|Steve Joyner looks forward with Golden Bulls in transition|
|Coach enjoys challenge of 33rd season|
|Published Saturday, November 16, 2019 10:09 pm|
|PHOTO |CURTIS WILSON|
|Johnson C. Smith coach Steve Joyner's 33rd season as Golden Bulls coach includes a young team looking to return the program to relevance in the CIAA after a 10-18 campaign the year prior.|
Steve Joyner isn’t ready to step away from a career full of memories.
After 33 years as Johnson C. Smith coach, Joyner is driven to return the Golden Bulls to relevance in the CIAA after a 10-18 season last year. Although he often fields questions about retirement, he’s looking forward.
“I’m always thinking what’s next, but I run into a lot of people who want me to look back.” Joyner said. “They talk about they remember certain things or certain students returning to campus who haven’t been around for a while and are maybe coming back to campus and it causes us to look back. It seems to be that time in my life where situations and circumstances force you to look back even though you want to be in the moment and look forward.”
There’s also the motivation of a sub-.500 season last year and a sixth-place predicted finish in preseason CIAA polling by league coaches. The Golden Bulls who were 5-13 in CIAA games and 2-12 on the road, have the ingredients and motivation.
“We’re talking to our young folks about being committed to the task at hand of being the best basketball team we can be this year from the beginning to the end,” said Joyner, whose three CIAA tournament titles are most among active coaches. “We think we have the talent at hand, more so than last year to be successful this year, to have a winning season.”
The key ingredient for JCSU is the backcourt, where senior Cayse Minor and sophomore Justice Goodloe are the starters. Minor, who averaged 17.0 points and 2.1 assists per game last year, is shifting to shooting guard from small forward. His play on both ends of the floor is critical to the Golden Bulls’ chances.
“Cayse plays on both ends of the court, he’s just as aggressive on defense as he is on offense,” Joyner said. “One of the missing statistics on him that sometimes people don’t pay attention to is how many deflections and steals he comes up with. Certainly, he is an offensive talent and if we’re going to do well this year…as long as he’s going well, we think the team will do well.”
Goodloe, who averaged 5.3 points and 2.6 assists an outing as a freshman, struggled at times with decision-making, but is more experienced. The Goodloe-Minor pairing, with contributions from sophomore Michael Roberson and Trevor Lewis, is the foundation of a solid backcourt.
“We’re trying to create that guard tandem between the two of them is one of the …things we’ve got to get going,” Joyner said.
JCSU is also more athletic in the frontcourt, too. Augustine Ominiu, a 6-9 sophomore center who was limited to 10 games last year, moves into a more prominent role after averaging 3.7 points per game. Senior Aaron Adair and Nenad Milenkovic, who averaged 6.7 ppg as a reserve last year, will be counted on for larger contributions as well.
“We have a few pieces that we’re concerned about, a few pieces we’ve added,” Joyner said. “We think if we can blend in everything together, we have a chance to be successful.”
Among the newcomers, Stephen Sherrill, a 6-3 guard whose dad Mark was an All-America at JCSU and is now coach at Fort Valley State, is worth watching.
“We’re excited about having Stephen here with us,” Joyner said. “We certainly think he has a tremendous growth pattern and upside. He’s going to do well as a student and an athlete here.”
The Golden Bulls, who opened the season Wednesday with a loss against Belmont Abbey followed by a sweep of Kentucky State and Limestone at the Tip-Off Classic, play their first five games at Brayboy Gym. Those games will go a long way toward determining whether JCSU gets off to a good start in a season that concludes at the final CIAA tournament in Charlotte. Joyner is aware Golden Bulls fans want their team to hoist another banner at home.
“We hear that from alumni, from some of the fans and within the department with the student athletes,” he said. “They know it’s one more year and they’d love to take that tournament.”
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