Thursday, December 25, 2008

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Bulldogs open the season with Bulldog Madness; take the Gospel to inmates
November 10, 2008
By Garrett E. Wishall

Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture at Boyce, goes up for a basket during the faculty vs. Bulldogs game, Oct. 28. The game was one of the activities at Bulldog Madness 2008. Photo by Abigail McBroom

Hundreds of Boyce College students rooted, hollered and clamored for their team, while also taking part in shooting contests and collecting door prizes at Bulldog Madness 2008, Oct. 28 in the Health and Recreation Center on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Boyce Bulldogs head coach Jed Coppenger said the support of the student body is exciting for his team as he enters his inaugural season as coach.

"We look forward to playing in front of our crowd a lot during the second half of the season," he said. "We are on the road a lot the first half of the season, but Bulldog Madness gave us a taste for home games and hopefully the fans will be ready to generate a lot of excitement when we are playing at home."

This was the first year for the Bulldog Madness event, which included a faculty vs. Bulldogs game, three-point contest, hot spot contest and several door prize giveaways.

"The stands were filled for the event," Coppenger said. "In the hot shots contest, students were paired up with basketball players shooting shots for different point values from different spots on the floor. There were several student-led cheers, which were a lot of fun as well. It was a good chance to build community among the players and students."

The faculty vs. Bulldogs game went to overtime before the Bulldogs won 36-32 in a game that featured two seven-minute halves.

Faculty who participated include Denny Burk, dean of Boyce; Mark Coppenger, Distinguished Professor of Christian Apologetics at Southern; James Hamilton, associate professor of biblical theology at Southern; Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture at Boyce; Brian Payne, instructor of expository preaching and pastoral leadership at Boyce; Lawrence Smith, vice president of community relations and dean of students for the Southern and Boyce; and Chip Collins, associate dean for student life at Boyce.

On Oct. 25, the Bulldogs played against a team from Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. After the game, which the Ballin' Eagles won 134-78, Coppenger and the players met individually with several inmates to talk and share the Gospel.

"It was a bit of an intimidating context, in which to play, but the guys did great," he said. "After the game, we were able to break off and talk to the inmates one-on-one about the Gospel. I was encouraged that our guys were willing to use basketball as a platform to share the Gospel."

Coppenger said he is setting up another game with Luther Luckett on a future date and is seeking to set up opportunities for Bulldog players to speak at prison chapel services. Team captain Jeff Pearson said the chance to minister defines what Bulldog athletics should be about.

"We were able to get some good competition. They were some of the most humble, fun guys I have played against in my three years with the Bulldogs," he said. "Many of us had a great opportunity to share the Gospel and learn some life experience lessons from them. As we ministered to them, they very much encouraged us as well. That sort of opportunity is what Boyce College desires this team to have: we are not just playing basketball, but about advancing the kingdom of Christ through this team."

The Bulldogs compete in the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association II and are beginning their third season of play. The Bulldogs boast four returning players, including two returning starters from last year's squad. Senior forward Ben Ward and junior guard/forward Pearson will lead the Bulldogs as they seek to build on their 6-21 campaign of a year ago that saw them go 3-3 over their final six games. Ward led the Bulldogs in points scored and rebounding, averaging 25.2 and 8.6 per game, respectively. Pearson connected on 83 percent of his foul shots last year and brings veteran leadership to the Bulldogs.

Sophomore guard Blake Rogers and senior guard Josh McClure also return from last year's squad. New faces for the Bulldogs include freshmen guard Andrew Fink and forward Micah Tufts, sophomore forwards Andrew Kelley and Jacob Rogers, and junior forward Shawn Daniel.

Pearson said he looks forward to the beginning of the Coppenger era and what the Bulldogs can do as a team this year.

"With Jed coming in, he has a good direction for the team," Pearson said. "He has some experience playing at the college level. I am very optimistic for the season. We have a schedule that favors what we want to accomplish as a team. We have an opportunity to make a statement, especially in our conference this year."

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