LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- With a roster that looks very different from last season, the Covenant men's basketball team will seek its fourth straight winning season when the 2018-19 season gets underway.
The Scots officially open the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 10 with a trip to face Birmingham Southern (6 p.m. EST).
Second-year head coach Neal Young has just seven returners from last year's team that went 18-10, tying a program record for winning percentage, and advanced to the USA South Tournament championship game. Young and his staff filled out the 16-man roster with six freshmen and three sophomore transfers to round out a team that is talented, but has been working hard over the last three-plus weeks to build chemistry.
The competition will again be steep for the Scots this year. Covenant was picked third in a very tight West Division of the USA South in the league's preseason poll.
The Scots have just two seniors in Bailey Spragg and Nick Palmer. Spragg is one of two returning starters for Covenant, joining James Mitchell, and was a major key to the Scots' success in 2017-18 after averaging 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 3.2 steals per game. Palmer had his best season as a Scot last year when he played in 27 games and averaged 5.1 points and 1.9 assists.
Mitchell, a junior, is a threat from anywhere on the court. The junior tied for the NCAA Division III statistical title in 3-pointers made last season as he dropped a program record 121, while making treys at a 44.5 percent clip. Jared Jauch, Mitchell Hollis, and William Bryan all saw significant time in 2017-18 and will be relied upon to not only produce on the court but to provide leadership to the new faces.
The only returning sophomore is 6-foot-9 Will Crumly. The sophomore had a standout season in his rookie campaign as he averaged 9.3 points, while shooting 50.3 percent from the field, with 4.1 rebounds per game. Crumly was a three-time USA South Rookie of the Week honoree.
The new faces are numerous for the Scots. Three players transferred into the program as sophomores Noah Oetjen, Ryan Gilbert, and Tavian Roundtree enter their first years as Scots. Oetjen played in 30 games and averaged 7.2 points as a freshman at Cincinnati Christian last season.
The freshman class includes Jackson Fitzgerald, Gage Henry, Promise Igbanu, Daevon Platt, Tim Snoddy, and Bryce Watts. A combination of size and skill highlights the class that could make an immediate impact on the team.
With 18 conference games scheduled, the bulk of the schedule includes regular foes and rivals. The Scots will face a key, three-game USA South home stretch after Thanksgiving Break as LaGrange comes to Lookout Mountain on Nov. 30, followed by Huntingdon on Dec. 1 and Piedmont on Dec. 5.
The home opener is set for Nov. 13 when Centre travels to Barnes PE Center. The Scots will also face non-conference foes Sewanee (Nov. 20) and Oglethorpe (Dec. 15) at home.
Covenant will go out of regular season play for a night to play an exhibition at NCAA Division I Lipscomb, a tournament team in 2018, on Dec. 17. The Scots then travel to Texas for three games against Louisiana College (Dec. 28), Mary Hardin-Baylor (Dec. 29), and Concordia (Jan. 1).
Senior Day is set for Feb. 16 against rival Maryville to cap the regular season.
The USA South Tournament begins on Feb. 19 as the top four teams in each division qualify and the top two seeds host first round games. The semifinals and championship are set for Feb. 22-23 at the highest remaining seed.
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