For the St. Catharine College Patriots the 2012-2013 campaign was one that they would like to forget; the Patriots finished 9-11 in the Mid-South Conference and 13-14 overall, their worst since their first year of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) participation. During that year the Patriots finished with a 1-12 conference record and only 5-24 overall. “It’s hard to believe that a year in which we finished last in the conference is easier to swallow than one where we finished seventh. We just never could bring all of our talent together” says head coach JT Burton.
The 2013-2014 season looks to be one where the Patriots will need to replace three seniors, Travis Wilkins, DeShawn Mitchell, and Marquis Lee. Between the three the Patriots will lose 42 points per night along with 22 rebounds. “We have some spots to fill, especially inside with the loss of Travis [Wilkins]” says Burton of his seniors. Travis Wilkins, a 6’8” center from Spartanburg, S.C., averaged just under 14 points per game along with 9 rebounds.
JT Burton plans to solve his problem with a strong recruiting class that he hopes will be his most coachable team. “We have a quartet of new guys that want to learn and blend with our current foundation” says Burton about his recruits. Among those four are Christian Johnson (Bowling Green, KY), William Bailey (Valley, AL), Emory Bennett (Miami, FL), and Antonio Owens (Lexington, KY). “Inside will still be our biggest challenge, but I feel like Emory [Bennett] will be able to help fill the void. Emory is “back to the basket” kind of guy that will work hard and even step out to shoot the three” says Burton.
The Patriots newcomers will join a trio of returning starters that will look to improve on their disappointing season. Omar Skinner, a guard from New Castle, D.E., will look to lead the Patriots with his defensive abilities that led to 65 steals last season. Joining Skinner in the Patriot back court will be senior Dominique Roy, Penns Grove, N.J., who spent much of his time last season running the Patriots offense from the point guard position. William Tolefree, a forward from Stone Mountain, G.A., will help inside with his versatility and ability to shoot the ball.
According to coach JT Burton it will be difficult to make up a starting lineup until the season is closer, due to the equal amount of talent on the floor. “This team will have to find a leader, but they will be very coachable” says Burton about his new squad. “I’m hoping to see these guys compete for positions and make practice a priority; it has to go further than the court, every activity counts.”
Along with the addition of talented athletes Burton is happy to announce that Brandon Johnson, former Patriot basketball standout, will be taking on a larger role in the Patriot’s coaching staff. “This will be a natural transition for Brandon. He is able to relate to our athletes and bring the best out of them” says Burton.
The Patriots will need the best out of their players to compete in the Mid-South Conference, especially with two teams winning national titles in the past 3 years, Pikeville 2011 and Georgetown 2013. When asked about the league Burton simply replied “We wanted to join this conference for a reason, and if we learn to be a team, we will be successful.” The Patriots will kick off their season on October 31, 2013 when they welcome the Dragons from the Virginia University of Lynchburg into Lourdes Hall.