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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

October 12th, 2006


UNC Greensboro Head Coach: Mike Dement


Coach Mike Dement's squad will host a BracketBusters series contest on the weekend of February 17.In his first year since returning to Greensboro, Mike Dement's Spartans won 12 games, but struggled mightily on the road. If past history is any indication though, Dement who built winners at Cornell, UNCG in the mid nineties and SMU, will have his team back above .500 in no time.


Shawn Siegel (CHN): How does this year's schedule compare to recent seasons in terms of difficulty?

Mike Dement (MD):   It is definitely the most difficult since the first year of
Division I in 1991 when we played as an independent. We play a full
Division I schedule and with 3 ACC teams, a Big Ten team and two Conference USA teams plus a bracket buster opponent. There is no room for error. We better be good right out of the gate and throughout the year. There is no time to come along. I worry about momentum and confidence but the schedule should definitely prepare us for anything the top teams in the league can show us size and strength-wise. The games we have with programs that on paper look more like us seem to all be on the road. We have to learn to steal some of those


CHN: How will you deal with the losses of your lone senior?


MD: We had one senior on roster last season (Devin Boddie) who did not play much until late in the season. He gave us a nice spark in the last couple of games but because of injuries he was never healthy enough to be in there much.

I think this is a big year for Ricky Hickman. He has worked hard in the
off-season on a lot of things and I am hoping he has a great year. He put up good numbers for us last season but if he commits himself to the
defensive end and rebounds like he can, he will have a great year, help us win more games, and he will have a real chance to continue to playing after he leaves UNCG.


CHN: What will the strengths of this yearís team to be?

MS: We have 8 players returning that started at one time or another last season and each played extensive minutes against a tough schedule. Hopefully that will pay off with some of that experience carrying over. Obviously two of our strengths come from having two all-conference players returning in Kyle Hines (1st team media & coaches) and Ricky Hickman (2nd team media, 1st team coaches) to build around. David McClenny was named to the All-Freshman team as well. If he can play this year as he did in the last 4-5 games of last season, then he can be a real strength for us as well.


CHN: How bout weaknesses?


MD: Our defense -- or lack of -- was our weakness last season, as was rebounding. We had some inconsistency shooting the ball the last third of the season both from the floor (with the exception of Kyle Hines) and from the free throw line.

We also have to find ways to win games on the road - it was a real weakness last season.


CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out as being an unheralded leader and contributor?


MD: Dwayne Johnson would be that player. As our only true scholarship point guard he played a lot of minutes and was at times our best defender. He improved his shooting from his freshman year and we will need him to continue to get better. Ironically in a couple of key wins, Dwayne was the one that hit the big shot or free throws.

Kevin Oleksiak probably falls into that catergory as well. He really improved statistically from his freshman year to last season, particularly early. A late season injury set him back and we missed his offensive production, which I think also cost us some momentum going into the conference tourney.

CHN: What should we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?

MD:  We have 5 new freshmen who I think as a group can be a good lineup as a five down the road. It is always interesting to see who will emerge as a rookie season goes on. Ben Stywall has the most experience having played at Fork Union as a prep last season. He can play both the 3 and 4 spots I think. We will have to decide how to best use him from a position
standpoint. He is as excellent rebounder, and we lacked that last season.  So if Ben rebounds, he will play.

Omar Jones has looked good in workouts. I call him a "6". He can play the 3, 2 and 1. He needs a lot of weight gain and strength but he is very good in the open court and can score.

Kendall Toney attacks the basket well. He plays and competes hard and wants to be good. It might be hard to keep him off the floor especially if he gets the attitude of wanting to be a defensive stopper.

Mikko Koivisto can really shoot it. He has a quick release and can get really hot from the outside. I like his size as a 2/3 man and I think he is a tough kid.

Pete Brown is big with long arms in the same mold as Kyle Hines. Playing against Kyle each day in practice will be a great learning experience. He blocks shots and has a good touch and if he becomes as explosive as Hines he will be a very good player in the SoCon.

I like the group and we need some of them to step forward and challenge the others


CHN: Are you pretty well settled with your starting lineup? If not, what should we expect to be the biggest battles for a starting position?

MD: We do have a number of players returning that played a lot of minutes, but I hope the freshmen will challenge a couple of positions. We just didn't play defense the way we needed to in order to win last year. We scored plenty of points, but we didnít get it done on the other end of the floor and we didn't rebound well as a team. If the newcomers or the guys that
came off the bench last season will be great defenders and rebounders, then they will take over some minutes. Hopefully that type of competition at practice will raise the level of our play throughout the year.



CHN: Thanks Coach.  Good luck.


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