UNCW Seahawks (10-20 overall, 5-13 conference)
Projected starting five:
Sr. G Chris Dixon
So. G Craig Ponder
So. G Freddie Jackson
Jr. F Cedric Williams
Sr. F Shane Reybold
Keith Rendleman (17.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg) is the only started who has departed, and Tyree Graham (4.8 ppg in 16 games) is the only other departure who played anything resembling significant minutes.
68.7 percent of scoring and 67.2 percent of rebounding
Sr. G Ben Eblen (transferred from Alabama)
Fr. C C.J. Gettys (redshirted)
Jr. C Yemi Makanjoula (transferred from Tennessee)
Fr. F Chuck Ogbodo
A manageable non-conference slate features seven home games, including a visit from MAAC contender Manhattan and former CAA foe Old Dominion. They open the season with a visit to Iowa to play Iowa and Iowa State two days apart. The most notable road dates later are at Western Kentucky, Marshall and North Carolina, although they will also go to new assistant coach Eddie Biedenbach’s old school, UNC Asheville, in late December. In CAA play, they begin February with a daunting stretch of four games in eight days with three on the road: at Delaware, at Drexel, William & Mary and at Hofstra.
Projected finish and outlook:
The Seahawks are very much a “potential” team in that they have a lot of options and could have more if a couple of players are eligible. They have no shortage of capable bodies on the perimeter, but finding the right combination is the big challenge for Buzz Peterson. Ponder has had a fine off-season, while Dixon and Tanner Milson are the most experienced and Jackson is up there as well. Eblen will figure into the mix somehow, perhaps grabbing a starting spot, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they play four guards often. They have the bodies to play two true frontcourt players, however, as Williams is the certainty with Reybold, Gettys, Luke Hager, Makanjoula and Ogbodo as other possibilities. The team is still awaiting word on whether or not Makanjoula or Ogbodo will be eligible this season, which has made practice difficult. If they are, Makanjoula likely starts alongside Williams, who has had well-documented home and road splits in his career and must now become more consistent with Rendleman’s departure. They also need him to stay home on the post more offensively, and that has been Peterson’s big challenge since they have plenty who can score away from the basket. Peterson shook up the coaching staff this off-season, and the hope is that the players respond in a better way. Their biggest area for improvement is a need to take better care of the ball offensively, as they were fine defensively when they weren’t giving up easy baskets off turnovers.