Previewing Catawba

The Tar Heels play their second and final tuneup on Saturday with an exhibition game against Catawba College. The game tips-off at about 5 p.m. at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Location: Salisbury, N.C.
Enrollment: 1,300
Conference: South Atlantic (NCAA, Division II)
Nickname: Indians
Colors: Navy Blue & White
Head Coach: Jim Baker (12th year)
Career Record at CC: 203-114
Last Year: 23-7 (12-2, SAC)

Returning Starters: 
   Brian Graves (6-2, 190, Jr.)  - 12.5 ppg, 5.0 apg
   Ahmad Murphy (6-2, 180, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.3 apg
   Jolly Manning (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 7.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg
   Helgi Magnusson (6-6, 200, Sr.) – 14.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg
   Andy Thomson  (6-9, 205, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg

Key Returnees: 
   Jamel Hamilton  (6-2, 180, So.) – 12.5 ppg
   Chris Wooldridge  (6-6, 185, Jr.) – 9.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
   Brian Frasier  (6-0, 175, Sr.) – 2.8 ppg
   Jason Diggs  (5-11, 170, So.) – 2.9 ppg, 1.0 apg

   Norman Monroe (6-6, 220, So.) Newport News, Va.
   Finnur Magnusson (6-9, 225, Fr.) Reykjavik, Iceland
   Darion Williams (6-5, 180, Fr.) Charlotte, N.C.

Pregame Notes

* Last season, Catawba made the D-II NCAA Tournament for the second straight season -- and for the second straight season lost in the first round to the eventual D-II national champion. They concluded the 2004-05 campaign with a 23-7 record, which included a first-place finish and 12-2 record in the South Atlantic Conference.

* All five starters return from last season's squad, as well as the top two reserves. Three of those returnees received all-conference honors last season. Helgi Magnusson was a first-team all-conference selection, while Brian Graves was named to the second team. Jamel Hamilton was an all-freshman team selection. All three last month were named to the preseason all-conference team - and the Indians are the preseason pick to repeat as conference champs.

* Helgi Magnusson is the team's top standout. After leading the team last season in scoring (14.7) and rebounding (6.8), he has been selected as a preseason All-American by Street & Smith Magazine. Magnusson has also played for the Iceland National Team.

* Jamel Hamilton, the sophomore guard, was the team's best three-point shooter a year ago, connected on 65 threes at a 39.4 percent clip. Floor leader Brian Graves is the leading defender (2.0 spg), while Jolly Manning, despite only being 6-4, led the Indians with 54 blocks last season.

* Head coach Jim Baker, entering his 12th season, was a Division I assistant at Virginia Tech (1989-91) and Davidson (1981-89). His ties to international camps and clinics has led to the presence of some talented foreign players on the roster.

* The Catawba community isn't treating this as just another exhibition game. Buses have been organized to take fans from Salisbury to Chapel Hill and there's even a t-shirt to celebrate the event (see at left).

* The Catawba basketball program has been in existence since 1926, with 1,106 total wins. In four of the last seven seasons, the Indians have been crowned the SAC Tournament champions and advanced to the NCAA Div. II Tournament regional.

(Thanks to SID Jim Lewis for his assistance and contributions to this preview.)

Inside Carolina Top Stories