Another season, another new-look roster for the Lincoln men's basketball team.
With the loss of five seniors and only four returners total from last season, Lincoln coach John Moseley and his staff were busy this offseason.
It might be a shaky first month of the season — which tips off tonight against Sioux Falls in the MIAA Challenge at Kansas City — but Moseley hopes to have the chemistry in sync by the time Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play starts next month.
"When you bring a group of guys together, it's neat to watch them develop into what they're going to be," Moseley said. "They feel each other out, kind of see who's the better players, who does what well, and then you see guys start to get on the same page more. I think this team will do that."
On top of the departures, Lincoln lost a key returner during the offseason. Ni'Sean Rigmaiden, last year's point guard, suffered an ACL injury during a pickup basketball game this summer and will redshirt this season.
"We'll miss Sean's leadership and voice in the locker room as much as we'll miss his talent on the floor," Moseley said. " We were fortunate that we had already been recruiting good players that we thought could either play with him or in his absence to make us competitive at every position."
Taking Rigmaiden's spot on the roster is Marcel Burton, a senior transfer from Division I Southern. He will start at the No. 2 guard position, but at 6-foot-4, he is also capable of playing the other guard position or small forward.
"He'll get time at all three of those (positions)," Moseley said.
Taking over for Rigmaiden at point guard is Cameron Potts, another transfer from Drury. He had seven assists in the Blue Tigers' 73-56 loss last Saturday in an exhibition game at Southeast Missouri.
"Cam's a guy we recruited out of high school," Moseley said. "He initially chose Drury, and we were able to get him into the program, and since January, he's had a chance to be in the system for a semester."
Jonell Burton, a 6-4 senior guard who is Lincoln's top returning scorer with 13.8 points per game, will start at the No. 3 guard position. He is the Blue Tigers' only returning starter.
"There are a lot of things that Jonell does well to help a team win," Moseley said. "He defends, he's really athletic getting to the rim. He's having to be thrust into more of a leadership role, and we're trying to get him more comfortable with that."
Starting at the forward positions in the exhibition game were 6-8 sophomore DaMani Jarrett and 6-4 junior Alafia Oluwasogo.
Jarrett, a former Jefferson City Jay, transferred back home from St. Louis Community College.
"We're happy he chose to come back and go to Lincoln," Moseley said. "I didn't know in May, when we signed him, that he would be playing at the level he's playing right now."
Moseley said it's possible early this season for the Blue Tigers to field a four-guard lineup, something his teams have done often in the past.
"You could really see a more traditional four-guard lineup, just to put guys on the floor that can score it a little bit better," he said.
Coming off the bench at the guard position will be Marcus Cohen, a junior transfer from Mercer, and senior Zack Fields, who is entering his third season with the Blue Tigers. Bansi King, the only freshman on the roster, will also play guard off the bench.
DJ Ward and L'Kielynn Taylor are returning this season for Lincoln, while Lamont Ballard Jr., Joe Davis and Jordan Notch round out the 2019-20 roster.
Moseley said he learned a lot about his team from the exhibition game, as well as a closed scrimmage against Southwest Baptist.
"We learned the value of what's a good shot in our offense, and how that helps us dictate tempo," Moseley said. "We didn't have excessive turnovers. We've got some guys who are better shooters than what they performed at this point in a closed scrimmage and an open scrimmage. We'll see if we can figure this week how to put the ball in the basket."
Lincoln wraps up the MIAA Challenge on Saturday against Upper Iowa. The Blue Tigers host Livin' the Dream for an exhibition game Nov. 18, but their first regular-season home game isn't until Dec. 5 against Northwest Missouri.
Lincoln was picked to finish seventh in the MIAA by the coaches and sixth by the media. Topping the polls was defending NCAA Division II champion Northwest Missouri, followed by Missouri Southern at No. 2.
"Then I think you take the other 12 teams, put everybody's name in a hat and draw it out, and you could have an argument for wherever teams land," Moseley said.