USC Aiken enters season with high expectations

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — The USC Aiken men’s basketball team made huge strides last season. The Pacers tripled their win total, going from six wins in Mark Vaderslice’s first year as head coach, to 18 wins last season.

The Pacers far exceeded outside expectations last season by finishing third in the Peach Belt Conference. This season, the Pacers were selected to finish third in the Peach Belt Conference preseason poll. With several key players returning, USC Aiken expects to do even better.

“The success last year definitely put a little bit more pressure on us, but we invite it,” senior guard Paris Ballinger said. “We want to win a championship. That’s the goal, and I think we have the team do it this year.”

“We want to be at that number one spot,” senior guard Henry Bolton III said. “We know what we have to accept. Every challenge we have, [we understand] this is the territory. If we want to be number one we have to play against the best competition. We’re ready for it.”

“Obviously, we have our internal goals, which are to compete for a championship, that never changes,” third-year head coach Mark Vanderslice said. ‘We want to make sure we compete at the regional level and the national level and we will continue to keep promoting those types of ideas. But, I want to make sure our guys understand that everyday we’re looking to take steps forward, and if they make progress everyday in practice and in games, that’s what I’m looking for.”

The Pacers open their season Wednesday, November 15th at home against Paine College.


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