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August 5, 2013The excitement is in the air on the ULM campus with the start of football practice. Inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum though the Warhawk men's team is hard at work with a new look team.
Fourth year Head Coach Keith Richard landed nine new faces for the upcoming season. While all are welcomed additions, as the program continues to rebuild from heavy APR sanction; perhaps the biggest addition to the roster is point guard Nick Coppola. The 6'1" guard comes to Monroe, La from Richmond, Va.'s Benedictine School, where he averaged 9.3 ppg and 6.5 assists.
"Everything has been going smoothly so far, and I've had a really great experience so far on campus," he said. "We've all been putting in some hard work in the weight room and on the floor. We are all real focused and intense. I can't tell from these workouts that this was a four win team last season."
The struggles of running the offense at the guard position forced standouts Amos Olatayo and Jayon James to play out of their position; while forcing the now departed Trent Mackey and Trey Lindsey into more minutes than Coach Richard would've liked.
"I see a team that didn't have a point guard last year, but I'm just glad for the opportunity to play and come in and make a difference here," Coppola said. "I'm all about this team this year, and whatever happened in the past is there; I really don't feel any pressure on myself, just for us to get better."
Coppola is quick to praise the leadership of Olatayo and James, while saying the newcomers Marvin Williams and Tylor Ongwae have really impressed.
"Amos is always telling us just how excited he is to have all of us new guys here," Coppola said. "He has us all fired up and we all know that this will be a better year."
The Warhawks will get a big first test in the season, as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse for a season opener against Kansas. Despite this Goliath opponent, Coppola feels that the team will be focused on the big picture of competing in the Sun Belt Conference.
"I think it's natural to be a bit in awe of Kansas; they are a nationally ranked team, but really that game is just one game, and doesn't make or break our season," he said. "I don't think anyone is going into the season not wanting to be in the top eight of the conference, to make the conference tournament. That's probably our biggest goal of the season."