By Joseph Wetzler, Staff Writer
The 2012-13 Men’s Basketball team has many new faces.
Red-shirt freshman John Brown and graduate student Allan Chaney have led the Panthers through the first month of the season. The Panthers have looked strong out of the gate picking up some quality wins over UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State.
The two losses have come against very good teams in William & Mary and Indiana State University.
Gone are Nick Barbour and Shay Shine, two players who gave HPU Basketball national attention with emphatic play, but it looks as if we have entered the John Brown era.
Brown, who sat out all of last year, has led the Panthers in scoring with 18.2 points per game, while grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game. In just five games, he has made ESPN’s Sports Center’s Top 10 twice. He’s even been tweeted at by Sports Center’s Twitter account.
Brown posted game-highs of 28 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three blocks in his collegiate debut to lead High Point to an 81- 73 win over UNC Greensboro.
Chaney, playing with a defibrillator in his chest, is averaging 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He has looked strong in his first action since 2009.
Another newcomer, Derrell Edwards, has made an impact in his first season as a Panther. Edwards transferred from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas where he helped lead the team to the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association national title. Edwards has chipped in with 5.6 PPG thus far.
Senior guard Jairus Simms and junior guard Justin Cheek round out the starting five. They return as the only members of the starting five who played for HPU last season.
HPU got back junior forward Corey Law in the game against St. Andrew’s University on Nov. 21, after he was out with an injury for the first three games.
Sophomore Devante Wallace, who contributed a great deal down the stretch a season ago, has also been out due to injury and the Panthers hope to get him back towards the end of December.
The Panthers are a young team and as they play more games and gain more experience, the team will become more successful.
“Just because we’ve won some games doesn’t mean we automatically become juniors and seniors,” said coach Scott Cherry, “I feel very good about my group of guys.”
The Panthers have a tough non-conference schedule for the rest of the season. They will face Western Michigan again at home, along with Eastern Kentucky and cross-town rival Wake Forest tonight in Winston Salem.
The team is still learning to play with one another, and with so many new pieces joining the team, it will take a while for them to fully click. So far, the team has done a phenomenal job learning each other’s tendencies.
“Our main focus is on defense. Our offense is going to come. We have guys that can shoot the ball and a bench that can come in and create shots as well,” said Edwards.
Cherry is hoping his team can perform well in the non-conference games to show the country that HPU can play with anyone. Cherry is also hoping to make a run in the Big South Conference and land the conference’s automatic-bid into the NCAA Tournament.