With seven returning letterwinners, all seven of whom who earned at least one starting assignment for Gardner-Webb last season, Holtmann and his team have their sights set on making a move in a challenging Big South Conference in 2012-2013.
“What a great time of year,” said Holtmann, who is entering his third season at the helm of the storied Gardner-Webb program. “I’m so excited to get started with this team. Our goal, as always, is to do today – each day – well. I am looking forward to this journey with this team.”
Second-team All-Big South guard Tashan Newsome (6-3, 200, RSr.) headlines the returning group for Gardner-Webb, with Max Landis (6-2, 175, So.), Tyler Strange (5-9, 175, So.), Kevin Hartley (6-6, 235, Sr.), Mike Byron (6-10, 245, Jr.), Donta Harper (6-6, 180, So.) and Corey Hensley (6-8, 220, So.) also gaining valuable experience last season.
Newcomers for the squad include forwards Onzie Branch (6-6, 215, Jr.) and Jerome Hill (6-5, 210, Fr.) and guards Isaiah Ivey (6-2, 190, Fr.), Logan Stumpf (6-6, 185, Fr.) and Jarvis Davis (6-0, 180, RSo.). Davis sat out last season after transferring from Conference USA member UCF and will push for extensive playing time at point guard. Both Branch and Hill are versatile forwards who can score in a variety of ways and Ivey produced at a high level in one of Kentucky’s best prep programs. Stumpf is a sharpshooting wing from Harrisburg, Pa.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs will play in the South Division for the Big South’s first season of divisional play. The six-team division features, in predicted order of finish by the league’s coaches: Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, UNC Asheville, Winthrop, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian.
Gardner-Webb split with Charleston Southern and Winthrop last season and was competitive in four combined losses to Coastal Carolina and two-time defending league champion UNC Asheville. Presbyterian topped GWU in the two teams’ lone meeting last season. All 12 teams are eligible for the league’s tournament crown, which will be played in Conway, S.C., in early March.
Teams will play each divisional opponent twice in 2012-2013, and will play each member of the opposite division once. Campbell, VMI, High Point, Liberty, Radford and newcomer Longwood make up the North Division.
Gardner-Webb opens its regular season on Friday, November 9, at North Carolina. Opening tip is set for 7:00 pm in the Dean E. Smith Center.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs will play their first home game the following night, hosting Covenant College at 7:00 pm in Paul Porter Arena.