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Eastern Arizona College

EAC News

11/1/2005

Men's Basketball 2005-06 Preview

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The 2005-06 Eastern Arizona College men’s basketball team looks to embark on a daunting task – to find a way to build on the success of the last two years and reach their ultimate goal of winning the Region Championship. Last year’s Gila Monster squad posted a 19-11 record, which was the best single season mark in ten years. When combined with the 2003-04 season, Eastern is coming off their best two-year span in over a decade. The only thing left to do now is parlay this success into the school’s eighth Region Title.

The journey will not be an easy one as the Monsters will be looking to replace nearly three-fourths of their scoring and rebounding. The bulk of both is now at Loyola University as Brandon Woods takes his 19 points and eight rebounds to the Windy City. Woods amassed nearly 1000 points in his outstanding two years at EAC which culminated in a second team All-Region selection. Woods was not the only Division I transfer as Hrvoje Pervan takes his 11 points and five rebounds to Mercer University. Other notable Monsters from last years team to make the jump to the four-year level were Russ Murrey – Adams State; Phillip Harvey – Metro State; Ronald Thomas – IU South Bend; and David Williams – Elms College.

It will be Eastern’s two top returnees that will shoulder much of the burden. Jerryck Owens-Murrey a 6’6” forward from El Cerrito, CA leads the charge. Last season Murrey saw action in all 30 games and averaged eight points and four rebounds per contest. This year he will be called upon to improve on both of those numbers as well as provide much needed leadership to all the new faces. The other Monster back who saw considerable action is 6’3” guard Chris Booker. Booker averaged seven points and nearly four rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three. Like Owens-Murrey, Booker will be looked upon to step up his game as well as his leadership if EAC is to continue its rise to the top of the ACCAC.

Eastern does return three other players who spent time in the program last season. TJ Tomlin a 6’5” forward saw limited action as a freshman but should provide some depth inside. Two others were red shirts last season, Joe Anaya is a 5’9” guard from Silver City, NM and Dusko Stojnic a 6’10” forward from Bosnia who will be counted on heavily to replace some of the points and rebounds lost with the departure of Woods. One other sophomore on this year’s squad will be 5’11” guard Ervin Youmans. Youmans is originally from basketball powerhouse Hobbs, NM where he was a part of a State Championship team while setting state scoring records. As a freshman he saw limited action on a high powered UTEP team that finished the season 27-5. Youmans should provide both scoring and leadership in the backcourt for the Monsters this season.

Though Eastern has a solid core to build around, the success of the season will be largely based on the progress of the 12 newcomers. EAC will boast a great deal of depth and talent this year both inside and out – the question will be how quickly can the freshman adjust to the level and learn the system.

Inside, Eastern has added some size to go with Owens-Murrey and Stojnic. Jeff Wilson is a 6’8”, 215-pound forward from Chicago’s Hales Franciscan High School. Wilson is one of several Monsters to have been a part of a state championship team during his high school career – winning one as a senior. Wilson is a terrific rebounder and good scorer inside and will be counted on for major minutes this season. EAC can also look to 6’6”, 220-pound forward Marcus Palmer for help. Palmer led Price High School to a state title last year and is a big time scorer. He provides the Monsters with a ton of versatility, as he can play four positions.

At the guard position Eastern will have plenty of options. At point they can look to Jordan Jamestown a 5’9” guard from Anchorage, Alaska – another member of the team to have a state championship to his name. Terry Dunlap from Chicago and Phillip Briggs from Las Vegas will also challenge for minutes. On the wing the Monsters can choose from several more candidates including Skylar Whitfield from Casa Grande and Alan Salazar from Pueblo, CO – both were big scorers in high school. Eastern can also choose from their three international guards. Srdan Biljarski, a 6’6" wing who hails from Split, Croatia or Gabor Boros and Tamas Papp who both come to EAC from Hungary. All have major experience on the international level, all three have won national championships, and all will be looked upon to contribute heavily this season.

The task will not be easy. The standards continue to rise and the goal is high, but this year’s Gila Monster team has the talent and depth to accomplish all they set out for. The trick is to blend the newcomers with the returnees and to get everyone to buy into the program – if that happens, look for the 2005-06 season to be one to remember at Eastern Arizona College.