Men’s hoops has dissapointing year

A season that began with great expectations ended in disappointment and dismay for the men’s basketball team after losing in the first round of the Big East tournament to Seton Hall.
The ‘Canes were unable to duplicate the success of the previous season where they finished 24-5 and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament despite returning starters Darius Rice and James Jones. The Hurricanes finished with a record of 11-17.
The ‘Canes were led by Rice and Jones on offense, scoring 18.7 and 16.9 points per game respectively. Jones was unable to pick up the slack when Rice was either injured or in foul trouble, however, which left the team with limited options offensively.
The 2002-03 season was a breakout year of sorts for Rice, as the 6’10” junior had several outings that garnered national attention, including a 43 point game against Connecticut which featured Rice stealing an inbounds pass and hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to shock the Huskies. Rice never could put up those numbers consistently, however, as injuries and double-teams slowed him down from time to time.
The ‘Canes are fortunate to have Rice returning for his senior season, as the forward made public that he was considering entering the draft. After not liking where he was projected during pre-draft camps, Rice decided to stay in school.
Rice’s decision will be crucial in the development of head coach Perry Clark’s younger players. As freshman Robert Hite, Armondo Surratt, Gary Hamilton, Eric Wilkins, and Ismael N’Diaye all played important roles during the season, and will be counted on to keep improving next year.
The addition of William Frisby, a forward who was injured throughout the entire year, should be helpful in the Hurricanes quest to return to the top of the Big East in 2004. Frisby was thought of as a possible starter before he got injured.
The ‘Canes also brought in a nice recruiting class for the incoming season, with five prospects agreeing to become Hurricanes. Anthony Harris, a guard out of Chicago, already has Clark excited.
“I feel Anthony (Harris) is a great addition to our program,” Clark said. “He is a lead guard who can score which really compliments the players we have already signed. His versatility and decision making on the perimeter will really help us.”
The other recruit’s the Hurricanes have brought in include guard Guillermo Diaz, forward Karron Clarke, forward Leonard Harden III, and power forward Anthony King.
Clark feels King will provide a force in the middle that the ‘Canes lacked last season.
“The addition of Anthony King to our line-up will give us a physical presence down low, and a person who can rebound and score in the post,” Clark said. “He is a tough Big East type post player who has shown the ability during his high school career to score against some of the best players in the country.”
What frustrated many fans during this past season was how close the ‘Canes played some of the tougher teams in the conference without ever pulling out a win in the final minutes. Losses by five or less to Connecticut, eventual national champion Syracuse, Georgetown, and Boston College helped put a dark cloud on the 2002-2003 campaign.
With the addition of five top recruits, the development of the younger players, and the return of Darius Rice, Clark says the Hurricanes should give their fans much more to cheer about and turn some of those close losses into wins.
“I am very excited about our chances next season,” Clark said. “With all of the additions we have made in the off season we should be right back to where we were two years ago.”