|Senior Jordan Lyons and the Paladins will take on Winthrop at the
Bon Secours Wellness Arena Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman
Furman (9-3) returns to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the first time since it was known as the Bilo Center in the 2006-07 season. The Paladins, who lost to College of Charleston in overtime there on Feb. 19, 2007, host another in-state foe Saturday in Winthrop. Saturday's game, the first of three "Weekends at the Well" for Furman this season, is set for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Furman coach Bob Richey says it certainly has a bigger feel than a typical non-conference game, but his team can't allow it to necessarily feel that way.
"We don't need to make it any more than it is. The court's going to be the same dimensions and still have 10-foot goals. We're going to go play Furman basketball, but understand that it's showtime," Richey said. "There's a lot of people that will be talking about this and a lot of people that will be looking at us for the first time.
"My biggest hope Saturday is regardless of the hype, that we make it about the substance of how we play and who we are. ... That when those people walk out of the Well, they say 'that's a connected, hard-playing, tough team right there.' "
Saturday will mark Furman's seventh game in 19 days and comes at the end of final exams. The Paladins are coming off a 90-65 win over North Greenville Wednesday in which no starter played more than 24 minutes. Sophomore Mike Bothwell came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points Wednesday.
Furman has four players averaging in double figures this season in Noah Gurley (15.2), Jordan Lyons (14.4), Clay Mounce (14.2) and Bothwell (10.5).
Winthrop (4-6) is led by Josh Ferguson, who's averaging 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. D.J. Burns averages 11.5 points per game also for the Eagles.
"They're really good. They beat Saint Mary's earlier this season. They've got a big ole boy who transferred from Tennessee and a guard that's 6-6 and passes as well as anyone I've seen on film," Richey said. "So we're going to have our challenges, but man what an opportunity.
"I'm excited about it and our team is. It's an opportunity to get into the city and hopefully generate some interest from people who haven't seen us play. That will continue to further our brand and our program."
Saturday's Weekends at the Well festivities begin with a fanfest at the Furman Plaza entrance at 4 p.m. There will be giveaways, inflatables, concessions and a DJ. The Furman band and cheerleaders will join fans there to welcome Richey and the Paladins for a Champions Walk at 4:25 p.m. Santa Claus will be on hand inside the entrance from 5-6 p.m. for pictures.
Saturday's game will wrap up the non-conference portion of Furman's schedule. The Paladins open Southern Conference play next Friday at Mercer at 7:30 p.m.