COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - After three tough weeks of practice, workouts, conditioning, and film study, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team gets to take its game to the court for the first time when it hosts Bluefield College at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in an exhibition to kick off the 2009-10 season, the eighth under head coach Mike Sutton.
The Golden Eagles will be led by three experienced seniors, including Frank Davis and Will Barnes who are each beginning their fourth season at Tech. Senior Elijah Cunningham-Muhammad embarks on his second season as a Golden Eagle, and the team returns four of its starters from a season ago.
Tech advanced to its 21st consecutive OVC tournament last year, and was picked to finish in seventh place in league for 2009-10.
Sophomore Kevin Murphy was named to the Ohio Valley Conference's all-newcomer team after averaging almost 10 points and three rebounds as a freshman last season. The addition of four newcomers who are eligible to play right away will make an impact for the Golden Eagles on the inside and the outside. Junior transfer Byron Pickens, an athletic forward who stands at 6-foot-7 and freshman Terrell Barnes, a 6-8 forward will crack the rotation down low for Tech, while freshmen Chase Dunn and Jud Dillard will see action at the guard and wing positions.
"I like our kids and I like our team," Sutton said. "We won't be as big, but I think we'll be a little more athletic, a little better handling the ball, and I think we'll be an exciting team to watch with the kind of young people that we have, so I'm really excited about this year's team."
Bluefield, a member of the NAIA's Appalachian Athletic Conference, has played twice already this season, falling to Hiwassee College 89-83 before beating Barber-Scotia College 98-53. The Golden Eagles are 6-0 all-time against Bluefield College, and last met in 2007-08 when Tech beat the Rams 117-88.
Tech will begin its regular season with a string of four straight road games between Nov. 13 and Nov. 20. First Tech will face No. 18 Minnesota to open the regular season on Nov. 13. The Golden Eagles will then travel to play Central Arkansas of the Southland Conference on Nov. 16 before visiting in-state foes Lipscomb and Memphis on Nov. 19 and 20. Tech will play its home opener on Nov. 23 when Oakland visits the Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles will host 14 home games throughout the 2009-10 regular season, including nine OVC contests. For season ticket information contact the Tennessee Tech ticket office at 372-3940.