The Oglethorpe men's basketball team returns to the court Tuesday night to take on Toccoa Falls in their season opener. The Stormy Petrels will look to improve on their 15-12 record in 2017-18, a season in which they finished third in the SAA with an 8-6 league mark and continued their streak of finishing in the top half of the conference standings every year since the SAA's founding in 2012-13.
The Petrels return four players who started 10 or more games for them in 2017-18, and another who started nine. That gives them an experienced squad to work with. Senior forward Will Perry returns as a reigning member of the All-SAA first team, while senior center Tom Inungu returns as a reigning All-SAA second team selection. Sophomore guard Lane Foster and sophomore forward Will Koch each started a majority of the team's games last season and will return to the fold this year, while junior swingman Justin Hughes played in all 27 games and started nine in 2017-18. All five will return and be joined by returning sophomore guard Tre' Rice, who played in 19 games for the Petrels last season.
That group will be augmented by a set of eight newcomers. Senior Zach Breathwaite and sophomore David Swillum enter the squad as transfers from Bridgewater (Virginia) and Wright State-Lake, respectively. They'll be joined by a group of six freshmen. Carlos Sone, Trevor Gulley, Ryan Jenei and Alex Walker will join the Petrel backcourt, while Toju Etiwe and Warner Peaks enter the picture in the frontcourt.
The non-conference schedule will be highlighted by a trip to Purchase, New York, for the AJ Buchanan Classic on the first weekend of the season, as well as a trip across town to Emory on Thanksgiving weekend to take on a pair of regional powers. At the Emory Thanksgiving Classic, Oglethorpe will take on No. 22 Maryville (Tennessee) Nov. 25 at 4 p.m. The previous day, they'll go against Randolph-Macon at 4 p.m.
In New York, the Petrels take on Sage Friday at 6 p.m. Depending on the outcome of that game, they'll either battle host Manhattanville or St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) on Saturday. The Petrels will also welcome former conference foe Trinity (Texas) to Dorough Field House on Nov. 30 for the first meeting between the two teams since 2012.
The Comfort Inn and Suites Holiday Classic will take place Dec. 29-30 in Dorough Field House, and will feature the Petrels taking on Ozarks (Arkansas) and Bridgewater. Oglethorpe also has games against National Christian College Athletic Association foes Toccoa Falls and Boyce.
They'll get their SAA slate started at defending league champion Berry on Dec. 7. The conference schedule picks up in earnest starting Jan. 4 on the road against Birmingham-Southern. The Petrels play their SAA home opener against Centre on Jan. 11 at Dorough Field House.
The Petrels get their 2018-19 slate started Tuesday night at Dorough Field House, where they'll take on Toccoa Falls at 8 p.m. They'll then head to New York for the AJ Buchanan Classic, where they'll take on Sage at 6 p.m. Friday, and either Manhattanville or St. Joseph's on Saturday.