Dayton, Tenn. – As the weather starts to change and the cold temperatures arrive, it can only mean one thing… the beginning of basketball season. The Bryan Lions Men's Basketball team is already working on a successful 2016 campaign as they traveled to Oakwood University (Ala.) on Tuesday, Oct. 25, where the Lions topped the reigning United States Collegiate Athletic Association DI 2015-16 National Champions in a close 65-60 battle, giving Bryan a 1-0 start to the year.
The Lions pick up play in their home opener on Friday, Oct. 28, when they host Webber International University at 7:30pm, which has been selected as a blackout game, so make sure to wear a black shirt to help turn Summers Gymnasium into a black wave.
Bryan looks to better last year's finish when they compiled a 13-15 overall record and 8-10 record in Appalachian Athletic Conference play, which earned them the No. 6 spot in the AAC in regular season action. The Lions suffered a loss to Reinhardt University (Ga.) in the opening round of the conference tournament 84-80 that ultimately ended the Bryan's season.
It was both an exciting and disappointing time at the end of the 2015-16 season when the Bryan Lions had to say goodbye to their all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Bryan Basketball history, Brandon Cole. Cole didn't leave empty handed though as he was recognized as Bryan's only representative to the All-Conference First Team, while returner Oteriah Lee (JR/Knoxville, Tenn.) earned All-Conference Second Team honors. Cole went on to receive his 10th honor as AAC Player of the Week and be named Player of the Week by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. Another notable award he was given was extremely prestigious and involved both his accomplishments on the court and in the classroom, and it was the CoSIDA Academic All-America College Division Men's Basketball Player of the Year. It is the only time in school history a Lion has been awarded the Player of the Year status by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Three key returners to watch for are Lee, Tyler Yoder (JR/Crossville, Tenn.), and Brice Cusick (JR/Jefferson City, Tenn.). Lee was an All-Conference player and is considered one of the premier point guards in the league. Yoder has been a double-figure player for the Lions each and every week last season, and he's going to be asked to do even more this upcoming year. After an 8.6 rebounds per game, Cusick is back and is going to be a primary option down below this year.
A few other returners to mention are Reagan Johnson (JR/Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) who could potentially start as a junior and Caleb Tuck (SR/Dickson, Tenn.) who will provide great point guard play off the bench. Terrance Scales (JR/Cedar Bluff, Ala.) will offer the Lions additional skilled wing-play, and Riley Dempsey (SO/Dunlap, Tenn.) will help maintain a presence inside for Bryan.
A plethora of talent has been added to the Lions team this year in the form of many new faces. Wray fuller already made a splash this season when he led Bryan in scoring at Oakwood with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 5-of-9 traveling from behind the arc. Fuller joined the Lions from Volunteer State (Tenn.) where he averaged 16 points per game for them last season. Runner-up Mr. Basketball in Tennessee, Austin Douglas (FR/Ashland City, Tenn.), standing at 6-3 will be a threat from the wing and has already given a small taste of what he has to offer when he aided with 11 points, going 5-for-8 and entertaining the Ambassadors' home crowd. Tyrell Clary (JR/Madison, Ala.), a 6-4 post out of Wallace State Community College (Ala.) was unable to get going offensively at Oakwood, but he helped with three rebounds, two assists, and one steal during his time on the court. Evan Ragsdale (FR/Nashville, Tenn.) will pose as a significant threat from downtown and comes to Dayton from just up the road in Nashville where he attended Christ Presbyterian Academy. We could also be seeing Clay Hertel (SO/Nashville, Tenn.) out on the court for the Lions after coming to Bryan from Berry College (Ga.).
There is no doubt that the Lions will be tested consistently throughout the year as a result of more difficult out of conference games and three teams in the AAC either receiving votes or ranked within the top-25 in the nation. The schedule is composed of 14 home games and 13 away games. Nov. 16 marks a significant matchup for the Lions as they travel to the 11th ranked Union College Bulldogs (Ky.) to open up conference play with kickoff slated for 7:30pm. After battling Reinhardt University (Ga.) next, Bryan hosts conference foe (RV) Tennessee Wesleyan University Nov. 22 at 7:30pm. Dec. 3 will be the first time the Lions meet up with the Rams of Bluefield College (Va.), another team receiving votes, for a conference showdown set for 4pm.
"We will be tried consistently throughout the entire season," said Bryan Head Coach, Don Rekoske. "Union provides a really good side, and both Bluefield and Tennessee Wesleyan could always cause problems for us in conference. From top-to-bottom our league will be challenging."
For the full 2016 Men's Basketball schedule, click here.
Bryan College Opens with Quality Road Win
Huntsville, Ala. – The Bryan College Men's Basketball team went on the road on Tuesday night and defeated Oakwood University 65-60. Oakwood University won the USCAA National Championship last season. The first half saw Bryan get off to a good start with a 14-9 lead early as Wray Fuller (JR/Jackson, Tenn.) had 8 early points. Oakwood followed that with a run of their own and took a 28-24 lead with one minute remaining in the half. Oteriah Lee and Brice Cusick both played important roles in the first half before Wray Fuller hit a three-pointer late in the first half to cut the lead to 28-27 at the intermission. The defensive by Bryan was relentless as they held Oakwood to 32% shooting in the first half. The second half saw the Lions fall down by 10 points and nine points on two separate situations with Bryan fighting back on both occasions as freshman Austin Douglas led the comebacks with nine second half points. With only 2:30 left, the Lions trailed again 60-55, but five consecutive defensive stops and four scores late in the game enabled Bryan to go on a 10-0 run to closeout the contest. The two critical baskets being Austin Douglas' drive with 1:15 left to tie the game at 60 and Wray Fuller's three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner.
Fuller led the Lions with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, 5-for-9 behind the arc, and corralled five rebounds. Cusick followed with 16 points after going 6-of-15 from the floor, 2-of-3 from the three-point line, and snagged a team-high nine rebounds. Douglas produced 11 points after shooting 5-of-8 and collected four boards. Lee aided with 10 points after knocking down four shots on eight attempts, grabbed five rebounds, and led all players with six assists. As a team, Bryan shot 41.4 percent from the floor and a notable 40.9 percent from deep.
Retrieved from aacsports.com.
Asheville, N.C. - Union College is the favorite to win the 2016-17 Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) men's basketball championship, according to the coaches' poll released Monday.
Union shared the 2015-16 regular-season championship with Tennessee Wesleyan University as both went 16-2 in league play. Union went on to win the AAC Tournament for the third year in a row. In fact, Union has won or shared both the AAC regular-season and tournament championships for the last three seasons.
Both Union (28-7 overall in 2015-16) and Tennessee Wesleyan (28-4 overall in 2015-16) advanced to the NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament and ended the year ranked No. 11 and 19, respectively.
Receiving six first-place votes, Union claimed the top spot with 114 points. Bluefield College, which advanced to the AAC Tournament title game, collected two first-place votes and 104 points to land second. Tennessee Wesleyan picked up two first-place votes and check in third overall with 100 points.
Reinhardt University (81 points) and Bryan College (65 points) round out the top five. Newcomer Allen University received the remaining first-place vote as it ended up in a tie for sixth with Milligan College as both picked up 59 points.
Making up the rest of the field are: Truett McConnell University (43 points), Point University (41 points), St. Andrews University (37 points) and Montreat College (23 points).
The 2017 AAC Tournament is set for Feb. 22-25 at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
2016 AAC Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll
School (1st Place Votes)