Men’s basketball returns to practice with high hopes

(Heather Tabacchi/ The Penn)

After a 24-5 season with an exciting, but devastating, triple-overtime loss in the NCAA tournament to West Liberty, Indiana University of Pennsylvania looks to rebound better than ever.

With veteran leadership lost due to the graduation of Marcel Souberbielle and Mathis Keita, IUP returns one starting senior, Devante Chance (senior, communications).

Chance averaged 10.9 points per game while averaging a career high 4.3 assists a game. As one of the team’s three seniors, he is the most seasoned player with 89 career games and 35 career starts.

Returning starters Jeremy Jeffers (senior, communications media) and Brandon Norfleet (junior, communications media) will look to help the team reach the next level. While both players are entering their second seasons as Crimson Hawks, they have also had experience elsewhere.

Jeffers – a transfer from Division I University of Drake – provides talent and a high-percent shot from anywhere on the court. Last year, he averaged 8.4 points a game while sharing scoring duties with many other players.

Conversely, Norfleet – a transfer from Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference opponent Cheyney University – is a seasoned scorer with 11.0 points per game, the third best total on the team last year.

IUP will undoubtedly look for him to up his scoring and create opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Rounding out the rest of the starting lineup, IUP will most likely start junior big man Devon Cottrell (communications media) and sophomore guard Cornell “Manny” Yarde (computer science).

Both will likely be expected to contribute as the last two members of the Crimson Hawks’ starting five.

Cottrell, a 6-foot-7 player, averaged 5 rebounds a game and 6.3 points last season.

This year, he is expected to hit the boards much more with the losses of Souberbielle and Keita.

Yarde, a two-time freshmen of the week winner, will be looked at to contribute more this year and up his 3.4 points a game with the help of DeVante Chance’s passing skills.

IUP will make trips to Pittsburgh on Oct. 31 and to Tampa Nov. 8 to take on Division-I schools the University of Pittsburgh and South Florida University as preseason games.

The Crimson Hawks, who held their fourth annual Select-A-Seat night for men’s and women’s basketball season tickets Oct. 8, also made a recent appearance in Sporting News’ Division II Preseason Top 10 poll.