Garrett tips off season today at Potomac State

The Garrett College Lakers tip off the season Saturday, against Lackawanna (Pa.), in the 5 p.m. game of the Coldwell Banker Invitational at Potomac State. Members of the team, seated left to right: Joe Tressler, Dave Taylor, Vladimir Nikolov, Shawn Greenfield, C.J. Glen and Reco Siler. Second row: assistant coach Harv Speicher, J.T. Lewis, Mark Smith, Terrance Taylor, Glen Izevbigie, Myron McGowan, Gabriel Leggett and head coach Dennis Gibson. Not pictured is assistant coach Jason Brenneman.

MCHENRY — After experiencing the toughest season of his career, Garrett College men’s basketball coach Dennis Gibson is looking forward to the challenge of a new campaign.

“This is the first year since my first that I haven’t had the help of Dave Martin as my top assistant,” said Gibson of his friend, who died after a long battle with cancer in June. “Dave was a key part of our program and we carry on with a heavy heart, but knowing that Dave would want us to work hard and do our best.”

Last year, the Lakers finished with an 18-12 record and had disappointing showings in the Maryland JUCO and Region XX tournaments.

“I think Dave’s illness affected all of us. He was heavily involved in the recruiting of the entire team, and I know that I found myself thinking of Dave and what he was going through a lot, so I know the players were in the same boat. We recruit players who are good people and we try to have a family atmosphere around our program. They really felt for Dave and his family.”

As for the 2007-08 edition, Gibson is looking to test his team early.

This year will be no exception as the young Lakers open the season today, at 5 p.m., in the Coldwell Banker Invitational at Potomac State College. Their first-round opponent will be JUCO Division II power Lackawanna Junior College from Scranton, Pa.

“Lackawanna is one of the top programs in the East, comparable to a Cecil. They won 24 games last year, are ranked 12th in Division II, and have a great reputation. All of our guys are excited to show they can play at a high level, especially our sophomores. The sophomores are out to prove last season was an aberration.”

Freshmen will have to make an impact on this year’s squad. The Lakers do return solid players in 6-foot-9 Glen Izevbigie, 6-3 Dale Taylor, 6-4 Joe Tressler and 6-5 Gabe Leggett, who is returning from injury. Two redshirt freshmen guards, Reco Siler and Vladimir Nikolov, gained experience while practicing with the team last year.

Newcomers include point guards C.J. Glen and Shawn Greenfield. Small forwards include some good size and quickness in Myron McGowan, a former teammate of Dale Taylor at Heritage (Va.) High School; local standout J.T. Lewis from Morgantown (W.Va.) High, and Mark Smith, who played for former Laker Vashawne Gross at Huntingtown High.

Power forward and center will be bolstered by the addition of 6-4 Terrance Taylor, who is back in Maryland after playing two years of high school basketball at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Texas.

“I do not mind starting the year with several guys who no one has really heard of for the most part, but I hope we do not finish that way. This group has worked exceptionally hard in the classroom and on the practice court, but that does not always equate to wins. They have to establish their reputations — and earn their wins — on the court.”

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