Islanders to Face TLU in 2012-13 Regular-Season Opener

Islanders to Face TLU in 2012-13 Regular-Season Opener



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The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team will open its 2012-13 regular season with a contest against Texas Lutheran on Saturday, Nov. 10. It marks the first meeting between the two teams in Islanders lore. The game will host Military Appreciation Night, offering free tickets to all active duty and veteran military personnel.

• The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of 20 years, three months and 16 days as of tonight.

• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has no seniors on its roster, with five juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen.

• The Islanders lost to Incarnate Word, 68-56, in their lone exhibition, shooting 23.3 percent from the field.

• Newcomer Will Nelson led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Cardinals.

• Sophomore Johnathan Jordan is the leader of the team after topping the Southland in assists per game as a freshman.

• The Islanders do not have a group of five players who will see action this year that have previously played together in a competitive contest.

• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is ineligible for the postseason because of poor results in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. No Islander who played under Wilson had anything to to with the subpar score.

The result of Monday's exhibition was obviously a disappointing one for the Islanders. But for one player, it was a triumphant return to the court.

Will Nelson, a junior college transfer playing his first game in an Islanders uniform, scored 26 points on 6-of-14 shooting and nabbed 10 rebounds – seven on the offensive glass. While Nelson certainly did not play to his full ability in the contest, he did show flashes of what he may be able to accomplish in his debut season.

Nelson is attending his fifth different school in the last five years, and Monday night's game represented his first competitive contest in nearly two seasons. He took last season off of basketball to focus on his academics at Dodge City Community College. Prior to that, he played a year each at Hutchinson CC and Baton Rouge CC after playing for Port Allen (La.) High School.

He's only a sophomore, but Houston native Johnathan Jordan has been thrust into the role of leader on the young Islanders squad. Jordan led the Southland in assists per game in 2011-12 and despite his newbie status, was also among the leaders in minutes per game. With 26 starts, he has nearly as many Division I starts as the rest of his teammates combined (34).

Jordan struggled from the field against UIW, going 3-for-15 from the floor, though he did record five steals. He is also one of the most athletic Islanders, having twice won the slam-dunk contest at Islanders Invasion, thanks much to his 48-inch running vertical leap. His 138 assists last season were a new school record.

As the youngest member of last year's freshman class, Hameed Ali showed flashes of being a strong player for the Islanders, hitting game winning shots against Utah State and Sam Houston State in addition to having the ball in his hands with the chance at a win against South Alabama.

But Ali, who turned 19 in August, has shown significant growth in his maturity, particularly as a vocal leader for the Islanders. Formerly one of the most shy members of the team, Ali has become a constant voice in practice – whether he is on the court or on the sidelines.

The native of Hayward, Calif., averaged 4.3 points per game in his 30 contests a year ago. He made 13 starts and shot 32 percent from the field. In the exhibition against UIW, Ali went 3-for-6 from the floor and scored 10 points.

In the exhibition against UIW, the glaring deficiency on the stat sheet was the Islanders' shooting percentage. A&M - Corpus Christi shot just 23.3 percent from the field in the contest en route to just 56 points.

Taking Will Nelson and Hameed Ali out of the equation, though, makes it even more extreme. The remainder of the team went 5-for-40 from the field (12.5 percent) and 1-for-15 from beyond the arc (6.7 percent) in the game. Compounding that fact is that UIW shot 50 percent and had seven players score at least seven points.

Fellow sophomore Nate Maxey also jumps off the page when looking at statistics and measurables. The San Diego native posted the fourth-highest block total in school history in his freshman season, and heading into this season was measured as having a 7-foot-10 wing span.

Maxey, who averaged 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds a year ago, has added about 15 pounds to his 6-foot-11 frame and has also matured greatly off the court heading into his sophomore season.

The Islanders have one of the youngest teams in Division I, with an average age of just over 20 years, 3 months, and are one of just a handful of teams that have no seniors on their roster. In a fact that will make most reading this feel old, only one player – Will Nelson – was born in the 1980s.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is also one of just eight teams that has an average of less than one year of experience per player. The Islanders have 14 years of college playing experience among their 15 players, though only nine of those years are at the Division I level. Navy, with its 13 years of experience among 17 players, is the least experienced team in the nation on average, while Rice's eight total years of experience is the lowest overall total.

Overall, the Islanders have played a total of 2,933 minutes at the Division I level, which comes out to an average of just under 196 minutes per player. Taking Johnathan Jordan out of the mix – as he finished in the conference's top 10 in minutes per game – and the remaining 14 players have averaged just 142 minutes – just over 3 1/2 games – in their careers.