BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell University opens its men's basketball exhibition schedule Thursday with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off at Gore Arena against Wingate.
No admission will be charged for Campbell's pre-season games on Thursday or next Monday (Nov. 7) when Fayetteville State visits Buies Creek. The public is invited to attend.
Coach Robbie Laing is intent on restoring a high-pressure defense and full-court offensive attack to the program, which re-joined the Big South Conference in July after a 17-year stint in the Atlantic Sun.
The Camels return three starters from last year's club that saw starters lose a total of 38 games to injury and finished 12-19 overall.
Back from the 2010 A-Sun regular season championship club are senior guards Lorne Merthie (11.2 points, .420 three-point percentage in '10-11) and Amir Celestin (7.2 points, 2.5 assists). A pre-season all-league choice a year ago, Merthie missed the final eight games of the season with a knee injury.
Senior forward Eric Griffin also returns after leading the team in scoring (13.2), rebounding (6.9) and blocks, while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor. Also back is sophomore forward Marvelle Harris, who finished fifth in the A-Sun in blocks (1.52), three places behind Griffin.
Laing expects immediate contributions from red-shirt freshman guard Andrew Ryan, who missed all but six games due to a foot injury last season.
Freshman Trey Freeman, the 2011 Beach District player of the year at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, is expected to start at point guard, while junior transfer Darren White is slotted to start at forward. A 6-foot-4 wing, White was a member of the Colonial Athletic Association all-rookie team in 2010 before spending last year at Midland (Texas) Junior College.
"We're adapting to a new system and it's a learning process for all of us," said Laing, who is entering this ninth year in charge of the Camels. "We've had a good two weeks of preparation. This is the kind of game we need right now – playing somebody different and somebody's that's dog-gone good."
Wingate, a member of the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference, returns all five starters and its top six scorers from last year's team that finished 19-10 overall and was runner-up in the SAC with a 12-6 record.
Six-foot-seven junior forward Odell Turner led the Bulldogs in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (8.4), while shooting 52 percent from the floor a year ago. Also returning are guard Jaime Vaughn (13.9 points per game), forward Quan Alexander (9.7), guard Chase Smith (7.4) and point guard Ethan Kincaid (5.7 points, 3.9 assists).
Campbell opens its 2011-12 regular season schedule with three-straight home games against Houston Baptist (Nov. 11), East Carolina (Nov. 14) and North Carolina A&T (Nov. 17).
Season and single-game ticket information is available by calling (910) 893-1459 or visiting the Campbell athletics website at GoCamels.com.