Men's Basketball Embarks on First Road Trip to Face Denver

Men's Basketball Embarks on First Road Trip to Face Denver





Coming off a season-opening 60-49 win over Texas Lutheran, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team will take to the road for a matchup with the University of Denver on Wednesday night. It will be the first of a two-game road swing for the Islanders, who will face Utah State on Saturday.

• The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of 20 years, three months and 20 days as of tonight.

• The Islanders opened their season with a 60-49 win over Texas Lutheran on Saturday night, their fourth season in five opened with a win.

• A&M - Corpus Christi used an 11-0 run in the second half to turn the tide in the contest with the Bulldogs.

• The team's leader, sophomore Johnathan Jordan, had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists against TLU.

Nate Maxey started his season with four blocks and eight rebounds against Texas Lutheran, after having 48 blocks in his freshman season last year.

• The Islanders do not have a group of five players who will see action this year that had previously played together in a competitive contest.

• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is ineligible for the postseason because of poor results in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. No Islander who played under Wilson had anything to to with the subpar score.

This will be the fourth matchup all-time between the Islanders and Pioneers, and the second straight season that the teams have squared off. Last year, Denver visited the Coastal Bend and emerged with a 65-58 victory over A&M - Corpus Christi at the American Bank Center.

Brian Stafford was the star of the show for DU, scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Chris Udofia added 12 points and six blocks in the win for the Pioneers. Myron Dempsey led the Islanders with 17 points, while Johnathan Jordan added 12 points and three steals. Nate Maxey had four blocks as well.

The Islanders and DU also played twice during the 2001-02 season, with each team winning on its home court.

He's only a sophomore, but Houston native Johnathan Jordan has been thrust into the role of leader on the young Islanders squad. Jordan led the Southland in assists per game in 2011-12 and despite his newbie status, was also among the leaders in minutes per game. With 26 starts, he entered the year with nearly as many Division I starts as the rest of his teammates combined (34).

Jordan struggled from the field against UIW, going 3-for-15 from the floor, though he did record five steals. He bounced back with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists against Texas Lutheran, though he struggled to get into a rhythm early in the game and was not in the starting lineup.

The 5-foot-10 Jordan is also one of the most athletic Islanders, having twice won the slam-dunk contest at Islanders Invasion, thanks much to his 48-inch running vertical leap. His 138 assists last season were a new school record.

As the youngest member of last year's freshman class, Hameed Ali showed flashes of being a strong player for the Islanders, hitting game winning shots against Utah State and Sam Houston State in addition to having the ball in his hands with the chance at a win against South Alabama.

But Ali, who turned 19 in August, has shown significant growth in his maturity, particularly as a vocal leader for the Islanders. Formerly one of the most shy members of the team, Ali has become a constant voice in practice – whether he is on the court or on the sidelines.

The native of Hayward, Calif., averaged 4.3 points per game in his 30 contests a year ago. He made 13 starts and shot 32 percent from the field. He scored 10 points in the exhibition against UIW and nine in the opener with Texas Lutheran.

Sophomore Nate Maxey also jumps off the page when looking at statistics and measurables. The San Diego native posted the fourth-highest block total (48) in school history in his freshman season, and heading into this season was measured as having a 7-foot-10 wing span.

Maxey, who averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a year ago, has added about 15 pounds to his 6-foot-11 frame and has also matured greatly off the court heading into his sophomore season.

The opener against TLU was a microcosm of his career at A&M - Corpus Christi. In the first half, he had two blocks but struggled on both ends. In the second, though, he was a force, with two more blocks, five rebounds and six points – all finishing off alley-oops with a dunk.

The Islanders' starting lineup for the season opener against TLU was a bit of a surprise for most people. In addition to who was not in the lineup – specifically Johnathan Jordan, Nate Maxey and Joy Williamson – the players that were in the lineup was also a surprise.

Along with exhibition game starters Hameed Ali and Will Nelson, the Islanders trotted out two freshmen and a walk-on. Kennon Dvorak has been in the position before, having started seven games a year ago despite his true walk-on status. But freshmen Brandon Pye and Dale Francis found themselves in the lineup for their first collegiate contest – a fact that was even more surprising because Francis didn't even play in the exhibition.

Coach Wilson has put an emphasis on starting the players who have the best week of practice, and thus the atypical starting set.

The Islanders got out to another slow start in the season opener with Texas Lutheran, shooting just 25.8 percent in the opening half. Only Joy Williamson (3-for-5) hit more shots than he missed in the half.

But A&M - Corpus Christi came out strong for the final five minutes of the first half and continuing into the second half, posting a 37-14 run to turn a 10-point deficit into a 13-point lead. They went 13-for-27 in that stretch and added six offensive rebounds, converting each into points.