Despite the second-year coach having a two-year record of 6-55, athletic director Vaughn Williams is convinced that Preston will be the coach going forward, and he is already looking forward to the beginning of the new season in November.
“He’s the right man for the job,” Williams said. “He had some things to overcome and he had to change the culture of the program.”
When he was hired, Preston was charged with cleaning up the academic issues that came under former coach Tony Ingle’s watch and landed the program on NCAA probation. Two years later, the men’s basketball team is part of an athletic department that had a combined grade-point average of 3.1.
But while the Owls’ stature in the classroom has improved, their performance on the hardwood has not.
After suffering through a 3-28 season in 20011-12, Kennesaw State went 3-27 this season — a year that came to an end Saturday with a 67-49 loss to Florida Gulf Coast. The lone point of improvement came in Atlantic Sun Conference play, and that was winning two games compared to zero a year ago.
In both of Preston’s seasons, Kennesaw State has failed to qualify for the eight-team A-Sun tournament.
“We were hoping to win more games, there’s no doubt,” Williams said. “(Preston) would have loved to win more games. But we grew and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Fans of the Owls’ program dating back to the Division II days, when the team was winning 20 or more games a year and claimed the 2004 national championship, may disagree.
Kennesaw State entered the season with all-conference performer Markeith Cummings, who went on to finish his career as the Owls’ all-time leading scorer with 2,048 points — the fourth-highest total in A-Sun history.
The Owls also had Aaron Anderson, who completed his three-year career as Kennesaw State’s all-time leading rebounder (743), and point guard Delbert Love, who made last season’s all-freshman team.
But Williams said that, in having to reconstruct the team, some losing may be necessary for long-term success.
“To build anything great, it takes building a strong foundation,” he said. “We’re not trying to do things short-term that may compromise what we are doing for long-term success.”
The 2013-14 season shapes up to be a big one for Preston and the Owls. He will have a complete roster of players he recruited — led by Love, who averaged 12.2 points and was the team leader in assists, steals and 3-pointers.
Kennesaw State will also benefit from the additions of a pair of big men. Bernard Morena, a 6-foot-8 forward, and Willy Kouassi, a 6-10 center, transferred from Auburn last year and sat out the 2012-13 season because of NCAA transfer rules.