Eagles open basketball practice

CHADRON – The Chadron State College men's basketball team, with 10 lettermen and six transfers, opens its practice this week for eighth-year head coach Brent Bargen.

"I think we'll have tremendous depth and be very good defensively, particularly on the perimeter," the coach said. "We also have some guys who can create off the dribble."

The Eagles will play their first game on Nov. 8 at Dickinson State in North Dakota. Their first home game with be against South Dakota School of Mines on Nov. 19.

CSC struggled to a 3-23 record last season but the combination of proven veterans and incoming players is giving Bargen optimism for the future. The Eagles were picked to finish 14th in the RMAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

Metro State, which finished as the national runner-up a season ago, is the runaway No. 1 pick in the league.

Two of the veterans on the CSC squad, Zac Bargen and Kyle Vinich, are receivers on the Eagles' football team and won't be available for a few of the early basketball games.

However, once the football season is over both are expected to have immediate impacts. Bargen, a 6-5 senior and son of head coach Brent Bargen, led the RMAC in scoring at 18.2 points a game last season. He also averaged 5.8 rebounds and hit 84.4 percent of his 179 free throws, one of the highest number of free throw attempts in CSC history.

The other returnees include seniors David Downey of Scottsbluff, Grant Stone and Chris Taylor and junior Kendrick Holliman, all of whom averaged between 6.7 and 8.0 points last season, as did Vinich.

The roster also includes two sophomores. Justyn Anderson was last year's starting point guard who averaged 6.0 points and had more assists than turnovers. Brandon Pippenger, who is 6-8, showed signs late last season of developing into a solid post player and has added about 30 pounds to his frame in the past year, Bargen said.

Not to be overlooked are 6-10 senior Michael Safer and 6-8 junior Mouhamed Diop. Neither saw much action last year when they were post players. Both are slender and Bargen believes that by moving them farther from the basket they will be more effective. He said Safer may even shoot some threes.

Bargen has also moved the 6-5 Stone, one of the team's better shooters, from a wing to forward.

Help around the basket is expected from 6-7 transfer Nate Boykins, who according to Bargen "is very active and makes things happen."

The other newcomers include point guards Josiah Lee and Devin Crear, combo guard Chris Smith and off-guards Evan Brooks and Mike Hill. Bargen said all five are solid players. He believes that both Brooks and Hill will provide some needed scoring punch from the outside.

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