CNU CAPTAINS TIP-OFFS 2007-08 | 10-16, 6-6 USA South
Last NCAA appearance: 2006
Last USA South regular-season title: 2005-06
Coach | C.J. Woollum (25th year, 469-199)
Home court | The Freeman Center (3,100)
Season opener | Nov. 22 vs. Southern Virginia
USA South opener | Jan. 14 at Shenandoah
THREE KEYS TO THE SEASON
Defense: The Captains gave up 82 points per game last year. Woollum started this season's first practice with defensive drills. "We've made it very clear that we need to be better defensively than we were last year," Woollum said.
Get Barton back: CNU senior point guard Davon Barton, a first-team all-conference pick, will be six months removed from surgery on the torn ACL in his right knee when the season starts. CNU will need his 18 points and 7.2 assists per game.
Blend the old with the new: Barton, senior Thomas Whinnett and third-year player Theo Baker are among a returning cast who will have to meld with four freshmen, including sharpshooter Ryan Barbosa and 6-foot-8, 215-pound Loren Farris.
THREE BIG GAMES
Nov. 28, CNU Invitational: The Captains will play Roanoke in the first round of their annual tournament, which also features Wesley and Otterbein.
Dec. 27, Cactus Jam Hoop Classic: CNU will take on Lewis & Clark, Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Old Westbury in the Phoenix tournament.
Jan. 14, at Shenandoah: The Captains open USA South play against a team that posted an identical 6-6 conference record last season.
THREE TOP RETURNERS
Jr. | 6-8 | Center
He missed last season after averaging 10.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 3.7 blocks as a sophomore.
Sr. | 6-2 | Guard
Barton has yet to be cleared for live drills after tearing his ACL. Before his injury, he averaged 18 points and 7.2 assists.
Jr. | 6-5 | Forward
Green joined the Captains mid-year after spending the fall semester at community college.
Fr. | 6-2 | Guard
Barbosa scored more than 2,500 points at StoneBridge School in Chesapeake, and "in a game of HORSE, should beat all (his teammates)," Woollum said.
The Captains have the talent to make their 17th postseason appearance in Woollum's 25th season, but much will depend on Barton. Doctors will re-evaluate him on Nov. 20, the sixth-month anniversary of his second surgery. In the meantime, he's running, shooting and staying in shape. Blasingame will have to pick up where he left off and provide an intimidating post presence to take the pressure off CNU's guards, and Whinnett, Baker and Green will all need to contribute. "You take any of those pieces out, and we're not as good as I think we're gonna be," Woollum said.
Two-time defending tournament champion Averett was picked to repeat in the USA South preseason poll, while the Captains were picked third. "The league is just very competitive," Woollum said. " ... There are no gimmees. Used to be, there were a couple of games you could pretty much put in the ledger that were going to be wins."
THREE FROM THE PAST
Woollum took a pass on the question — "I can think of some, and I can think of some times they let us down, too." CNU's media guide is clearer. David Powell holds the school record for 3-point shooting in a season (.460, 1995-96) and a career (.397, 1994-98).
THREE FOR THE PRESENT
Again, a little waffling from the coach — "TBD. We'll see how they do when they get under fire." Thomas Whinnett led the Captains with a .390 3-point percentage, making 39 of his 100 attempts. Baker shot .377, and Barton .373.
— Melinda Waldrop