The key, according to departed senior Jordan Brooks, to last year's record season, was "feed the bull."
The "bull" was departed senior Kirk Archibeque, who, like Brooks, was a reverse transfer from a Division I college
This year's bull is a familiar face: Durango High School alumnus Matt Morris.
"He's established himself," Fort Lewis College men's basketball coach Bob Hofman said. "Even two years ago, really, he
Archibeque, another local product from Montezuma-Cortez High School, led last year's Skyhawks to a program-best 24
Morris, redshirted last season primarily because of Archibeque's presence at center, began his FLC career with
promising averages of 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game as the Skyhawks' big man of the future.
The future is now.
"He's so fundamentally sound. He plays hard. He uses his body so well," Hofman said.
Morris will man the middle, but all eyes will be on the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year
in DeAndre Lansdowne.
Lansdowne leads FLC into its 2009-10 regular-season debut at 7:30 p.m. today against Calumet College of St. Joseph, the
first of the Skyhawks' two home games this weekend in the George B. Boedecker Foundation Classic at Whalen Gym.
FLC will host Grand Canyon at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.
"Everyone is working hard," Hofman said. "We'll see how it translates into game time. This should be a fun group, fun
to watch. They have a huge upside."
Gone from the program are Skyhawk stalwarts Ryan Jameson, Ryan Yates and Trent Bowman, all of whom played with local
Brooks is absent from the point.
Archibeque is absent from the paint.
"We won't have the style of play that we were known for last year," Hofman said.
"I think year-to-year that changes. This year, we'll be more of the type of team that Fort Lewis has been known for in
the past. We'll be more of a perimeter-oriented team; all of our big guys can step out with range."
Hofman mentioned redshirt freshmen Matthias Weissl and Torrey Udall, the
6-foot-2 and 6-foot-8 players from Roaring Fork. He mentioned 6-foot-4 swingman Connor Drumm. He mentioned 6-foot-2
guard Kit Hensel.
"We're going to try a lot of different guys in a lot of different roles," said Hofman, who has more than 450 coaching
wins at the high school and college level.
"I'm excited about it."
Hofman's three locks in the lineup are Morris, Lansdowne and Kyle Behrens.
"Those three guys, they're ahead of the pack," he said. "They've been there, done that in big games."
The uncertainties are promising, however.
Matt Billups, a true freshman from Los Lunas, N.M., will receive significant time at the point, and transfers David
Kanyinda and Daniel Steffensen will be counted on heavily, as well.
Kanyinda, who was perfect from the floor and scored 19 points in 17 minutes in the Skyhawks' season-opening 10-point
exhibition victory against Division I Northern Arizona two weeks ago in Flagstaff, will miss "at least two weeks, maybe
more" with an ankle injury suffered in practice three days ago, Hofman said.
"He's such a good scorer, and he's really disappointed because he was excited about playing," Hofman said. "That's OK,though; like I told the boys, get all the injuries out of the way right now."
Hofman said Billups is "penciled" in as the starting point guard, which would allow Lansdowne to play off the ball at
"D is a very established player in this league," Hofman said. "He needs to keep stepping up, show great leadership and
Lansdowne's game was enchanced this offseason with the "Gun," a catch-and-shoot machine designed to help develop a
player's outside shot.
Hofman said Lansdowne took "100s of shots a day" then saw his star player's game improve.
"Absolutely," he said. "He has a quicker release. He's more confident with his shot. Now lets see if it translates into
"I'm a firm believer in the harder you work, the luckier you get.
"This is an eager group," Hofman said. "They're working hard to get better."