seniors and basically our whole squad returning. It has been a lot easier to put our system back into place," said Hunter, who enters his ninth season for the Purple and Gold. "The guys have been very in tune in reviewing and it has been a review for everyone but one player, Charlendez Brooks our freshman."

The five returning seniors -- Brandon Boggs, Tawaski King, Josh Mendenhall, Trey Sumler and Tom Tankelewicz - are expected to provide veteran leadership and production for the Catamounts. Sumler and King are the centerpieces with Sumler coming off a stellar season, finishing second in the SoCon in points per game with 18.4. King also scored in double-figures, 11 points per game, a season ago and averaged a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game.

 

 

All told, WCU could have three players over the 1,000-point career plateau before the end of the season. Sumler, who crossed the threshold last year, sits at 1,439 career points, could be joined Boggs, who has 946 career points, and King, who has scored 749 career points.

"This class has played a lot of basketball at Western Carolina and, of course, our team is going to be built, to some, degree around Trey Sumler, our point guard, and Tawaski King, our center. Tom Tankelewicz and Brandon Boggs have been key pieces to the puzzle for several years now. Josh Mendenhall is a young man that because of injuries a year ago didn't really show what he can do. I am looking forward to him gaining some confidence, getting into the mix and showing us what he can do a little bit more too," Hunter said about his seniors.

Sumler, who has already been named SoCon Preseason Player of the Year by College Sports Madness, will be the game-changer for the Catamounts on the offensive and defensive end. For his career, Sumler ranks 16th in school history with his 1,439 career points. He ranks in the top-10 of six other Western Carolina all-time records: fifth with a 82.3 free throw percentage, eighth with 146 steals and a 39.2 3-point field goal percentage, tied for ninth with 155 threes made and 348 made free throws and 10th with 358 career assists. He has 77 career double-figure games, including 19 games with 20 or more points. He has been reliable playing in 100 of a possible 101 career games, including averaging 37.7 minutes per game last year, the ninth highest minutes per game average in the NCAA.

"Trey is a winner in my opinion; he is an individual that loves to compete. His motor is full throttle 100 percent of the time, and you can't say that about everybody. He is passionate about the game, and he loves to practice. He'll play both ends of the court. He can change a game with his defense as well as his offense," Hunter said of his senior point guard.

Western Carolina's game against Wittenberg, a place Coach Hunter spent a total of 16 seasons -- three of as an assistant coach and 13 as the team's head coach, opens a grueling early slate of games for the Catamounts. After a home game against UNC Asheville on Wednesday, November 11 in Cullowhee, WCU takes to the road -- and the air - with a ten-day road swing. A cross-country trip to the West Coast to play Oregon on Wednesday, November 13 opens the trip with stops at Virginia Tech and Liberty on back-to-back days, Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16, awaiting the team when they head back east. Three games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Kent, Ohio against host Kent State, Niagara and USC Upstate on consecutive days, Thursday, November 22 through Saturday, November 23, cap off trip. WCU closes out the month of November with two more games, before playing five games in December, three more on the road, and SoCon play opening to start the new calendar year.

"With an experienced team, our weaknesses will be identified early on. That is the good part about playing people like this so we'll know the things we have to work on to become a better team early on. We won't have that false identity because we are winning by comfortable scores. Our depth will be tested, so a lot of good things come out of playing a schedule like this. Come January we should be a better basketball team then we were in November," Hunter added.

The tipoff event in Asheville Tuesday was to celebrate the league's third year partnering with the city of Asheville for the Southern Conference Tournament that will be played Friday, March 7 through Monday, March 10 at the US Cellular Center and UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena. SoCon Commissioner, John Iamarino, also announced an extension with the city for another three years, through 2017.

Quotes from Coach Hunter at the SoCon Basketball Tip-Off
Coach Hunter on the first week and a half of preseason practice.
"It is kind of an unusual preseason at this point you know with the five seniors and basically our whole squad returning it has been a lot easier to put our system back into place. The guys have been very in tune in reviewing and it has been a review for everyone but one player, Charlendez Brooks our freshman. So it has been a pretty easy process at this point. The guys have worked really hard and the energy has been outstanding, and we are building. I think the guys understand that. They realize there is a lot of maturity on our team and a lot of really good leadership. They realize just how important these early weeks are to the overall scheme of things for your season."

Coach Hunter on leadership of the five seniors.
"This class has played a lot of basketball at Western Carolina and of course our team is going to be built, to some degree, around Trey Sumler, our point guard, and Tawaski King, our center. Tom Tankelewicz and Brandon Boggs have been key pieces to the puzzle for several years now. Josh Mendenhall is a young man that because of injuries a year ago didn't really show what he can do. I am looking forward to him gaining some confidence, getting into the mix and showing us what he can do a little bit more too."

Coach Hunter on Trey Sumler and his abilities on both sides of the court.
"Trey is a winner in my opinion; he is an individual that loves to compete. His motor is full throttle 100 percent of the time and you can't say that about everybody. He is passionate about the game, and he loves to practice. He'll play both ends of the court. He can change a game with his defenses, as well as, his offense. He has great confidence with his ability to create shots and score, but he is not a selfish scorer. He is all about winning and those are great qualities. His numbers may not be quite as good this year as they were a year ago because I think we have more pieces of the puzzle around him, which will make us a better basketball team; I think he is mature enough to understand that."

Coach Hunter on navigating the difficult schedule.
"With a team like this, a veteran team - a year ago we were on the inexperience side - but we are going to have probably the most depth we have had since I have been in Cullowhee. With an experienced team our weaknesses will be identified early on. That is the good part about playing people like this so we'll know the things we have to work on to become a better team early on. We won't have that false identity because we are winning by comfortable scores. Our depth will be tested so a lot of good things come out of playing a schedule like this. Come January we should be a better basketball team then we were in November."

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