By James Harden, TCC Sports Information
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (November 1, 2013) – The Tallahassee Community College (TCC) men’s basketball team will play two games in the Quality Inn Classic to begin the 2013-2014 season. The tournament is hosted by Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla.
On Friday, November 1, the Eagles will face Lurleen B. Wallace (Ala.) Community College and the following day they will take on Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College. Both games have start times of 4:30 pm EST.
The Eagles come into the season nationally ranked at No. 23 and tied for No. 3 (with Northwest Florida State) in the state of Florida according to the Florida College System Activities Association’s (FCSAA) Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
Head coach Eddie Barnes is very optimistic about this season and pointed out two players he expects to step into leadership roles.
“Sophomore transfers forward Cameron Naylor (University of North Florida) and guard Earvin Morris (Kent State University) have shown outstanding strength and character both on and off the court,” said Barnes.
Although there are some players who may stand out, Barnes expects good team play to help make this a successful season.
“We have a system in which we depend on each other and we try to have each other’s back,” Barnes added.”
In addition to the high rankings, Tallahassee boasts a winning record (1-0) against both season-opening opponents. The Eagles defeated LBW in the two schools’ only previous meeting, 86-55 on November 5, 2004. The Saints went 8-16 last year and hope to turn things around this season.
The only other time the Eagles played the Bucks was over a decade ago when Tallahassee came out victorious, 79-51. This year’s match between the two teams stands to be one to remember due to the fact that the Bucks won the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) tournament last year and advanced to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
Friday and Saturday’s games will offer contrasting legacies in the coaching ranks. Barnes is entering his 13th season at Tallahassee (23rd NJCAA season overall) and the Saints are led by Ricky Knight who is entering his 27th season as head coach. While those coaches have been in their current positions for 40 years combined, the Bucks are breaking in first-year coach Matt Sligh, who most recently spent the last three years of his coaching career at William Jewell College as the top assistant coach.
After going 15-13 last season, Barnes and the Eagles are poised to make major advances and it starts in Niceville, Fla., where they hope to add two notches to the win column.
The remainder of the season will also be a true test as the schedule includes two other Panhandle Conference schools that are ranked in the preseason Top 25 – No.7 Chipola College and No. 10 Northwest Florida State – as well as two non-conference opponents who appear on the Eagles’ slate – No. 11 East Mississippi Community College and No. 24 Southwest Tennessee Community College.