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SOU men have new blood and high hopes

ASHLAND -- Southern Oregon University men's basketball coach Brian

McDermott has shown he can quickly turn around a struggling college team.

Case in point: McDermott transformed Dakota State into a winner in 1990

after it had failed to have a winning season in 23 years prior to hisarrival.

In 1992, he coached the Trojans into the NAIA Final Four.

Four years later, he had similar designs when he landed in Ashland.

When he arrived, McDermott, 41, may not have fully understood the diffi-

culty in rebuilding Southern Oregon, which hasn't had a winning seasonin

seven years and has the least scholarship money with which to work.

But he learned quickly about those, and other, realities.

In McDermott's first season last year, Southern Oregon won just two of31

games, going 0-14 in the conference.

But with seven newcomers to blend with seven returning letter winners,a

new season has produced high hopes.

The Raiders open play at 2 p.m. today when Humboldt State visits McNeal

Pavilion.

Southern Oregon then visits Chico State Tuesday, the University of Port-

land Thursday and Utah State Saturday.

It's a tough early schedule to get through, says McDermott.Hopefully,

it will help us get ready for the season in a hurry and help us improvefaster.

Leading the seven-player cast of newcomers is 6-foot-8 center Ryan Valley,

a burly junior transfer from Cal State-San Luis Obispo.

He averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds for Clackamas Community College

two years ago as a sophomore. He sat out last season at San Luis Obispo.

He's a big boy at 235 pounds and he's not very smooth, saysMcDermott.

But he takes up a lot of space and makes his presence felt inside.He bumps

people around a lot.

Two other new Raiders to watch are transfers from Lane Community

College. They are 6-2 junior shooting guard Dave Arbow and 6-6 power

forward Amos Baker.

All three will start today.

(Arbow) is a very good mid-range shooter and a very good passer,says

McDermott. He has good court presence.

Baker may be the Raiders' best athlete, says McDermott.

The other starting wing for Southern Oregon will be either 6-3 juniorChris

Schmerbach from Klamath Union or 6-3 freshman Barron Lacy from Marsh-

all High of Portland. Lacy transferred to SOU from Portland State.

In addition to Lacy, McDermott is high on two other true freshmen who

figure to play significant minutes. They are 6-3 forward Shavon Haynesof

Illinois Valley and 6-2 point guard Tom Chipps of Marist of Eugene.

Two important returning players for the Raiders will be point guard

Jacques Francis and 6-7 center Scott Logue, a junior from Grants Pass.

Francis started SOU's first 10 games last season and averaged four assists

and three steals per game before becoming academically ineligible.

Logue started 29 games for the Raiders last season, but he is expectedto

back up Valley at center and play some power forward.

Also returning is 6-1 guard Clason Whitney, a former South Medford player,

who was the Raiders' second-leading scorer last year with a 9.7 average.

Whitney will play on the wing and come off SOU's bench.

Other returning letter winners for the Raiders are 6-8 former South Med-

ford center Ryan Ilten, 6-0 senior guard Sean Carroll, 6-4 junior guardFred

Cuthbert and 5-10 sophomore point guard David Alexander.

I think we'll definitely be better in a lot of areas, saysMcDermott. We

will push the ball more and our half-court offense will be different.We will

run a sideline triangle offense a lot. It's something I wanted to runbefore,

but we never had time to learn it completely.

No one wants to go through the kind of season the Raiders had last year,

says McDermott, particularly him.

Last year's season is a motivating thing for us, he says.We were in a lot of games until we lost our point guard (Francis)after 10 games. He makes a big difference because of his quickness. We hada good recruiting year, and we think we can win every game we play in theconference.Today'sSports Index,