Trojans hope different look brings success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 22, 2009

Traditionally, a basketball team is made up of two guards, two forwards and a center.

However, the 2009-10 Troy team will utilize four perimeter players and a single post player in an effort to present match up problems for its opponents.

“Most teams likes to have two big post players, which means one of their post guys has to guard one of our perimeter players,” said head coach Don Maestri.

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Troy will also focus on being versatile on the perimeter so that any player on the floor can play any of the four perimeter positions at any given time.

“Once we get into the half court, the point guard’s responsibility is really no different than the other perimeter players,” Maestri said. “Those guys run the same rules and the same driving responsibilities and pass responsibilities.”

The especially good news for the Trojans is that all four of the starters on the perimeter this season are returnees from last year’s 19-13 team.

Three of those starters, senior guards Brandon Hazzard, Michael Vogler and Richard Delk, were all all-Sun Belt performers last season.

The group is undoubtedly led by Hazzard, who was a first-team all-Sun Belt performer last season and was named the 16th best shooter in the country by prior to the start of practice.

Hazzard averaged 18.3 points in Sun Belt play and shot 45 percent from 3-point range over the course of the season.

Maestri said Hazzard should be a more complete player this season, as he spent the off-season working on his ball handling and shooting range.

“Brandon is going to have to play Mike’s position when Mike’s out,” Maestri said. “Brandon’s worked very hard on his ball handling over the summer. He’s really had some of the most intense workouts we’ve ever had a player go through. When he’s bringing it up the court, he can stop pretty much anywhere on the court and shoot. That is a valuable asset.”

Hazzard’s improvement will come in handy, especially since Maestri expects he will see more attention from opposing defenders this season.

“Brandon’s going to be keyed on a lot more,” Maestri said. “I know Western Kentucky isn’t going to let him beat them again.”

That increased attention could lead to a drop off in numbers, something Hazzard said is insignificant next to winning.

“I just have my eyes on the wins,” Hazzard said. “As long as I just stay focused on winning, everything else will fall into place.”

Also returning is second team all-conference selection Richard Delk. Delk, a former transfer from Mississippi State, averaged 14 points per game last season, numbers that were good enough to earn him the Sun Belt’s Newcomer of the Year award.

Delk said he has worked on his offensive game even more over the off-season, and should have a new threat to go along with his driving and 3-point shooting abilities.

“Last year, I don’t really think I had the midrange game,” Delk said. “I kind of shot the three or drove it all the way to the basket, so I just worked on the midrange game over the summer.”

Also returning is point guard Michael Vogler, a third-team all-Sun Belt selection last season. Vogler led the Sun Belt in both assists and steals while also averaging 10.2 points per game.

The fourth returning starter is Antywan Jones, quite possibly the unsung hero of the Trojans.

“Antywan has a very good feel for the game of basketball,” Maestri said. “He’s one of our best passers, and I think a lot of people really don’t realize how good he can pass a basketball. He’s a very intuitive defensive player.”

The Trojans open the season with an exhibition game against West Alabama at Trojan Arena on Nov. 9.