The 2012-2013 season for the Southern Oregon University men’s basketball team is shaping up to be a memorable one.

Winning their first two games in Cascade Collegiate Conference play, the Raiders are 9-3 and ranked No. 16 in the nation.

They are led by sophomore center Eric Thompson, who is optimistic about the outcome of the season.  “We have more talent this year [than last year],” says Thompson who is the Raiders’ leading scorer, averaging nearly 16 points per game.  “We have a different approach with a whole new offense and defense.”

Effective preparation has been a key to the Raiders’ success.  According to head coach Brian McDermott, “Practice has gone well. We are ahead offensively and a bit behind defensively. We have a great amount of depth and are in the process of figuring out our rotations.”

Along with Thompson, the Raiders have other weapons that could be crucial to the team’s journey to the national tournament.

“Jeff Bush is a key at the point guard position,” says McDermott.  “If his level is where we think it will be the team will rise. Getting David Sturner comfortable with his role early will also be a key. And of course, making sure that we are able to counter what teams are doing defensively to Eric Thompson will be a key.”

The Raiders are setting their sights on a conference title which, according to McDermott, is the surest way of getting to the national tournament.

Thompson said his goal is even higher.  “A national title has never been won here before and to win one this year would be pretty special.”

The Raiders take on Eastern Oregon University Friday at 7:30 p.m. at home.

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