MEN’S BASKETBALL: Lions host SUNO in exhibition to open 2016-17

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HAMMOND, La. – After nearly a month of practicing against themselves, the Southeastern Louisiana Lions will finally get a chance to see how they stack up against an opponent when they host Southern-New Orleans in a men’s basketball exhibition game Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the University Center.

“It is getting close to the time for us to measure ourselves against someone else and SUNO will certainly be a good test for us,” Southeastern head coach Jay Ladner said. “We know a lot of times when a non-Division I comes in here, whether it be an exhibition game or a regular season game, it’s a big game to them because they want to prove they have Division I-caliber players as well. I’m glad that we kind of get the opportunity to see where we are and the only way to do that is to play somebody else. It will be a great litmus test to see where we are.”

Courtside Top Cat seats for the game are $26. General admission tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children (age 3-12). Southeastern students will be admitted free with a valid university ID card. The University Center box office opens one hour prior to tipoff.

There will be no radio broadcast for the game. LionVision subscribers will be able to access a live video stream of the game at www.LionSports.net/listenlive. Live stats will also be available on the men’s basketball schedule page at www.LionSports.net.

Southeastern will be looking to build off a strong finish to the 2015-16 season in which the Lions won nine of their last 13 games to finish 12-21 overall and 9-9 in Southland Conference play. Southeastern went on to defeat New Orleans for its first conference tournament win since 2013 before losing to Houston Baptist in the second round. The Lions also won their final seven games in the University Center and currently have the second-longest home win streak in the Southland.

Seven letterwinners, including four starters, are returning, the most returnees Ladner has had in his three years as head coach of the Lions. They will be joined by a strong group of newcomers that consists of three freshmen and four transfers.

Leading the way will be senior forward Jordan Capps who earned All-Southland Conference Tournament honors at the end of last season. He is the Lions’ leading returner in scoring (10.0 ppg.), rebounding (6.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (26). Joining him in the post will be a mixture of sophomore Moses Greenwood (7.6 ppg., 4.3 rpg.), redshirt junior James Currington (5.7 ppg., 5.0 rpg.); senior Dominic Nelson (2.6 ppg., 4.0 rpg.); and freshman Brandon Gonzalez (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte High School).

Returning on the perimeter are sophomores Dimi Cook (7.5 ppg, 34 assists, 22 steals) and Marlain Veal (7.3 ppg., 98 assists, 40 steals). Junior Davon Hayes, who played for Ladner at St. Stanislaus before playing at Southern Mississippi and Northeast Mississippi Community College, will get a shot at small forward. Other newcomers include senior Jabbar Singleton, who redshirted last season after transferring from Oral Roberts; junior George Brock, a transfer from Dodge City Community College; junior Eddy Polanco, a transfer from the College of Central Florida; and true freshmen Michael Corchiani (Metairie, La./Country Day) and Chris Mejia (Hialeah Gardens, Fla./Mater Academy).

SUNO finished 7-17 overall and seventh in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference at 2-10 in 2015-16. Sophomore guard Ezekiel Brown and senior guard/forward Dominique Suggs were both honorable mention All-GCAC last season. Brown was also an honorable mention selection on the conference’s All-Defensive team.

“They are very well-coached,” Ladner said. “Coach (Dale) Valdery has been a there a long time and has done an outstanding job and I know they have a lot of Division I-caliber players.”

Ladner said the focus this week will be more on his team’s play than on SUNO.

“I want to see us improve and show some semblance of real basketball out there, meaning team play, execution on offense and great effort and execution on defense,” Ladner said. “Are we playing hard, first and foremost, and are the players in the right spots? That is what we really want to get out of this first game. Certainly by the time we play the second game, we want to be much improved form the first game.

“It’s amazing it’s already here. We’ve been saying it’s going to be here, it’s going to be here… now it’s here and we’re excited about that.”

Southeastern will host LSU-Alexandria in another exhibition game on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. before opening the regular season at home against Millsaps at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11.

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