The Union University Bulldogs are looking to improve on a great
season from a year ago. The Bulldogs earned a second place finish in the
conference and earned their sixth trip to the NAIA National Tournament in seven
seasons. The first object of business for the Union coaching staff was to
replace six seniors lost from 2003-04, including two starters, one of which was
an NAIA All-American. Head coach Ralph Turner and his assistant David Niven have
added four players to bolster this season’s roster. However, seven returning
players, including three starters, are back for Union which gives them a solid,
young team to enter the 2004-05 year.
Only two seniors are on this year’s team. Bruno Martinessi
and Michael Palmer are back to help lead this team far into the NAIA
Nationals. Martinessi has played all four seasons for Union and has averaged
10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds over the past three seasons. Palmer joined Union as
a sophomore and has provided the Bulldogs with size and athletic ability off the
bench with 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in his previous two seasons.
Three juniors appear on 2004-05 roster, one returning player and
two transfers. Matt Trammell (pictured right) is now playing his third
season with Union. His shooting ability has increased his playing time as he has
provided Union with 4.7 points per game and a career .364 (75-206) three point
percentage. Transfers Corey Burkett and Rod Ross are two quality
additions that will provide immediate impacts this season. Burkett, a 6-foot-3
guard, comes from Wallace State Community College where he averaged 22 points
and seven rebounds. Ross, a 5-foot-11 guard, comes to Union from Shawnee
Community College where he posted 15 points, six assists, and four rebounds per
The sophomore class for Union packs the biggest punch for Union
as three of the four sophomores started at some point during last season. Ben
Frederick (pictured left) is a returning honorable mention All-American
while averaging 15.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Marcus Cooper
returns at the guard position after averaging 6.4 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.1
rebounds as a freshman. Pierry Valmera, at 6-foot-8, scored 8.1 points
and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman. Frederick, Cooper, and Valmera were each named
to the TranSouth Conference All-Freshman Team. Chris Williams returns
after walking on last season and playing in nine games for Union.
Two freshmen fill out the roster including Courtney Jones,
a 6-5 forward from Newbern, Tennessee, and Jonathan Givens, a 5-11
walk-on from Memphis, Tennessee. Jones is following his father’s (Tony Jones
1979-83) footsteps by playing at Union. He averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, and
four assists per game as a senior in high school. Givens was an All-District as
a senior at Germantown High School.
This team is young and extremely talented. However, they will be
tested often not only in the tough TranSouth Conference but in the
non-conference schedule. Union plays the defending NAIA National Champions,
Mountain State University (W. Va.) in a home and home series. Also on the
schedule are NAIA national powers, Georgetown (Ky.), Faulkner (Ala.), and
McKendree (Ill.). Union has the opportunity to make a lot of noise and turn
heads around the NAIA if they can successfully move through this schedule.
Union basketball looks, from the start, to be set for another
run for a conference championship and a trip to the national tournament.