Atlantic Sun Offseason Recap
by Amanda Breedlove
On March 2, 2002, No. 3-seeded Florida Atlantic upset No. 1-seeded Georgia State, 76-75, in the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball tournament. The single elimination tournament was played in the UCF Arena in Orlando, Florida, from February 28th to March 2nd. Florida Atlantic won the championship game and a bid to the NCAA tournament after Georgia State missed its final shot of the game with six seconds left on the clock.
Three Florida Atlantic players were named to the 2002 All-Tournament Team, including Raheim Brown, Earnest Crumbley and Jeff Cowans. Three Georgia State players also made the team, including Bam Campbell, Lamont McIntosh and Thomas Terrell, who earned tournament MVP honors. The Owls were defeated in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Alabama, 86-78, on March 14th. The Panthers made an appearance in the NIT Tournament, but lost in the first round to Tennessee Tech, 64-62, on March 13th.
The 2001-2002 Atlantic Sun All-Conference First-Team included Raheim Brown (Florida. Atlantic), Robert Rushing (Troy State), Lamayn Wilson (Troy State) and Adam Sonn (Belmont). Georgia State’s Thomas Terrell was named the A-Sun men’s basketball Player-of-the-Year.
All of the members of the All-Conference First-Team were seniors, except for Belmont’s Adam Sonn. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior will return this season as a center for the Bruins.
The 12 teams of the Atlantic Sun Conference will return all of its head coaches in 2002-2003, including Georgia State’s Charles “Lefty” Driesell, who with 782 wins in 40 seasons is the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA history.
The A-Sun has two additional universities joining the conference. Gardner-Webb University, located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, will participate in its first year of play in the conference in 2002-2003. Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, will begin play in 2003-2004.
The 2003 Atlantic Sun Conference men’s basketball tournament, hosted by Georgia State, will be played March 6-8 in Atlanta. The conference will be separated into two divisions this year. The North Division will be composed of Campbell, Belmont, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Gardner-Webb. UCF, Jacksonville, Florida Atlantic, Mercer, Stetson and Troy State will compete in the South Division. David Lipscomb University will be a member of the North Division when they officially being conference play next season.
The offseason has been relatively routine for the A-Sun’s 12 men’s basketball, with a few exceptions.
Campbell University has rebuilt almost its entire assistant coaching staff after two coaches left, including long-time assistant coach Joe Gallagher, who left over the summer to accept an assistant coaching position with the Boston Celtics. In his three years at Campbell, Gallagher brought over 30 years of experience to the staff in serving roles as recruitment coordinator and player-development for the Camels. Gallagher was replaced in July with Myron Guillory (Virginia Tech, ’99). Campbell also added assistant Rob Burke (Chowan, ’95), while eighth-year assistant coach Cliff Dillard and 18th-year head coach Billy Lee round out the staff.
At Florida Atlantic, graduating senior Raheim Brown, who led the Owls with an average of 16.4 points per game last year, dropped an appeal to play another year at the school to pursue a professional career.
As the new season rapidly approaches, many teams face a renewed challenge after saying goodbye to several key players from last season.
Troy State University lost three players, including first-team all-conference selections Wilson and Rushing and four-year letter winner Donnie Pemberton.
Georgia State will have to go without Terrell, last year’s Atlantic Sun Conference player-of-the-year and conference MVP. The Panthers also lose three other seniors.
Campbell wishes farewell to seniors Jay Carter and Zydrunas Stankus. The Camels also lose seniors Bobby Jones and Adam Fellers, who was the team’s leading scorer. Fellers finished last season fifth on the list of all-time three-pointers made in the conference.
Belmont loses one of the greatest players in the history of its program in senior Wes Burtner, who averaged 17.7 points per game and 3.57 three-pointers per game last season, good enough for the fourth-best total in the NCAA. Burtner was also named Student-Athlete of the Year by CollegeInsider.com last season.
UCF will face the 2002-2003 season without senior Paul Reed, who was the leading rebounder in the conference with an average of 9.0 rebounds per game. Reed averaged 13.4 points per game last season and also had 40 blocked shots.
The Jacksonville University Dolphins lose their top scorer, junior guard Travis Robinson. Robinson, who scored 14.0 points per game last season, gave up his senior season to make himself eligible for the 2002 NBA draft. Jacksonville State loses senior Ryan Chambless.