Wins over schools from the Southeastern, Colonial, Southern and Sun Belt Conference, plus a sixth-straight appearance in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament were top highlights during the 2010-11 Campbell University men's basketball season.
After a promising start, the Camels finished 12-19 overall, 6-14 in the A-Sun, in a season that was derailed by injuries to key personnel. Campbell players missed a total of 41 games due to injury and 38 of those contests were missed by individuals who were starters in the team's first six games. By contrast, the 2009-10 A-Sun regular season championship team had a total of one missed game due to injury by its entire roster.
Nevertheless, Campbell produced double-digit wins for the sixth-straight season - a feat that has not been accomplished by the program since 1984 - as it looks forward to moving back to the Big South Conference in 2011-12.
CU opened the year by playing the tightest game against a nationally-ranked opponent in the program's NCAA Division I history (since 1977-78) before dropping a 70-60 setback Nov. 12 at Virginia Tech. Prior that 10-point decision, the closest Campbell had come to upsetting a nationally-ranked foe was a 25-point loss at 8th-ranked NC State in Dec. 1978 and a 26-point defeat against No.-1 Duke in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
A trip to the Global Sports Hoops Showcase at the brand-new Auburn Arena produced Campbell's first triumph over a Southeastern Conference member since a 73-72 overtime win Jan. 12, 1994 at South Carolina.
The Camels opened with a 97-90 win over Sun Belt member Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19, connecting on 64 percent of their shots from the floor. The 97-point outburst marked CU's highest-scoring game since a 104-82 win over Stetson (2/8/07). The decision also stood as the program's 4th-highest scoring game away from home (and highest on a neutral floor) during its Division I history (since 1977-78).
One night later, Campbell held host Auburn scoreless for a 6:20 stretch and closed the Nov. 20 game on a 14-5 run to claim a 61-54 victory over the Tigers. CU converted 24 Auburn miscues into 25 points off turnovers and improved to 2-12 all-time vs. current membership of the SEC.
Junior guard Lorne Merthie was named MVP of the Global Sports Hoops
Showcase and joined on the all-tournament team by junior forward
Eric Griffin. Following his MVP performance at the Global Sports
Hoops Showcase, Merthie was named A-Sun Player of the Week (Nov.
23), marking the first time since December 2006 that a Camel not
named Jonathan Rodriguez won A-Sun weekly honors.
Griffin and freshman forward Marvelle Harris were named A-Sun newcomer of the week during the season as well.
Campbell set a school Division I era (since '77-78) record for most wins before Christmas with seven. The 2009-10 squad registered 6 victories before Christmas and 7 before New Year's Day. In the process, CU reeled off a five-game winning streak that included triumphs over Southern Conference member Western Carolina (73-50) and UNC Wilmington (57-56) of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Against Western Carolina, CU held the visiting Catamounts scoreless for the final 8:29 while closing on a 17-0 run.
Senior guard Junard Hartley hit the second game-winning buzzer
beater of his career on Dec. 22 when he sank a 3-pointer from the
left corner with 1.4 seconds to play to lift the Camels to a 57-56
victory over UNC Wilmington at Gore Arena. He also connected from
the same spot as a sophomore in a league win at Lipscomb.
Seven Gore Arena records fell on Jan. 10 during Campbell's 80-74 overtime win against Mercer. New building records were established for most combined fouls (57) and free throw attempts (70) as well as most CU fouls (29) and opponent free throws made (26). In addition, records for combined free throws made (48) and most blocked shots (10) in a game were established.
The game against Mercer also marked the first men's basketball overtime contest in CU's new facility. The first 36 CU men's games played in Gore Arena were all decided in regulation time.
CU's 30-point win over Stetson (1/22) marked Campbell's largest win margin over an A-Sun foe at Gore Arena. CU defeated the Hatters by 26 points (81-55) on Jan. 16, 2010.
Griffin set a Gore Arena record for highest 3-point field goal percentage (.857) in a game when he hit 6-of-7 threes vs. Lipscomb on Feb. 10. The junior forward finished with a career-high 28 points.
The Camels now own a 29-14 record in three seasons at the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center/Gilbert Craig Gore Arena. Six of Campbell's seven home losses this year were decided by a total of 24 points, including three, two-point setbacks.
Despite losing Merthie, a pre-season all-conference selection, to injury for the last eight games of the year, the Camels qualified for the 8-team Atlantic Sun tournament for the sixth-straight season. Only Campbell, Belmont, East Tennessee State, Lipscomb and Mercer have participated in each of the last six A-Sun events.
Campbell concluded its 17-season tenure in the Atlantic Sun with a hard-fought 54-53 loss to two-time defending league tournament champ ETSU in the quarterfinal round. CU rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half against a school that later advanced to the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com post-season tournament.
The Camels led the Atlantic Sun Conference and ranked 27th nationally in blocked shots per game (5.0). With a school-record 155 blocks over 31 games, Campbell shattered the previous school team record for blocks in a year (117) set in 1997-98.
Griffin, who finished second in the league and 40th in the nation
in blocks per game (2.1), also broke the school record for
rejections in a season with 61. Harris finished fifth among A-Sun
blocks leaders (1.52 per game).
Hartley's name is etched throughout the Camel record books. He finished his career ranked second in career starts (115) and assists (600), 3rd in games played (121) and steals (212) in the program's Division I era. Hartley also stands second on the A-Sun career assists charts and 11th all-time in steals. As a senior, Hartley scored at a career-high 10.1 points per game clip (23rd in the A-Sun) and ranked second in the league in assists (5.16), eighth in steals (1.55) and 15th in free throw percentage. He was nominated for the Bob Cousy Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point guard.
Senior forward Preston Dodson produced the finest season of his career in 2010-11. He finished in fourth place on CU's all-time games played charts with 117 appearance. In addition, he averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game - both career highs - while ranking fifth among A-Sun leaders in field goal percentage (.518).
Griffin ranked among the best all-around players in the Atlantic Sun. He finished ninth in scoring (13.2), fifth in rebounding (6.9), eighth in field goal percentage (.504), fifth in steals (1.69), second in blocks (2.1), sixth in defensive rebounds (4.72) and 12th in offensive rebounds (2.17).Merthie ranked among A-Sun leaders in scoring (11.2), three-point field goals made (55) and three-point accuracy (.420) before suffering a knee injury in mid-January that curtailed his effectiveness and ultimately caused him to miss the last four weeks of the season.