The start of basketball season doesn't
come with the same fanfare that football
does in the deep south. Some fans think
there isn't as much riding on each game
and some argue college basketball season
doesn't really start to matter until
conference play begins. Still, there is
usually some excitement in the weeks
before the season and this season is no
There seem to be a little more of buzz
around Flowers Hall as we approach the
opening weekend for UNA Basketball. It
seems Lion fans have been able to remain
excited about the success of the UNA
Football team while also gearing up for
the hardwood season.
Five things to look for in the upcoming
1. Seniors must step up. Forwards Bruce
Adams (14.4 ppg/8.3 rpg), Rashaun
Claiborne (14.0 ppg/6.4 rpg) and Wes
Long (8.1 ppg/3.1 rpg) must increase
their scoring and rebound production
from a year ago. Senior guards Marquel
Darrington and Tyler Pritchard need to
lead the team and cut down on turnovers.
Overall, all of these players must
become more efficient. As a group, these
five returners, shot .384 from the
field, .318 from the three-point line
and had 240 turnovers to only 201
2. Improve Field Goal Percentage. The
Lions shot just .405 from the field last
season and only .317 from the
three-point line. These numbers will
need to increase as to not put too much
pressure on the defense that forced over
eighteen turnovers per game last season.
Darrington and Claiborne led the team in
steals with 58 and 49 each.
3. Finish Strong. The Lions got off to
one of the best starts in school history
in 2012 with a 8 and 0 start but lost
six of their final 10 games. The quick
start and the strong in-region schedule
propelled the team into the NCAA
Tournament for thirteenth time in school
history. The Lions will have the same
opportunity with 26 South Region games
on the schedule.
4. Find Team Chemistry. This team needs
a leader and a consistent bench. Much of
last seasons' success can be attributed
to the tight-knit group the Lions had
both on and off the court. They will
need to recapture that chemistry if they
want to be the first team to go to back
to back NCAA tournaments since 1995-96.
Junior Nathan Spehr (5.8 ppg/1.6rpg) and
Sophomore Jere Vucica 3.1 ppg/3.0rpg),
will need to be more consistent than a
year ago. Newcomer Calvin Dade must
provide some low post presence with the
graduation of DeAndre Hersey and his
14.4 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per
game and team-leading 26 blocks .
5. Maintain focus. The Lions were picked
to win the Gulf South Conference and
received enough votes to earn a 23rd
ranking in the NABC pre-season poll.
There will likely be many UNA fans
patting these players on the back and
telling them how good they are. The
Lions can't let external expectations
distract them from their goals or allow
complacency to set in.
"I'm excited to get the season started
and looking forward to seeing this team
improve as the season progresses,"
Champagne said. "Our schedule is
extremely tough and we open with two
very good in-region opponents," he
continued. "It's nice to have so many
in-region games on our schedule, but it
is really like playing a conference game
right out of the shoot." The UNA Lions
play Stillman on Saturday and Fort
Valley State on Sunday in the GSC/SIAC
The top three teams in the final NABC/Division
II poll head up the pre-season rankings
for the 2013-14 season, but it is the
national runner-up, Metropolitan State,
that heads the rankings as the season is
set to begin next week.
The Roadrunners, who lost 74-73 to Drury
in last April's national championship
game and are the pre-season favorites to
win the Rocky Mountain Athletic
Conference title this season, received
10 of the 16 first place votes in the
poll. Last year's second-ranked team at
the end of the year, Seattle Pacific, is
No. 2 to start this season and the
top-ranked squad in the final poll a
year ago, West Liberty, is third as it
is coming off its third straight
appearance at the Elite Eight.
Bellarmine, the 2011 national champion
and 2012 semifinalist, will open in the
fourth spot, while Minnesota State came
in at No. 5 and South Carolina Aiken at
No. 6 in the pre-season. Cal Poly Pomona
is seventh in the poll and defending
national champion Drury will start the
season at No. 8, with Florida Southern
and Western Washington rounding out the
Every team in the pre-season top ten
either played in the Elite Eight last
season or reached a regional
championship game with the exception of
Cal Poly Pomona, who lost in the West
Regional semifinals to Seattle Pacific.
The second 10 opens with Findlay,
followed by Kentucky Wesleyan,
Midwestern State, Indiana (Pa.) and
Lincoln Memorial. Saint Anselm is ranked
16th in the pre-season, with
Northeastern State, Southern Indiana,
Alabama-Huntsville and Winona State
completing the top 20.
The final five teams in the pre-season
poll are Winston-Salem State,
Carson-Newman, North Alabama,
Livingstone and Harding.
The 2013-14 season will begin with games
across the nation on Friday, Nov. 8.
When University of North Alabama men's
basketball head coach Bobby Champagne
opens practice on October 15, he knows
that even with eleven returners and only
five new players on the roster, the
first few practices will show some
After pre-season conditioning, the
annual Boot Camp and a few individual
skill sessions, Champagne has seen some
struggles but signs of growth as well.
"I'm very pleased," Champagne said.
"We've continued to make strides; our
main focus has been to keep our energy
and effort at a consistently high level.
I'm really encouraged that even though
we've struggled picking things up as
quickly as I would have hoped. The guys
are somewhat buying in and trying to do
what we're asking them to do as a staff.
I'm very encouraged about the direction
"I'd give pre-season conditioning a
'C,'" Champagne said. "I'm really
excited about the players' talent level.
But if we want to be a
championship-level team, then we need to
bring energy and effort every day.
Talent will only take us so far."
While the team hasn't had to absorb a
lot of information thus far, Champagne
said it will only get more intense in
the coming weeks.
"For me every year is just like starting
from scratch, we can't assume that the
players remember anything from past
seasons and need to teach like it is a
brand new team. How quickly their
memories kick in will determine when we
can install certain things and put in
different drills. It's always a work in
progress. We are all learning and trying
to get better together."
Champagne said that while both the
returning players and newcomers have
some roadblocks to overcome, everyone
will need to push through the adversity.
"A couple of the newcomers, to be quite
honest, are fighting through and
persevering better than the returning
guys," Champagne noted. "The older guys
have been complacent at times and
haven't always pushed through or led the
team like we would expect. We have a
long way to go, but we are excited about
where we can end up."
Union overcame a four-point deficit in
the final minute of overtime to stun the
University of North Alabama men’s
basketball team 101-99 Saturday evening
in Jackson, Tenn. With the loss, UNA
falls to 17-5 on the season and 10-4 in
Gulf South Conference play.
Four UNA players reached double figures
in scoring, but the Lions could never
pull away in the second half. Union led
46-42 at the break and neither team led
by more than four points over the final
20 minutes of play in a game that
featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes.
Marquel Darrington scored a career-high
26 points while DeAndre Hersey scored 22
points and pulled down 10 rebounds for
North Alabama. Bruce Adams added 19
points on the night while Nathan Spehr
rounded out the top UNA scorers with 13
UNA will travel to Rome, Ga., on
Thursday for another GSC contest against
After posting a 1-1 record on the week,
the University of North Alabama men’s
basketball team dropped two spots, but
remained ranked in the National
Basketball Coaches Association (NABC)
Top 25 Poll.
With 44 total points, the Lions check in
at No. 24 to give the team its first
back-to-back appearances in the poll
since the 2007-08 season. The ranking is
the third of the year for North Alabama
after entering the NABC poll at No. 23
on Dec. 4 and holding a No. 22 spot last
Metropolitan State retained the top spot
in the rankings while Western
Washington, West Liberty, Cal Poly
Pomona and Seattle Pacific rounded out
the top five. Fellow GSC member
Alabama-Huntsville rose two spots to No.
UNA is 17-4 on the season and will play
a GSC road game at Union on Saturday.
Tip-off time is set for 4 p.m. on the
Union campus in Jackson, Tenn.
After dropping an 87-73 home game to
Christian Brothers on Thursday, the
University of North Alabama men’s
basketball team rebounded by posting a
73-54 win over Delta State Saturday
afternoon at Flowers Hall.
The Gulf South Conference split gives
the Lions a 17-4 record on the season
with a 9-3 league mark. UNA trails
Alabama-Huntsville by a single game in
the conference standings.
Against the Statesmen, Rashaun Claiborne
scored 21 points and pulled down eight
rebounds to lead UNA. The Lions used a
dominating performance on the boards to
defeat DSU for the sixth straight game.
UNA held a commanding 42-24 advantage in
rebounding, including 17 offensive
boards leading to 18 second-chance
points. UNA was also 21-of-27 from the
free throw line. North Alabama led 26-22
at the half despite shooting just 26
percent from the floor in the first 20
minutes of play.
Claiborne scored 14 points in the second
half as the Lions’ offense came alive.
UNA shot 44.4 percent and finished with
73 points-the most Delta State has
yielded in GSC play this season. Bruce
Adams added 13 points and a game-high
nine rebounds for the Lions.
Christian Brothers continued its recent
dominance over the UNA Men by extending
its streak to eight straight games in
the series. Pat Graham hit nine
three-point baskets and finished with a
game-high 31 points to lead the
Buccaneers. For the game, the Buccaneers
finished with 13 three-pointers.
UNA was just 4-of-24 from long-point
range and did not make a three-pointer
until Wes Long connected with 9:51 to
play. Claiborne finished with 14 points
to lead the Lions. Long added 11 points
on the night while Adams and Tyler
Pritchard had 10 points each.
UNA will play at Union next Saturday.
Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. on the UU
campus in Jackson, Tenn.
Two road victories by a combined three
points kept North Alabama tied for first
place in the GSC standings last week. A
two-point win at West Florida on
Thursday followed by a one-point
thriller at Valdosta State gives the
Lions a 16-3 overall record and 9-2 mark
in GSC play. UNA will host Christian
Brothers and Delta State this week.
Against UWF, Marquel Darrington scored
24 points, including a pair of free
throws with 5.9 seconds remaining to
lift the Lions to an 82-80 win. In a
game that featured 15 ties and 13 lead
changes, West Florida was poised for the
upset after rallying from a 34-32
deficit at the half. A desperation
three-pointer, however, was off the mark
as time expired. DeAndre Hersey added 12
points and seven rebounds for North
Alabama while Nathan Spehr was 3-for-3
from three-point range and added a pair
of free throws to finish with 11 points
on the night. Rashaun Claiborne rounded
out the top scorers for the Lions with
At Valdosta State, Hersey scored the
go-ahead basket with 17 seconds
remaining and the Lions blocked two
shots on the Blazers’ final possession
to preserve a 74-73 win. North Alabama
led by as many as 17 in the first half
before taking a 39-36 lead into the
break. VSU was able to stay within
striking distance by hitting 24-of-29
free throw attempts. Neither team led by
more than four points in the second
half; the final 15 minutes of play
featured eight ties and seven lead
changes. Bruce Adams connected on 10
shots from the floor and finished with a
game-high 23 points. Hersey added 13
points on the night while Nathan Spehr
also reached double figures with 12
points for the Lions.
A pair of Gulf South Conference
victories last week kept North Alabama
tied for first place in the league
standings. UNA defeated West Georgia on
the road before returning home to down
The Lions will begin the second half of
their GSC schedule by traveling to West
Florida and Valdosta State this week.
Against UWG, the Lions watched a
13-point lead slip away in the second
half before out-scoring the Wolves 13-8
in overtime to get an 80-75 road win.
UNA led 39-33 at the half and held a
51-38 advantage with 13:45 remaining
before the Wolves rallied to tie the
game at 67-67 in the final minute.
DeAndre Hersey led the Lions with 21
points and also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Bruce Adams added 19 points and 14
rebounds on the night for his second
double-double of the year while Rashaun
Claiborne rounded out the top scorers
for North Alabama with 18 points.
After committing a season-high 25
turnovers against West Georgia, the
Lions turned the ball over a season-low
seven times the following game against
West Alabama. Adams and Hersey again
came up big with 21 and 14 points
respectively. Both players also added
double-digit rebound performances.
After trailing 37-34 at the break, UNA
regained the lead early in the second
half but could not pull away. The Lions
led 70-67 in the final minute of play
before connecting on four straight free
throws down the stretch to secure the
win. UNA received 24 votes in this
week’s NABC poll.
Okay, so it has been a while since I
have updated you on what is happening
with your UNA Lions. Things got a little
hectic towards the end of the semester
with finals and all that goes along with
the end of the semester. No excuses,
just results so here you go...
Unfortunately, our last game before the
Christmas break was a 71-68 loss at the
hands of Tennessee Temple. This was our
first loss of the season and it
definitely put a damper on our hopes of
heading into the break undefeated and
ranked in the Top 25. An 8 and 1 record
and 2-0 in the league was a heck of a
lot better than a lump of coal.
Most importantly, we had a very strong
academic semester with one of our
highest semester grade point averages in
Coming back from a 22 day lay-off you
would expect the team to be a little out
of shape, we were, but we were able to
post a 2-1 record during the Christmas
break. The Lions knocked off Georgia
Southwestern at home before splitting a
GSC road trip - losing to Christian
Brothers and defeating Delta State to
improve to 10-2 on the season with a 2-1
mark in GSC play.
Against GSW, four players reached double
figures in scoring and the UNA defense
forced 21 turnovers in the 74-65 win.
The Lions converted the 21 GSW miscues
into 19 points to rally from a 34-33
deficit at the half. DeAndre Hersey
scored 16 of his game-high 20 points
over the final 20 minutes of play.
Rashaun Claiborne and Bruce Adams had
five steals each and also added 15 and
14 points respectively for the Lions.
Wes Long rounded out the scoring with 11
points for North Alabama.
In the loss to CBU, the Bucs limited UNA
to 5-of-33 shooting in the first half to
build a 23-16 lead at the break, then
shot a blistering 73 percent from the
floor over the final 20 minutes of play
to pull away for a 69-54 win. Adams
finished with 12 points to lead North
Alabama while Corey Ricks scored 11
points and Long rounded out the top
scorers for the Lions with 10 points.
Following the loss, Coach Josh Pastner
of the University of Memphis was kind
enough to allow our team to use their
practice facility on Friday morning.
This allowed us to stay in Memphis and
gave us an opportunity to take in a
Memphis Grizzlies game. For some of our
players it was the first NBA game for
them to see in person. I personally
enjoyed seeing my friend Dale Osborne
who is an assistant coach for the
Portland Trailblazers. Following the
short trip to Beal Street, it was back
to business and down the Blues Highway
for our match-up with Delta State.
We were able to get a 69-53 win over DSU.
DeAndre Hersey scored 26 points and
pulled down seven rebounds. The senior
transfer from South Alabama, scored 17
points in the second half as the Lions
pulled away. UNA led 28-17 at the break
before going 15-of-22 (68.2 percent)
from the floor in the second half.
Marquel Darrington added 11 points for
UNA, who committed a season-low eight
turnovers as a team. Keynan Jackson
added six assists and three steals for
North Alabama will return home for
another key GSC game next Saturday
against Union. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
at Flowers Hall. We are hosting our 10th
Annual Champagne Brunch prior to the
Not making any promises, but I will
attempt to give a weekly update as we
get into more of routine.
Yours in Hoops,
Here to see the Top 25
FLORENCE – Nathan Spehr’s three-point
basket with four seconds remaining in
overtime lifted the University of North
Alabama men's basketball team to a 95-94
victory over Valdosta State Saturday
afternoon at Flowers Hall. The win kept
the Lions undefeated at 7-0 and
represented the first loss of the season
for the 6-1 Blazers. UNA also improves
to 2-0 in Gulf South Conference play.
The dramatic finished capped a game that
featured 16 ties and 19 lead changes.
Valdosta State's David Murray connected
on a three-pointer at the regulation
buzzer to tie the game at 86-86 and
force the extra period.
In overtime, VSU held a 93-90 lead with
27 seconds remaining after hitting a
three-point shot from the top of the
key. The Lions got a layup from Bruce
Adams at the other end before
immediately fouling to send the Blazers
to the free throw line. Shaquille Harris
connected on one of two foul shots,
leaving the lead at two points and
setting up Spehr's game-winner.
Each team had six players reach double
figures in scoring. Adams had a
game-high 24 points and added a
team-best eight rebounds for North
Alabama. The junior from Leavenworth,
KS, was also 10-of-11 from the free
throw line. Rashaun Claiborne added 19
points for UNA while Spehr's
game-winning shot gave him 12 points on
the day. DeAndre Hersey and Wes Long
finished with 11 points each while
Marquel Darrington rounded out the top
scorers for the Lions with 10 points
adding 5 assists. Keynan Jackson did not
score for the Lions but he dished out 9
assist and had 2 steals.
Valdosta State was led by Harris, who
finished with 23 points. James Anacrean
added 22 points while Josh Sparks had 14
points, 16 rebounds and nine blocked
shots on the day.
UNA shot 37 percent in the first half
and trailed 40-38 at the break. A
16-of-34 shooting effort over the final
20 minutes kept the team within striking
distance of the Blazers. The Lions
finished the game with a season-high 14
The 7-0 start is the best start for a
UNA team since Gary Elliott's 1990-91
team. That team started out 8-0 and
finished the year 29-4 on the way to the
school’s second national championship
for men’s basketball.
UNA will host Oakwood on Tuesday.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at Flowers
Nov. 30, 2012
Despite shooting 3-for-16 from
three-point range, the University of
North Alabama men’s basketball team
opened Gulf South Conference play with a
67-55 home win over West Florida
Thursday evening to improve to 6-0 on
the season. The Lions continue to show
that they are capable of winning games
in a variety of ways.
The win sets up a Saturday afternoon
matchup against 6-0 Valdosta State. The
6-0 start is the best for UNA in
Champagne’s 10 years as head coach and
the best start for UNA since coach Gary
Elliot’s 2000-01 started the season 9-0.
With shots not falling against the
Argonauts, UNA turned to its defense.
The Lions forced 24 turnovers on the
night that led to 28 points. West
Florida struggled even more from long
range, connecting on just 2-of-12
attempts. UNA finished with 18 steals,
with Rashaun Claiborne and Marquel
Darrington getting four steals each.
North Alabama raced out to an early 23-7
lead before UWF began to close the gap.
The Argonauts used a 16-8 run to cut the
deficit to 21-23 at the break.
In the second half, West Florida got to
within a single point but could never
tie or take the lead. A pair of UWF free
throws made the score 43-42 with 12:13
remaining. The Lions responded with five
straight points, including four from
Bruce Adams to regain a 48-42 advantage
at the 9:46 mark.
Leading 59-54 with 3:41 remaining, the
Lions secured the win by closing the
game on an 8-1 run. Nathan Spehr put it
away with four straight free throws.West
Florida was held without a field goal
over the final 4:10 of play.
Adams and Marquel Darrington scored 19
points each to lead UNA. Rashaun
Claiborne added 10 points for the Lions.
Despite a poor shooting night from the
field the Lions were able to connect on
16 of 20 free throws. Adams also led the
Lions in rebounding with seven followed
by Deandre Hersey’s six rebounds. Lonnie
Smith and Keynan Jackson had 5 rebounds
each. Jackson had 4 assists for UNA.
Tip-off time for the Valdosta State game
has been changed to 2 p.m. at Flowers
Nov. 16, 2012
After leading at by as many as 22 points
in the second half, the University of
North Alabama men’s basketball team held
off a Morehouse rally to come away with
an 89-74 win Friday evening at the
GSC-SIAC Challenge in Carrollton, Ga.
With the win, the Lions improve to 2-0
on the season.
Four players reached double figures in
scoring for UNA, including Bruce Adams,
who finished with 22 points and 10
rebounds. Rashaun Claiborne added 18
points for the Lions while DaAndre
Hersey also turned in a double-double
with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Marquel Darrington rounded out the top
scorers for North Alabama with 12 points
after going 10-for-12 at the free throw
UNA led 49-26 at the break and extended
its lead to 52-30 in the early moments
of the second half. The Tigers, however,
were able to cut into the deficit. A
three-point basket by Austin Anderson
cut the UNA lead to five points with
just over four minutes play.
The Lions answered with three straight
scores to push the lead back to double
figures. Free throw shooting helped
North Alabama maintain its lead down the
stretch. As a team, the Lions were
23-of-25 from the foul line, including a
17-of-18 performance in the second half.
UNA also held a commanding 43-29
advantage in rebounding.
North Alabama will remain in Carrollton
to face Miles on Saturday. Tip-off time
is set for 4:30 p.m. EST at The Coliseum
on the UWG campus.
Nov. 12, 2012
DeAndre Hersey scored 20 points to lead
the University of North Alabama men’s
basketball team to a 92-67 win over Fisk
Monday evening at Flowers Hall. The
senior transfer from South Alabama
helped the Lions get the 2012-13 season
off to a 1-0 start, giving head coach
Bobby Champagne an 8-2 record in
season-openers during his 10 seasons
with the Lions.
After taking a 43-33 lead into the
break, UNA was able hold off the
Bulldogs over the final 20 minutes of
play. The Lions kept a double digit lead
throughout the second half, leading by
as many as 26 with 3:06 remaining.
Bench scoring proved to be a big factor
in the game, with UNA holding a 51-7
advantage in the category. A total of 10
different players scored for the Lions,
including Rashaun Claiborne and Bruce
Adams who netted 14 points each.
Claiborne wrapped up a double-double
performance with 12 rebounds while Corey
Ricks rounded out the top scorers for
North Alabama with 11 points on the
UNA took 28 three-point attempts,
connecting on only seven for the game.
Lonnie Smith was 3-for-5 from long
The North Alabama men’s and women’s
basketball programs celebrated Military
Appreciation Night on Monday. Members of
the United States armed services were
recognized at the half while coaching
staffs from both UNA teams donned
The Lions will be back in action this
weekend at the GSC-SIAC Challenge in
Carrollton, Ga. UNA will play Morehouse
at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 3
p.m. game Saturday against Miles.
Tip-off times are CST and will be played
at The Coliseum on the campus of the
University of West Georgia.
Nov. 10, 2012
Long Beach State fought off a North
Alabama charge early in the second half,
then maintained a double-digit lead down
the stretch for a 75-65 win over the
Lions Saturday in men’s basketball
exhibition play at Walter Pyramid on the
The Lions used some scrappy defense and
hustle in the opening minutes of the
game and the start of the second half to
keep within striking distance. UNA also
kept LBSU from scoring a field goal in
the final seven minutes of the game to
cut into the lead in the final minutes
of the game.
After trailing 44-31 at the break, UNA
opened the second half on an 11-0 run. A
three-point basket by Wes Long cut the
deficit to 44-42 with 17:23 remaining,
prompting a LBSC timeout. The 49ers,
however, responded with a 16-4 run of
their own to stretch the lead back to 14
points midway through the second half.
Long Beach State led by as many as 20
points in the second half before the
Lions made one last surge. Trailing
71-51 at the 7:07 mark, UNA was able to
cut the deficit in half in just under
five minutes. A three-pointer by Bruce
Adams made the score 73-63 with 2:23
remaining, but UNA could never get
within single digits.
Both teams suffered from turnovers
throughout the game. UNA committed 23 on
the day while LBSU had 26 miscues. The
49ers also held a 48-37 advantage in
North Alabama shot just 34.9 percent
from the floor, including an 8-of-29
mark from three-point range. Rashaun
Claiborne led the Lions with 17 points.
Long connected on four three-pointers
and finished with 13 points while Adams
also reached double figures with 10
points. Lonnie Smith was the leading
rebounder for UNA, grabbing 10 boards
for the game.
UNA will open the regular season with a
Veteran's Day Celebration Monday against
Fisk. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. at
The UNA Lions connected on 32 shots from
the field while the UAB Blazers tallied
35 makes on the night en route to a
98-81 loss to the Conference USA team.
UAB also used an advantage in rebounding
to hold off the University of North
Alabama men's basketball Saturday in
first exhibition game of the season. The
host Blazers held a 46-29 edge in the
category, including 18 on the offensive
end. Three-point shooting kept the Lions
in striking distance. UNA was 10-of-22
from beyond the arc, with six long-range
shots coming from Wes Long. The junior
from Summertown, Tenn., was 6-of-9 from
three-point range and finished a
game-high 20 points.
Three other players reached double
figures in scoring for North Alabama.
Bruce Adams recorded 18 points while
Marquel Darrington added 16 points on
the day. Rashaun Claiborne rounded out
the top scorers for the Lions with 11
points. Keynan Jackson led UNA with 10
The Blazers, who also had four players
reach double digits, led 48-32 at the
half. UAB led by as many as 20 in the
second half, but could never pull away.
The Lions connected on six
three-pointers over the final 20 minutes
of play and cut the deficit. UNA was
also very scrappy on the defensive end
of the court forcing 22 turnovers and
recording 8 steals.
In the second half, UNA cut the deficit
to single digits on a pair of free
throws by Darrington to make the score
67-58 with 9:49 remaining. UAB, however,
responded with a 13-4 run to stretch the
lead back to 17 points at the 6:31 mark.
North Alabama will play another
exhibition game next Saturday in
California. The Lions will take on Long
Beach State at 1 p.m. CST.
UNA PICKED TO FINISH FIFTH IN GSC
The University of North Alabama men's
basketball team was picked to finish
fifth in the Gulf South Conference
preseason poll released on Thursday. The
Lions received 26 points in the poll
voted on by head coaches from around the
UNA returns seven lettermen and only one
starter from last year's squad that
finished fifth in the GSC regular-season
standings. The Lions were 15-12 on the
season and lost to West Florida in the
opening round of the conference
tournament. The 2012-13 UNA team will
feature seven newcomers and must replace
a pair of All-South Region selections
lost to graduation.
Defending GSC champion and 2011-12 NCAA
Division II Elite Eight representative
Alabama-Huntsville was the
overwhelmingly favorite to repeat as
conference champions again this season.
The Chargers received all seven
first-place votes to finished with 49
Christian Brothers collected four
second-place votes and finished with 36
points for second place while West
Georgia (30 points) and West Alabama (29
points) were the other teams ranked
ahead of the Lions in the preseason
standings. Delta State and Valdosta
State each received 20 points to tie for
sixth place while West Florida rounded
out the poll with 14 points.
North Alabama will play road exhibition
games against UAB on Nov. 3 and Long
Beach State on Nov. 10 before opening
the regular season at home on Nov. 12
against Fisk. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
at Flowers Hall..
HERSEY TO CLOSE OUT COLLEGE CAREER
After graduating from the University of
South Alabama, 6-6 forward DeAndre
Hersey will play his final season of
eligibility with the North Alabama men's
basketball team. UNA head coach Bobby
Champagne said the latest addition to
the Lions will give the team some needed
size as well as more athleticism.
"DeAndre will be someone who can score
from different areas on the court," said
Champagne. "He is a shot blocker and a
rebounder who can play on the perimeter
or in the paint. He definitely gives us
another scoring threat."
Hersey prepped at Pickens County High
School, averaging 20.4 points, 10.2
rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game while
leading his team to a 21-9 record during
his senior season. He set the Tornadoes'
school record for blocked shots on their
way to the Class 2A AHSAA state
quarterfinals. He made 56 percent from
the field, including 34 percent from
beyond the three-point arc.
In addition to earning all-state honors
twice, he was named to the Tuscaloosa
News Super 5 as a junior and senior and
was selected Most Valuable Player in the
Hersey played in 20 games last season
for the South Alabama Jaguars averaging
more than seven minutes per game and
just under two points and two rebounds
As a freshman, he redshirted during the
2008-09 season and played in 30 games
the following year with two starts. He
scored 12 points and pulled down nine
rebounds vs. Florida International and
hit a game-winning shot at Florida on a
put-back with 1.8 seconds remaining.
In 2010-11 Hersey played in 26 games
with two starts. He averaged 2.5 points
and 2.2 rebounds during the season and
ranked 15th in the Sun Belt Conference
in blocks per game. He had five games
with two or more blocked shots.
Hersey is one of six players on the UNA
roster from Alabama. He is also the
sixth signee, joining Bruce Adams
(Leavenworth, Kan./Independence CC),
Rashaun Claiborne (Darrow, La./Delgado
CC), Lonnie Smith (Birmingham, Ala./LA
Tech), Jere Vucica (Split, Croatia/Santa
Fe CC) and Demetrice Jacobs (Harlem,
N.Y./Northwestern State) as the members
of the 2012 recruiting class.
Lonnie Smith is Fifth Signee of 2012
Bobby Champagne announced the addition
of Louisiana Tech transfer Lonnie Smith,
who was named second team all-state by
Alabama Sports Writers Association in
2010 following his senior season at
Ramsay High School in Birmingham,
Smith, a 6-5 guard, who will have two
years of eligibility remaining, broke
the LA Tech Bulldogs' school record for
best three-point percentage by a
freshman with 39.8 percent (8th best in
the WAC). He also had a season-high 19
points vs. Georgia State. In his
sophomore season, Smith played in 16
games he scored 13 points on 5-of-11
shooting including 3-for-6 from
three-point range, matched career-high
of seven rebounds and two steals and
dished out season-best three assists in
his only start of the season. He also
scored 10 points off the bench at
Southern Miss and grabbed four rebounds
against Utah State.
"Lonnie is going to fit right in with
our team," said Champagne. "He is
versatile and very athletic, a really
rangy player who can play multiple
positions. He'll give us another scoring
threat from the perimeter as well as
Smith averaged 17 points, nine rebounds
and two assists as a senior while
leading Ramsay High School to the
Alabama High School Association Class 4A
state championship. He was named
regionals MVP in 2008-09 earned
regionals all-tournament team honors in
2009-10 and was named to the Birmingham
City All-Tournament team in 2008, 2009
and 2010. He earned a spot in the annual
Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. He
was named rebound and defensive player
of the year at Ramsay and was named the
number six player in the Birmingham area
by the Birmingham News.
Smith joins Bruce Adams (Leavenworth,
KS/Independence CC), Rashaun Claiborne
(Darrow, Louisiana/Delgado CC), Jere
Vucica (Split, Croatia/Santa Fe CC) and
Demetrice Jacobs (Harlem,
NY/Northwestern State LA) as the members
of the 2012 recruiting class. UNA is
looking to replace five seniors from the
2011-12 team. The Lions lost their top
three scorers as well as the top four
Small Forward Adams Signs with the
The University of North Alabama added
one signee, four overall, with the
addition of 6'5" forward Bruce Adams.
Adams is a native of Leavenworth,
Kansas, where he was a standout for
Leavenworth High School. He played the
past two seasons at Independence
Community College in Kansas where he
averaged 12.8 points, 8.1 rebounds per
game shooting 53.3 percent from field in
his sophomore season for the Pirates. He
helped lead his team to an 18-4 record
in the Jayhawk Conference.
"Bruce is a winner on and off the
floor," head coach Bobby Champagne said.
"He is well-coached and played in one of
the best junior college leagues in the
"He comes from a winning background,"
Champagne added. "He can really shoot
the basketball, is an excellent
rebounder but he's a great team guy.
Bruce can handle it like a guard and has
the size of a small forward. "He fits
exactly what we are looking for."
Champagne continued, "We are very
excited to have him join our UNA
Adams was an Honorable Mention
All-Conference player this season with
season highs of 27 points (vs. Garden
City) 14 rebounds (vs. Coffeyville) and
5 blocks (vs. Butler). "Bruce is one of
the toughest and hardest workers I have
coached at Independence, North Alabama
is getting a great player but an even
better person," said Patrick Nee, head
coach Independence Community College.
UNA graduated five senior starters in
2012. Two played guard positions and
three played the forward position.
Adams joins Rashaun Claiborne (Darrow,
Louisiana/Delgado CC), Jere Vucica
(Split, Croatia/Santa Fe CC) and
Demetrice Jacobs (Harlem,
NY/Northwestern State LA) as the members
of the 2012 recruiting class.
Guard from New York will join Lions
for 2012-13 season
University of North Alabama men's
basketball head coach Bobby Champagne
announced that Demetrice (DJ) Jacobs
signed a grant in aid to join the Lions
for the 2012-13 season.
Jacobs is a 6-3 guard from Harlem, New
York, where he played his senior season
for Wings Academy and was the team's MVP
as well as a first team All-conference
"We are really excited to add Demetrice
to our program. He has the frame and
ability to be a big guard who can shoot
and score in our conference," Champagne
said about the latest addition to the
UNA Lions. "He really compliments our
roster and fits in our attacking style
of play with his skill set."
Jacobs was a major contributor in junior
college leading his Missouri State-West
Plains team to a number one ranking in
the country and a 31-4 record. He
averaged 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as
a sophomore for the Grizzlies while
shooting 575 from the field and 495 from
beyond the three-point line. He played
2011-12 season at Northwestern State in
Louisiana. DJ played in 16 games
averaging 6.6 points per game and 2.5
rebounds per game.
"DJ has a great feel for the game,
tremendous court awareness and has been
very well coached during his career,"
Champagne added. "He is a player who
will fit in well with the returning
players as well as the other signees.
His best days are ahead of him and we
are thrilled to have him join our UNA
Jacobs will be one of two seniors on UNA
roster in the fall. The Lions return
five of the members of the 2011-12
roster. He joins other signees Jere
Vucica and Rashuan Claiborne who signed
in the Spring. The Lions are replacing
the top three scorers as well as the top
four rebounders from last year's team.
NEW LIONS: Jere Vucica and Rashaun
The University of North Alabama men's
basketball team added another piece of
the recruiting puzzle with the signing
of Jere Vucica this week. The 6-8 small
forward is originally from Split,
Croatia will have four years of
eligibility after redshirting his
freshman season at Santa Fe Community
College in Gainesville, Fla.
"We are very fortunate to sign a player
like Jere and have him for four years,"
said UNA head coach Bobby Champagne. "He
will be a great fit for us both as a
player and a student."
Vucica comes from a basketball family.
His father, Petra played professionally
for 12 years and coached for 23. His
brother, Josip has also played
professionally for the past eight years.
"Jere has played basketball and been
around the game all of his life,"
Champagne added. "He has several years
of experience playing for national and
junior teams in Croatia and Belgium.
This past season he was able to gain
some weight and strength and become
accustomed to the style of basketball
played in America. His athleticism,
versatility and overall skill level will
certainly help our team."
Vucica plans to major in economics when
he begins classes in the fall. He is the
second signee of the 2012-13 recruiting
class and joins Rashaun Claiborne of
Delgado Community College. UNA must
replace five seniors from the 2011-12
team. The Lions lost their top three
scorers and top four rebounders from
Bobby Champagne has announced the
addition of Rashaun Claiborne to the
2012-13 recruiting class. The 6-4 small
forward was a major contributor for two
seasons at Delgado Community College in
New Orleans, La., averaging 19.7 points
per game during his sophomore season.
The Darrow, La., native totaled 428
points over 26 games last season for
coach Tommy Smith. He was also a team
captain and a first team all-conference
selection. During his freshman campaign,
he earned all-conference and All-Region
23 honors after averaging 16.5 points
and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Claiborne was also a prep standout at
St. Amant High School in Gonzales, La.
As a senior for coach Gary Duhe, he was
a first team All-District 6 selection as
a junior and was named District 6 5A
Player of the Year as a senior.
Claiborne represents the first signee of
the 2012-13 recruiting class. UNA is
looking to replace five seniors,
including its top three scorers and top
"We have a number of holes to fill and
this is a tremendous start," said
Champagne. "Rashaun can score and
rebound. Coach Kyle Morris did an
excellent job recruiting a very talented
player, who will fit in both on and off
the court at the University of North