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Men's Hoops Review

Men's Hoops Review

By Byron Mitchell '14

WINCHESTER, Va. - The Shenandoah University men's basketball program entered a new era of competition this winter as the 12th member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

After 20 years of play in the Dixie/USA South Conference, the Hornets transitioned this winter into the more competitive ODAC.

SU finished the 2011-12 season, its first under Rob Pryor, with a 5-22 overall record and a 2-10 mark in the USA South. However, Pryor's club managed to upset North Carolina Wesleyan 72-68 in the first round of the conference tournament before ended its run in the league with a semi-final round loss at Greensboro College.

Shenandoah came into the 2012-13 season picked to finish last in this year's ODAC race. Unfortunately for the Hornets, the prediction proved true as the team finished 3-23 overall and 0-16 in the ODAC.

Pryor and his club suffered through a rocky season that ended with the team losing 19 straight games dating back to a 91-62 ODAC loss to eventual NCAA Tournament team Hampden-Sydney.

The Tigers were one of four teams that SU faced this season that was selected to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to those four teams, Pryor's squad also faced Division I Virginia Military Institute in a regular season contest and DII West Virginia Wesleyan in an exhibition game.

The search for the first-ever ODAC victory came so close in the final two road contests - SU had an 11-point lead midway through the second half of the Roanoke contest on Feb 9th befoee falling 65-61.

One week later at Washington and Lee, the lead was eight points in final 2:09, but the Generals were able to rally for a 61-60 win.

Despite the losses, this young and talented squad has proven to possess the tools in place for a successful program.

Jared Carithers, a transfer from Lynchburg College, was the team's most explosive offensive playmaker this season and led the team with a 13.0 points per game average.

Junior Bryce Mitchell, the team captain, brought an aggressive defensive presence to the court.

Mitchell finished third on the team in total points scored, 177, and had a season-high 17 points in the February 6 Bridgewater College matchup.

Sophomore Eli McEathron found his way into the starting rotation late in the season and proved to be a reliable shooter from beyond the arc, shooting a third-best-in-the-ODAC 43.6 percent on the year.

SU's talented freshman class, highlighted by Sharif Almulla and Shaquille Rodney, played a vital role.

Almulla, a guard, started in all 26 games and became the team's go-to three-point shooter, canning a team-high 58.

He was also second on the team in points per game, 9.8.

Rodney scored 6.1 points per contest and was second behind sophomore Xavier Alston in rebounding.

The squad does not lose any players to graduation and looks forward to continuing its competition in one of the toughest DIII leagues in the nation.

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