SAINT LEO, Fla. – Classes are in session and the excitement is already building for the Saint Leo Men's Basketball season once the calendar heads into November. Just this week a simple phrase on the men's basketball Facebook page that read "Big things coming this year" had the fans abuzz as the memories of last year's success still sit fresh with Lions' fans.
Lance Randall's 2012-13 squad begins the year with some lofty goals and expectations, but the Lions continue to build a résumé which moves them into the upper tier of the nation's elite teams.
Let's looks at some impressive facts and figures as we build toward Tip-off 2012:
- With an 18-12 overall record, Saint Leo qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time as the South Region's No. 5 seed
- Saint Leo returns all five starters from 2011-12 and nine of their top-10 scorers
- The Lions finished with the second-most wins in program history (18)
- The Lions advanced to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship Game for just the second time in program history.
- At one point in the season Saint Leo won eight-consecutive games to close out the regular season and claimed a program-record nine straight wins in total
- After being picked to finish last in the Conference in 2011-12, the Lions surprised everyone but themselves by finishing third in the regular season
- Statistically, the Lions ranked at the top of the SSC in scoring defense, field goal percent defense, 3-point defense, and defensive rebounding
- In his first season at Saint Leo, Head Coach Lance Randall was named the SSC's Coach of the Year
- Saint Leo finished last season fourth in the nation in scoring defense (58.7 points/gm)
- The Saint Leo defense was proven in the NCAA Tournament game against Florida Tech when starting senior Tom Neary posted 10 blocks.
- The Lions were also 10th in the nation with a 39.6 percent field goal average defense
- Randall's squad finished 2011-12 tied for 19th in 3 point field goal defense (30.4%)
- Saint Leo introduced three talented freshman signings, as all three were ranked in the top-100 players in Florida
- Last month the Lions announced the addition of Chim Kadima, a versatile wing from Division I Loyola-Chicago
- After a redshirt season, talented guard Jerrel Harris joins the Lions backcourt
- Last season saw starter Trent Thomas earned All-Conference First Team honors and was also named the Newcomer of the Year and NABC All-District as he positions himself for Player of the Year honors
- Also positioning himself for Player of the Year accolades is returning starter Marcus Ruh who finished 2011-12 as an All-SSC First Team member and a member of the All-Newcomer team.
"We are looking forward to coaching a team that returns so much talent and experience," Randall said. "This is a tough-minded group that has embraced a steel curtain defensive mentality. We have added two very good veterans in Jerrel Harris and Chim Kadima as well as three talented freshmen that greatly upgrade our depth."
These numbers, stories and the exciting additions are just a small part of what the Lions have in store for this season as the Green and Gold supporters begin to ramp up toward November.