Click HERE for the orginal article - written by Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Travis Lazarczyk
WATERVILLE — When you graduate four key seniors, including the second-leading scorer in team history, you start the season as an underdog. Thomas College men's basketball coach Geoff Hensley knows this.
"We lost a great senior class. With a great group of seniors like that, it's tough to replace them," Hensley said. "But I'm being optimistic about this team."
Hensley's team passed its first test. Trailing by 10 points at the half to Nichols, the Terriers rallied to take an 80-75 win.
The Thomas women's basketball team, meanwhile, may have found the scorer it has needed for a few years in freshman Kari Stubbs. While one game in is certainly no sample size, the freshman from Auburn scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Terriers' season-opening 79-49 win over the University of Maine-Presque Isle.
"We have a brand new team. We have four from last year on the team and we're building. We're building this program,and we're doing it with the right people," Thomas women's coach Emily Cummins said.
Thomas went 3-22 in each of Cummins first two seasons as head coach. Now, Cummins is hoping to see her recruiting efforts begin to bear fruit, with the addition of players like Stubbs and junior center Amira Jones, a transfer from Southern Maine Community College, where she averaged a double-double last season. Jones had 11 points and 13 rebounds in the victory Tuesday.
Stubbs scored the Terriers first five points and went 8-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Stubbs was initially attracted to Thomas because her father, Mark Stubbs, played basketball for the Terriers. When she heard Cummins' sales pitch, Stubbs was sold.
"Coach Cummins approached me and her idea of where she wants this program to go, it just hooked me," Stubbs said. "Just the chance to play college basketball is incredible and I'm thankful for it every day."
Point guard Jordan Turner, also a transfer from SMCC, is another key newcomer.
"The kid is just tough. She's going to get to the rim. She's going to handle the ball. She's going to be a tough defender. Today, she had eight assists and two turnovers, and that's something we haven't had before," Cummins said of Turner.
The biggest graduation loss for the Thomas men was Levi Barnes. The all-North Atlantic Conference guard left the Terriers with a 20 points per game hole. One of the players expected to help fill that void is senior guard Tyheem Simon, who averaged 15.4 points per game last season and who Hensley calls "explosive". Simon scored 14 points with seven boards on Tuesday. Another potential offensive threat is junior Carlos Gonzalez. The 6-foot-7 center averaged close to a double-double last season, 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Against Nichols, Gonzalez dominated the paint, scoring 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
"We're expecting big things from him," Hensley said of Gonzalez.
Newcomer Jordan DeRosby, a Waterville native, could be a factor in Thomas' backcourt. DeRosby comes to Thomas after spending the last three seasons at Southern Maine Community College. The transfer brings plenty of college basketball experience, Hensley said. DeRosby scored 13 points in his Thomas debut Tuesday.
"He can come in a contribute immediately," Hensley said.
Senior point guard Ian King had seven assists in the win, and Hensley called King the best passer he's seen at the Division III level. Hensley said he wants the Terriers to speed things up, to get out and run the court more.
"Compared to last year's team, this team is more athletic. We'll try and use that as one of our strengths," Hensley said.
Against Nichols, that athleticism didn't translate into quick baskets, at least not at first. The Terriers scored just two fast break points in the first half, falling behind by 10 at the break. In the second half, Thomas scored 12 fastbreak points, and that ability to push the pace was a key to the comeback.
"We seemed to connect really well, especially in the later parts of the game," DeRosby said. "We know our strengths, and our strength is to run. To run, we've got to play defense and get stops."