First Posted: 10/13/2011
PEMBROKE — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke men’s basketball team has some unfinished business to settle.
The March loss to Augusta State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament prematurely ended the Braves’ best season since joining Division II hoops in 1992.
Ben Miller’s Braves open the 2011 season Nov. 11 against St. Andrews in the opening round of the UNCP Holiday Classic but get back to work — along with the women’s squad — next week during a “Moonlight Madness” event on campus at the English E. Jones Center.
Hosted by a DJ and free for students, the two-hour night of flash on the hardwood tips off at 8 p.m. Thursday, culminating with a 10-minute scrimmage between the men’s and women’s teams.
Shahmel Brackett and Nate Priest bolster an experience-laden men’s roster that has its sights set on the school’s first-ever Peach Belt Conference championship — and more.
Brackett, UNCP’s leading scorer each of the past two seasons, followed up his PBC Freshman of the Year laurels in 2009 with a team-best 15.3 points per game last season, starting all 30 games for the Braves. With a knack for getting to the rack and finishing on the break, Brackett garnered the attention of The Sporting News recently and was named an honorable mention for the publication’s Preseason DII All-America list.
Priest, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, posted career-highs in nearly every statistical category last season as the team’s sixth man, helping UNCP become one of the PBC’s top teams defensively. Priest should be a mainstay in the paint for the Braves along with “Big” George Blakeney.
The Braves reached the PBC Tournament Championship game for the first time ever a season ago after being picked last by the league’s coaches in the preseason. Entering his fourth season as UNCP’s coach, Miller’s record has improved each of the last three seasons in Pembroke.
Before theNov. 11 opener, the Braves play preseason DI favorite North Carolina in ChapelHill and hostAthletes inAction. Reserved seats are available for the contest against the Tar Heels.
Braves Club members have the option of purchasing up to four tickets to the game featuring preseason All-AmericansHarrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller while non-season ticket holders can buy two.
Staff writer Brad Crawford can be reached at (910) 272-6119 or at [email protected]