The 2011-2012 Northern Kentucky University men's basketball regular season will get underway on Nov. 12 against the University of Cincinnati-Clermont. Head coach Dave Bezold and his newest assistant coaches hope to better their chances of winning their first Division II national title.
"We are excited about what type of team we have a chance to become," Bezold said.
Bezold added two assistant coaches to his staff this year—Darris Nichols and Dustin Maguire.
"I know how hard the business of college coaching is and for Dave Bezold to give me the opportunity is a blessing," said Nichols.
Nichols was hired at the end of July after previously spending time at West Virginia University as a point guard and then as a graduate assistant. He had the opportunity to work with veteran coaches John Beilein and Bob Huggins.
"Playing and working for those two coaches helped me develop an understanding for the game because their styles of play are polar opposites," Nichols said.
He went on to say that there isn't much difference between WVU and NKU other than brand size.
"It's exciting to be part of the process where we are trying to make NKU a household name not only in the state of Kentucky, but at a more national level," Nichols continued.
After setting the record at WVU for most games played without an injury, Nichols blew out both knees, playing just one year professionally, overseas. Nichols said the experience taught him lessons he could pass on to the younger players.
"The biggest thing that European basketball has taught me is how important it is for players to graduate. It has helped me stress to the guys how important a college degree is."
Maguire spent the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons as a standout shooting guard for NKU.
"The time I spent playing here was the best experience of my life," he said.
Maguire isn't a stranger to the coaching scene either. Last season, he helped coach his high school team in Illinois. It was an experience that allowed him to realize his childhood dream of being a basketball coach.
Maguire has been surprised by the similarities between playing and coaching.
"As a player, I was always looking for opportunities to get open and make plays. Now, as a coach, I really enjoy helping the guards do the same," he said.
Junior Ethan Faulkner and senior Tony Rack stand out for Maguire this season.
"They have set the bar so high for the other guys to follow," he said.
Senior center DeAndre Nealy is one of the newest recruits on the Norse roster. Transferring from Kent State University, he is most known for his shot-blocking ability. However, that's not the only reason Bezold put him on the team.
"DeAndre has a very high basketball IQ that no one talks about." said Bezold .
Before the regular season gets underway, Norse fans will be able to watch their team play three exhibition games against Division I schools Marshall University, West Virginia University and the University of Cincinnati.
Bezold said that those games should help in areas such as confidence and player combinations.
Maguire too, has high hopes for this year's Norse.
"If we can continue to come together and work to get better each day in practice, I believe the sky is the limit for this team," Maguire said.