With the departure of seven seniors at the end of last season, the Slippery Rock men’s basketball team will look to incoming senior transfer student Maurice Lewis-Briggs to step up as a leader on the team.
Lewis-Briggs, or “Mo”, transferred to the Rock from Morehead State University.
Lewis-Briggs signed to Morehead State after being recruited by head coach Donnie Tyndall and former SRU assistant coach Jareem Dowling. Both Tyndall and Dowling left Morehead State for Southern Mississippi before Lewis-Briggs stepped on the court for the Eagles. Tyndall was replaced by Sean Woods.
Lewis-Briggs played in 17 games for Morehead State and averaged 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He also averaged 17.9 minutes per game.
Arguably the biggest game of Lewis-Briggs’ collegiate career came on Nov. 21, 2012, when Morehead State took on defending national champions, the University of Kentucky, in the home of the Wildcats, Rupp Arena.
Lewis-Briggs faced off against two 2013 NBA first round draft picks, center Nerlens Noel, currently with the Philadelphia 76ers, and guard Archie Goodwin, currently with the Phoenix Suns.
Lewis-Briggs played 23 minutes, recorded 13 points and had six rebounds. Despite facing NBA talent and the coaching style of John Calipari, Lewis-Briggs remains humble about the experience.
“It was a great experience but I took it as a regular game,” Lewis-Briggs said.
After a game against Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 12, 2013, where he played 17 minutes and posted four points, Lewis-Briggs left the Morehead State program permanently.
“It was a great program,” Lewis-Briggs said, “The problem was I didn’t see myself succeeding there when Coach Tyndall left for Southern Mississippi. I liked the school and program, but I didn’t do my research on the new coach.”
After Lewis-Briggs’ departure from Morehead State, Reynolds and Walker recruited Lewis-Briggs to come to the Rock.
“My friendship with Jareem and Donnie played a significant role,” Reynolds said. “Maurice had a very close relationship with them.”
Lewis-Briggs enrolled at Slippery Rock in the fall of 2013 as a professional studies major. Even with his prior knowledge of Reynolds, Lewis-Briggs is still adjusting to his new coach.
“Coach Reynolds is different,” Lewis-Briggs said. “He is the most different coach I have ever had, but he knows what he’s doing. He is getting us ready to play at the professional level. His thoughts to the game are different once you buy into them.”
Lewis-Briggs’ faced off against his former recruiter, Tyndall, in his first game with the Rock in a preseason match against Southern Mississippi.
Lewis-Briggs classified the game as a good reunion with Coach Tyndall. Lewis-Briggs was SRU’s second leading scorer with 14 points in 22 minutes of action as Southern Mississippi won 77-65.
The Rock’s second preseason game was against another Division I opponent, the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The Panthers won that preseason contest 96-60. Lewis-Briggs played 28 minutes, earned eight rebounds and scored 20 points.
“Pitt was another good experience,” Lewis-Briggs said, “Even though it was a bad outcome.”
Last season, SRU finished with a 23-9 (16-6) record, including losses to Indiana University of Pa. in both the PSAC Championship game and the second round of the Division II National Championship. Even with eight incoming transfers, Lewis-Briggs has high expectations for himself and the program this upcoming season.
“My goal is to do better than last year’s team did before me,” Lewis-Briggs said. “I don’t know what the other teams are doing but I just want to win more games than they do.”
In the meantime, Lewis-Briggs looks forward to improving himself and his teammates. His biggest asset is his 6’8” frame and being a large presence on the court. Lewis-Briggs knows there are still things that need improvement.
“I want to help teammates out in practice,” Lewis-Briggs said, “Do the little things in practice. My defense and rebounding can be improved.”
Reynolds knows the potential impact Lewis-Briggs can bring to his team this season.
“We are excited to have Maurice on the team,” Reynolds said, “He is a talented player that has a big upside. If he continues to work hard to improve certain facets of his game on a daily basis in practice, he will have a positive impact in helping our team reach our goals.”