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Originally published: 2012-11-01 22:04:46
Last modified: 2012-11-01 22:04:46

ASU men's basketball team hosts Lees-McRae

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Appalachian State’s men’s basketball team gets its first chance to see how it matches up against somebody other than themselves  at 7:30 tonight when they host Division II neighbor Lees-McRae in an exhibition game at the Holmes Center.
Mountaineers coach Jason Capel has plenty to look at when his team takes the court. Appalachian State lost four seniors and two transfers from last year’s edition, which won its first Southern Conference Tournament game over College of Charleston, but lost to UNC Greensboro the next round.
Appalachian State must also deal with not having point guard Mike Neal for the first nine games of the season. Neal is academically ineligible for the first semester, but returns Dec. 19 to play at South Carolina after the semester is over.
Neal averaged 8.3 points per game, the second highest among returning players. He also dished out a team high 91 assists.
That leaves five other returning players and nine newcomers. Forward Jamaal Trice started 21 of the 30 games he played last season. He returns with a 9.1 points per game scoring average.
Guard Tab Hamilton started in 19 of the 29 games he played last season. Hamilton averaged 8.0 points per game, and was third on the team with 31 steals.
Forward Nathan Healy also returns after seeing his playing time increase significantly toward the end of last season. Healy, who is the only senior on the team who has played his four years at ASU, averaged 6.2 points per game last season.
There are plenty of newcomers to look at. Tevin Baskin, a junior forward, scored 23 points in the Mountaineers’ Black-and-Gold scrimmage. Jay Canty, a transfer from Xavier who had to sit out last year because of NCAA rules, added 17 points in the first half.
The game will also be the unofficial debut of former Ashe standout Tommy Spagnolo. He did not play last season after playing at Radford in 2010-11. Former Avery guard Dustin Clarke must sit out the season because he transferred from Hartford this year.
“We’ve got junior transfers who have already played in the NCAA and we have freshmen,” Trice said the first weekend of practice. “As far as Appalachian State’s team, we’re meshing good. We’re all going hard.”