Youthful Men's Basketball Team Finishes Higher Than Expected
Samford men's basketball coach Jimmy Tillette divides the 2002
season into three seasons: uncertainty, achievement, then disappointment.
With 10 freshmen and sophomores among 13 team members, the Bulldogs
were picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They
sprang to a 7-3 start and went on the finish in a tie for fourth
But they lost in the first round of the conference tournament and
"We've ratcheted up our expectations so that we think we can
go to the [NCAA] tournament every year," Tillette said. "So,
our finish was a disappointment. I don't think you can point to
any one reason. We were a very young team. We had injuries and illness
that took away some of our early momentum. Our league was its strongest
Samford led the league in two statistical categories, scoring defense
(allowing 60.3 points a game) and field-goal percentage (hitting
47.8 percent of its shots).
Senior guard Chris Weaver led the team in scoring (13.7) and was
an all-conference second team selection. Freshman forward Jon Mills
was named conference Newcomer of the Year.
As always, Tillette looks to next year. The team will be more experienced,
but an "unsettled" situation in terms of who will start
should provide a motivational advantage, he said. Eleven players
There's another factor Samford fans may remember. The last time
Tillette had a team this young, it followed up with two consecutive
conference tournament championships.