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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014

Trinity working hard on hoops turnaround


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TRINITY - Excitement is in the air for the Trinity College of Florida men's basketball team.

Coming off a disappointing 4-22 year from the 2012-2013 season, the Tigers are looking for a fresh start. Instilling the new attitude and expectations moving forward is professional speed trainer Rob Oppedisano, who served as a consultant last season.

The Tigers have never won more than 10 games in a single season. The past two seasons have been equally tough for Trinity, going a combined 9-44. With the hiring of Oppedisano, the school believes a turnaround is not too far away.

"We want to turn the program into the top small school in the state of Florida," Oppedisano said. "We're looking for good guys on and off the court. We have no problem finding good athletes, but we're looking for good character as well. We're looking for guys we can build a solid program with and reload."

A couple bright spots from last season for the Tigers was the play of now returning seniors Jirous Knight and Kevin Brown, both of whom were a couple of Trinity College's top scorers. Knight, a 5-foot-11 point guard, averaged 13.9 points a game during the 2012-2013 season and shot an impressive 41.8 percent from 3-point range. Brown, who is the high flyer on the team, brings flashiness and showtime to the floor and threw down some dunks and averaged 12.6 points and 8.9 rebounds.

Oppedisano and associate head coach Bobby Bowman have also worked tirelessly on recruiting the needed players to compete in the near future and some of the committed recruits are athletes that might have never even considered Trinity College in the past. The school's prized commitment is DeLand High's Monolito Hamilton Jr., who averaged 15.4 points and 4.4 assists a game for the Bulldogs. Hamilton also was a Class 8A second-team all-state selection from the 2012-2013 season. The Tigers have also seeked out local talent like Brooksville Nature Coast's Wyatt Hessler and Elfers Christian's Beau Kennedy, who averaged 29.4 points and 12.7 rebounds. An interesting prospect to watch as well will be 6-7 forward Samuel Sarfo, who played on Ghana's junior national team a couple of years ago.

"I feel like coach Rob (Oppedisano) has done a really great job so far by bringing in some under the radar guys to the team," Kennedy said. "I think we can compete for a national championship in year one. I have no doubt in my mind that we'll be an above .500 record-wise team."

Trinity College is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and plays on a Division II level. The Tigers have put together a tough 2013-2014 schdule, which includes Division I Wofford, Flagler College, Warner University and Pasco-Hernando Community College twice. Oppedisano said the basketball program will field two teams, with each squad playing different levels to help the development of the players go smoother. The transition from doormat to powerhouse will take time, but that's time that Bowman and Oppedisano are more then willing to put in on the hardwood.

"We believe we can compete with anybody," Oppedisano added. "There is no 'I' on this team. We fully believe in doing everything together as a team. Me and associate head coach Bobby Bowman are working together in taking this program in the right direction."

Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.

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