BRIDGEWATER, Va. – The Bridgewater College men's basketball team tips off its 2019-20 season Tuesday night in an exhibition game at the University of Delaware. Eagles' first-year head coach Steve Enright is looking forward to seeing his team in action.
The contest is the first of two exhibition games against Division I competition. The Eagles travel to Radford University on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
"These games will be a good gauge for where we are as a team," Enright said. "These will be the two best teams we will play this year. For the coaches, Tuesday's game at Delaware will give us some good film. For the players, it's a chance to show what they can do against quality competition."
Enright was named the Eagles head coach less than three weeks before the start of practice. The transition was made somewhat smoother due to the fact Enright had recruited the sophomores and seniors when he was an assistant coach for the Eagles.
"I had a leg-up when it came to player relationships because I had coached and/or recruited the upperclass guys," said Enright. "I recruited Davrion (Grier), TJ (Turner) and Chandler (Murray) and coached them for two years. I coached Monte (Simpkins) for one year after he transferred in and I recruited sophomores Kellen (Hodge) and Liam (Caswell). Knowing those guys made the transition pretty seamless."
The Eagles will look for the four seniors to carry much of load, especially early in the season.
Davrion Grier is the leading returning scorer and rebounder for the Eagles, averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds as a junior. "Davrion will have a big role for us and he's been playing well in the preseason. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does this season."
Chandler Murray and TJ Turner will provide scoring punch from the perimeter. "Chandler can really score and shoot the basketball and TJ is a talented player at the offensive end," added Enright. Murray averaged 9.5 points per game and shot 36 percent from 3-point range. Turner averaged 5.5 points per game as one of the first guards off the bench.
Monte Simpkins provides an experienced player and versatile defender at the forward spot. "Monte is one of the hardest workers on the team," said the Eagles' coach. "He's improved his shooting and he's a strong defender who can guard the 2 through 5." Simpkins played in 25 games and averaged 2.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
"Liam is going to be a big part of what we do offensively. He can shoot the basketball," said Enright. "Kellen has gotten in better shape and I think he's ready to contribute. He's a glue-type guy at forward who will do a lot of the dirty work inside."
Among the newcomers, transfer Will Bowser could get the early nod to run the point. "Will has the chance to be a really good ODAC guard. He has good size for the position and can finish around the rim," added Enright.
Jalil Langston, a freshman swing player, should also get early minutes. "Right now, Jalil's defense is ahead of his offensive game," said Enright. "He's very athletic and solid defensively."
Another sophomore, guard Cameron Williams, should provide help later in the season. "Right now, Cam's doing his thing for the football team. He should help when he joins us later on."
The remaining four freshmen could see their minutes increase at they become more accustomed to the college game.
Fletcher Jackson and Ryan Norman will provide depth in the frontcourt while Matt Bowden is a good perimeter shooter. Bryson Canty is a big guard who has been sidelined during the preseason. He could work his way into the backcourt mix when ready to play.
The Eagles were picked last in the 13-team ODAC, a prediction that serves as motivation for the team.
"Our guys are excited for the opportunity to go out and try to prove people wrong," said Enright. "We have some competitors in the locker room who aren't just going to sit there and accept what other people are saying about them. They're looking forward to showing people they can compete in a very good conference."
Following the two exhibition games, the Eagles will open the season on Nov. 16 at the Pablo Coto Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Marymount University. Bridgewater plays Montclair St. in the opener and will play either Wilkes or Marymount on the second day of the tournament.
The Eagles play their home opener on Nov. 20 when they host the University of Mary Washington.