By Anthony Rhoads
To say the head coach Gordon Gibbons has turned around the Clayton State men's basketball program might be an understatement.
The Lakers, under his direction, went 19-9 in the 2001-02 season and captured their first regular season Peach Belt Conference championship.
Last year, the team went 17-12 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the PBC tournament.
This year, the Lakers are primed to have a breakthrough season and they already have gained national accolades. In this year's Street and Smith's college basketball preview magazine, the Lakers have been tabbed as one of the top 25 NCAA Division II teams in the nation.
Gibbons is also approaching a personal milestone this year as well. Going into the 2003-04 season, Gibbons is 18 wins shy of 300 victories. With 282 wins, Gibbons is one of the winningest active Division II coaches.
Before becoming head coach at Clayton State, Gibbons led Florida Southern to nine 20-win seasons, six NCAA Division II tournament appearances, two Elite 8 appearances and one trip to the Final 4.
The Clayton State program is gaining more respect and more interest is being generated in the community.
The excitement is not just being generated with the men's program. The Lady Lakers are an up-and-coming women's program. Last year, the Lady Lakers won 16 games, the second-best season in school history.
The Lady Lakers are guided by legendary head coach A.C. McCullers.
Before coming to Clayton State, McCullers compiled a career record of 648-157 and was one of the top high school basketball coaches in Georgia and the nation.
He guided the Morrow girls to four state titles, 19 state tournament appearances, 12 regional championships and nine trips to the Final Four.
An exciting brand of basketball is being played at Clayton State right now and if you want to see a good college basketball game, come out to Clayton State this season.
It's not Division I but it's still good basketball and for a general admission price of $5 with children 12 and under getting in free, it's a value that can't be beat.
The Lakers open the regular season this Saturday at home against Southeastern before traveling to Charlotte to play in the Charlotte Classic at Johnson C. Smith University. Clayton State will then play host to Carver on Dec. 3 and West Georgia on Dec. 6.
The Lady Lakers open the season this Saturday at North Alabama. They play host to the Heritage Bank Tip-Off Tournament next Friday and Saturday. Teams include Brewton-Parker, Eckerd, Barber Scotia and Clayton State. The Lady Lakers will then travel to Carrollton to play in the West Georgia Classic.
Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for The Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.