HARTSVILLE, S.C. - The Coker College men's basketball team may be debuting in the South Atlantic Conference, but the attitudes and expectations don't change for head coach Dan Schmotzer and his players.
"We expect the same things as in the old conference," said Schmotzer, who is entering his 26th year coaching at Coker. "We expect to win. I project it; the kids have to see it, smell it and taste it."
The Cobras finished last season 13-14 overall and 10-10 in conference action, with a loss to Barton in the quarterfinals of the Conference Carolinas tournament to end the season. The Cobras were ranked 10th in the South Atlantic Conference preseason poll.
This year's team does not lack experience as the roster includes seven seniors, four of whom were starters last year.
"The strength of this team is our seniors," Schmotzer said. "We are going to go as far as the leadership of our seniors takes us."
"In terms of the eyeball test, we have good talent coming back, led by Julian Nelson, who was an all-conference performer last year," Schmotzer said. "The commitment put in by Teon Beckett in the offseason is very visible, and having a three-year starter in Bryce Arnott at the point guard position also really makes a difference."
The Cobras also have some newcomers who could make an immediate impact on this year's team. Most notably, freshman Donte Samuels and Southern University A&M transfer Trey Marshall, a sophomore combo guard, are expected to contribute in 2013-14.
"Post play is probably the biggest concern for this year's team, which is why the emergence of freshman Donte is very important." said Schmotzer. "Trey Marshall will get valuable minutes as well."
It will be a tough task for the Cobras as SAC teams Lincoln Memorial (No. 13) and Carson Newman (No. 21) are both ranked inside the top 25 in national preseason polls.
Coker tips off its season Nov. 15 against Belmont Abbey in the UNC Pembroke tournament. The team opens up conference play at Newberry on Nov. 20. The home opener is on Saturday Nov. 23 against SAC foe Carson Newman.
Story written by athletic media relations intern Aaron Beebe '15.