Blount Press Row

Dr. Dunkenstein Reloaded

Junior dunk machine just part of the show at MC this weekend

Maryville College junior Emier Bowman pounds home one of his more than 30 dunks this season. The Scots host the semifinals and finals of the USA South Athletic Conference Tournament this weekend at Boydson Baird Gymnasium. Photos by Wallace Bowden

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

It took a minute to sink in.

“He’s got over a hundred dunks,” Maryville College assistant sports information director Chris Cannon said.

What do you mean?

Since high school?

Eighth grade?

Nope.

Junior guard Calvin Songster paces a Maryville College men’s team where balance and sharing the ball mean everything.

Turns out human dunking machine Emier Bowman has that many slams in three seasons at Maryville. Wait, though. That isn’t even half the story with these Scots.

Maryville hosts the semifinals and finals of the USA South Athletic Conference Tournament this weekend at Boydson Baird Gymnasium.

Covenant College (17-9) meets North Carolina Wesleyan College (16-10) in one semifinal this afternoon at 5.

The Scots (20-6) follow against Methodist University (18-8) at 7.

The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 6.

The aforementioned Bowman is part of a talented Scots’ foursome pacing a remarkably balanced team.

Junior shooting guard Calvin Songster sets the scoring tempo at 13.0 points per game. The former Science Hill Hilltopper is knocking down 48 percent of his 3s. Junior forward Dante Hoppa is right on his heels, averaging 12.3 and 5.1 rebounds a game.

Shooting a totally understandable 50.4 percent from the field, Bowman averages 12.2 points and a team-best 6.9 caroms an outing. Junior center Colt Nokes is good for 10.6 and 6.0 rebounds a night, hitting an even 50 percent of his shots.

Junior Dante Hoppa gets set at the line.

It made for a curious look at the conference leaders a while back, Maryville coach Randy Lambert said.

“Two weeks ago, we were talking about our leading scorer,” he said. “I looked it up, and he was like 28th in the conference. There were like 27 other guys ahead of him.”

Much the same applies to Maryville’s rebounding by committee.

“We were concerned coming into the year about our ability to rebound,” Lambert said. “It’s a lot more want to … ‘I want to go get the basketball.'”

Songster is as impressed with Bowman’s record-setting dunk rate as anyone.

“He had one where I said, ‘Oh, (snap!),'” he said.

Pyrotechnics aside, Bowman’s dunks are simply another aspect of Maryville’s balanced approach.

“It takes the pressure off the individual,” Songster said.

If someone is having a bad game, “It’s not, ‘What are we going to do now?” he added. “We’re able to play a lot more comfortably that way.”

“We feed off each other,” Bowman said.

Colt Nokes protects at the rim for the Scots.

The USA South tournament stakes could hardly be higher with the champion granted an automatic bid to next month’s Division III NCAA tournament. Covenant, N.C. Wesleyan and Methodist want that automatic bid pretty badly, too, Songster said.

“We’re just trying to take it a game at a time,” he said. “We’re not talking at all about the conference championship game.”

It’s a fairly young Maryville team in the hunt for that bid. While Bowman, Nokes, Hoppa and Songster are all juniors, there isn’t a senior on roster. Several sophomores get major minutes.

“I joke with them sometimes I’m the only senior on the team,” Lambert said, “and I am.”

The Monarchs pose a tough opening matchup.

“They have five seniors,” Lambert said. “Their starting lineup is all seniors. A senior approaches a tournament in a different way; it’s their last opportunity. We’ll have to play our best basketball to advance.”

Now, about those dunks. Bowman’s feats of flying have been documented nationally with an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 after a memorable block this season, so we put the question to him directly: Do you really have over 100 slams in the your Maryville career?

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s accurate. I had five in one game once.”

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