Chants hit hardwood with high hopes for hoops glory

The 2011-12 Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team returned to the hardwood Friday for its first official practice of the season.

The defending Big South regular season champions are coming off a 28-6 overall record and a 16-2 Big South record, which included a birth to the NIT tournament.

Head Coach Cliff Ellis is entering his fifth year as the Chanticleers head coach holding an 80-48 record during his tenure. The Chants look to take that extra step and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993.

“I love the emotion and the excitement, I feel the same way I’ve felt for the last 40 years,” said head coach Cliff Ellis about the first day of practice. “I love these guys and I feel we have a great leader in Sam McLaurin, even though he is a junior, I like the way he manages our team.”

Returning starters include McLaurin, who currently ranks second on the Coastal Carolina career blocked shots list, 23 behind Joseph Harris who recorded 142 while playing for the Chants. In addition to McLaurin, junior guard Anthony Raffa returns as the top scorer for Coastal after averaging 11.7 points per game. Junior guard Kierre Greenwood is also back after suffering a season ending injury that sidelined him for six of the last five games of the season. Prior to the injury, Greenwood was averaging 4.0 assists per game.

Also returning are Willie Kirkland, Dexter Moore, Brandon Crawford, Jon Pack and Jordan Griffin.

Newcomers include senior Chris Gradnigo, a transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette, junior Bisi Addey, junior Charles Ashford along with freshmen Tyler Poole and Warren Gillis.

Coastal opens the 2011-12 campaign at home against Covenant on November 11 at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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