The 2014-2015 season for the Tennessee Tech men’s basketball team officially begins tonight against the Piedmont International University Bruins.
The Golden Eagles easily took down their exhibition opponent Bluefield College 93-54 on Nov. 6. Tech received a tremendous boost from their bench against the Rams. Non-starters accounted for 53 of the team’s 93 points. The Golden Eagle bench nearly tied the total points scored by Bluefield College.
The impressive performance may have been fueled by the eagerness of a team filled with newcomers ready to show everyone how good they are. New faces on this year’s edition of the Golden Eagles include junior college transfers: Torrence Rowe, Charles Jackson and Ryan Martin who is redshirted for this year. Three true freshmen: Aleksa Jugovic, Josh Bougher and Savonte Frazier are also part of this year’s team.
For senior guard/forward Javon Mckay, the game was a chance to see how hard work during a long offseason would translate to the court.
“Seeing us work as hard as we did this offseason, it [the beginning of the season] was definitely something to look forward to and just to see how well we will do this year,” said Mckay.
Piedmont International will provide a test for the Golden Eagle’s big men. Head coach Steve Payne plans to utilize post players in his scheme.
“I am anxious to see how we handle pressure and how we defend smaller guys,” said Payne. “We are playing two true post players almost all the time. So when we play teams that go with a four guard line up, how we defend those guys will be very important.”
Piedmont International is a team that “plays small,” meaning they utilize their smaller player’s quickness and efficiency from the perimeter. The challenge for Tech is going to be trying to defend smaller and quicker players on the perimeter with bigger players who are built for the inside game.
The Bruins have scorched their opponents so far this season, averaging over 94 points a game through four contests, but the Golden Eagles will be a sizable step up in competition for them. Piedmont is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. It is a rare occurrence for the Bruins to face a National Collegiate Athletic Association team, which may add some extra motivation. Coach Payne does not want the Golden Eagles to overlook their opponent.
“I think it will be a very good test for us in the opening game,” said Payne. “We will be ready to play. You cannot fall asleep those games.”
“Those guys are on scholarships. They are college basketball players and they are good players,” said Payne. “If you come out and you are not ready to play, you can have some problems on your hands.”
Tonight’s game is the home opener for the Golden Eagles. They will be looking to continue an impressive streak of home openers with a 39-1 record since 1974. Their next game will be a huge road test at the PAC-10’s University of Southern California.