October 21, 2011

2011-2012 UDC Men's Basketball Season Preview

UDC Men's Basketball Looks to a Mix of Returning Veterans and Newcomers to Take the Firebirds to the Next Level in 2011-2012 Season

UDC Head Coach Jeff Ruland is looking forward to taking the UDC Men's Basketball Program to the next level in 2011-2012 in the inaugural season in the East Coast Conference (ECC).  The Firebirds will look to play a fast paced style of basketball featuring a high scoring offense with an emphasis on tough defense and the transition game. 

The Firebirds return six key players, including two of the top returning scorers in the Nation.  The tandem of Brandon Herbert (Baltimore, MD – McDonogh HS) and Nigel Munson (Washington, DC – Dematha HS) should form one of the most potent backcourts in the country.  Brandon Herbert  (19.8 ppg) is the 9th leading returning scorer in the country, and Nigel Munson (18.4 ppg) is the 22nd leading returning scorer in the country, giving the Firebirds two of the top 25 returning scorers in the Nation.  Herbert was the leading scorer for UDC last season, and is an exceptional shooter and scorer.  He will be looked upon to continue his shooting touch in 2011-2012.  A local Washington, DC product out of Dematha HS, Munson is widely considered the top point guard in the country, and his leadership and ability to distribute the ball (6.7 apg) will be paramount for the Firebirds success this season. 

Another key returner for the Firebirds is 6'7 junior forward Dyrek Jones (Brooklyn, NY - Bedford Academy HS).  Dyrek is one of the Firebirds' best defenders with very good shot blocking ability (2.6 bpg).  Dyrek's interior play will be critical for the Firebirds' success in 2011-2012.

Look also for three newcomers to infuse some excitement and production into the Firebirds lineup.  Senior guard Dishawn Bradshaw (Baltimore, MD - St. Frances Academy) and senior center Diyaaldin Kelley (Philadelphia, PA - Mariana Bracetti HS) come to UDC by way of University of Maryland Eastern Shore.  Bradshaw is a very good shooter who can also slash to the basket.  He should be a nice compliment to Munson and Herbert in the backcourt.  A three guard set should allow the Firebirds to play an up-tempo style.  Kelley is a legitimate big man underneath with excellent shot blocking and rebounding ability.  He is long and athletic and has good touch around the basket.  Kelley's inside presence, in tandem with Dyrek Jones, should create problems for opposing teams.  Another newcomer is freshman forward Florent Potens (France - Cheshire Academy).  Potens has an athletic 6'6 frame, and the coaches hope he will develop into a scoring threat and flourish in the up-tempo system. 

Junior guard Keith Brooks (Harlem, NY - Monsignor McClancy HS) is another guard who will compete for minutes right away.  He is a good shooter and a smart player who can handle the ball when needed.   Sophomore forward Ziad Ashmawy (Cairo, Egypt - American City College) is a physical player who gets up and down the court well.  He has good strength, rebounds well, and will be expected to play an important role for UDC.  Sophomore guard Philip Izevbehai (Long Island, NY - Saint Thomas More Prep HS) will be counted on for some important minutes for the Firebirds.  He is an athletic guard, is in great shape, and is one of the top on-ball defenders on the team.  Senior guard David Saunders (Upper Marlboro, MD - Paul VI Catholic High School) is another local Washington, DC product.  He is a true point guard who will be looked upon to come off the bench and provide quality depth at the guard position.  He has the ability to hit open shots, runs the offense well, and the coaches trust his judgment within the team concepts.   Junior forward Brandon Ennis (Ontario, Canada - St. Edmund Campion/Brampton) is a hard worker who will look to compete for minutes as well. 

The Firebirds are hoping to run a fast paced, high scoring offense with an emphasis on the transition game.  Head Coach Jeff Ruland on the 2011-2012 campaign, "We like what we have returning this year, and we think we have made some strides with regards to new players as well.  We want to try and get the tempo of the game up for the full forty minutes.  Assuming we remain healthy, we have high expectations to hopefully compete for our conference title and be very competitive in the NCAA Tournament."

The Firebirds open up the season on November 12th at home against Alderson Broaddus College.