New look for men’s team as season is set to open

Looking up and down the roster this week, I noticed two things.

One, there is an abundance of talent and experience returning from last year’s team.

Two, there’s no Steven Wright. But it’s not the end of the world.

Players like Wright come around once in a blue moon at best. Wright had Division I talent written all over him. Greg Oden isn’t coming back to Columbus.

Kevin Durant will be in Seattle this year, not Austin. Teams lose stars to attrition every year, and Northern is no exception.

Ken Shields never had the luxury of the freak athlete that was Wright. Dave Bezold probably enjoyed every minute of it.

But that was then, this is now. The Norse has a Great Lakes Valley Conference Eastern division crown it must uphold. As usual, they have to run through the gauntlet that is the GLVC.

Three of the four top scorers from last year are gone. James Cripe, the lone 7-footer in NKU history, has graduated leaving a hole in the paint.

However, Travis Rasso will have to step in and assert himself on the low block.

The Norse desperately need some sort of inside presence to assert themselves in the GLVC, and we hope Rasso is the answer.

He averaged 3.3 points per game and had three starts as a junior.

Best case scenario, the Norse can use Rasso and rotate junior college transfer Brad Hosler. Both of them are 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds..

Billy Finnell and Anthony Teague, junior college transfer, will have to become the leaders on this team. Finnell has established himself as a legitimate point guard in his three previous years.

He passes exceptionally well, penetrates and can distribute to guys on the perimeter and has a better outside shot then what most people give him credit for. Finnell shot 49 percent overall and a respectable 33 percent from behind the arc in 2006-07.

Teague, who spent his first two years at Dodge City Community College and the University of New Mexico, provides athleticism on the wing.

While he only averaged 17 minutes of action a year ago, he averaged nine points per outing. He brings a solid jump shot to the table and is deadly from beyond the arc, shooting at a 40 percent clip last year.

Bottom line, the Norse return a solid core. Although Wright’s departure hurts, it shouldn’t devastate the returning nucleus of players. This team has a shot at repeating, providing they stay healthy.

The season begins Nov. 16 agianst UC-Clermont in the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic at 7:45 p.m. in Regents Hall.

Besides, the so-called experts predict a second-place finish.

God knows they’re always right.