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James Madison Dukes 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes
jamesmadison

James Madison Dukes (21-15 overall, 11-7 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Andre Nation
So. G Ron Curry
So. G Charles Cooke
Sr. F Andrey Semenov
S0. F Taylor Bessick

Important departures:

The Dukes were a very experienced team last season, and gone from that team are four starters: G Devon Moore (11.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.3 spg), G A.J. Davis (12.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 spg), F Rayshawn Goins (12.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and G-F Alioune Diouf (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg)

Returning:

36.2 percent of scoring and 30.4 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Yohanny Dalembert
Fr. G-F Kent Jackson
Fr. F Ivan Lukic
Fr. F Tom Rivard
Fr. F Paulius Satkus
Fr. F Tom Vodanovich

Schedule Highlights:

Dukes fans had best enjoy non-conference home games while they can, because there are only two of them plus an exhibition game: Detroit in mid-November and Ball State to close out 2013. They hit the road for games at Virginia, Valparaiso and Richmond, while playing in three in-season events: Northern Illinois Tournament (three games), E-Tech Lumberjack Classic (two games) and the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic against Hampton at the Richmond Coliseum. In CAA play, they have a brutal stretch of four games in eight days in February: at Towson, at Drexel, Hofstra and at Delaware.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year, things finally broke in James Madison’s favor just enough, and a very experienced team took home the CAA title. Now the Dukes basically start over with a team that has 12 freshmen and sophomores and no true seniors (Semenov is a graduate student who got a sixth year of eligibility). With Nation suspended for the first 15 games, players like Lukic and Kent Jackson will get more of an opportunity right away than they would have otherwise. While that won’t help early on, it could help down the road as they develop another player or two earlier than they might have planned. It also means Cooke, who improved nicely at the end of last season, and Curry will have to lead the way on the perimeter. Bessick should slide into a starting spot up front, as he has improved greatly since last season, and other freshmen will back him up. Semenov offers tangibles such as shooting and intangibles such as his experience with adversity and success in his career, and this team will need every bit of both. They will also need to take better care of the ball, and early practice has borne that out as a major concern. There will be some serious growing pains for this team, especially early on, but there are a lot of options with all the size they have and a good talent base, so while the outlook isn’t good overall this season, the future looks brighter and it wouldn’t shock anyone if the Dukes knock off someone they shouldn’t late in the season.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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Northeastern Huskies 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes
northeastern

Northeastern Huskies (20-13 overall, 14-4 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Demetrius Pollard
So. G David Walker
Jr. F Quincy Ford
Jr. F Reggie Spencer
Jr. F Scott Eatherton

Important departures:

The Huskies lose two starters from last season’s team, and they are big ones: G Jonathan Lee (13.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg) and G Joel Smith (16.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg).

Returning:

60 percent of scoring and 73.8 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Kwesi Abakah (redshirted)
Jr. F Scott Eatherton (transfer from St. Francis (Pa.))
Fr. G C.J. Hill
Fr. G-F Jimmy Marshall
Fr. G T.J. Williams

Schedule Highlights:

The Huskies will play another challenging non-conference slate that features four home games.  They open with cross-town rival Boston University at the Boston Garden, then head to Stony Brook, VCU and Vanderbilt, while also opening with Georgetown in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and playing two games in the Tulane Classic.  Home games are against Central Connecticut, Ivy League favorite Harvard, UAB and Richmond.  They open CAA play with their stretch of four games in eight days.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Huskies are a tough team to project this season, but one thing is certain: they will be hard-pressed to match last season’s success given how much Lee and Smith meant to them from a production and (more importantly) leadership standpoint.  Who emerges behind them will make all the difference, and while Pollard and fellow junior Marco Banegas-Flores have had their moments, neither will make anyone forget Lee or Smith right now.  Walker will be fine after a solid freshman year, and the perimeter will be in better shape if sophomore Zach Stahl plays like he’s capable of after an up-and-down freshman year where he tried to do a little too much at times.  Head coach Bill Coen thinks Stahl may have had the best preseason of any Husky, and in another bright spot, he said sophomore guard Derrico Peck may have been their most improved player over the summer.  The frontcourt is in much better shape, as Ford should be one of the conference’s best and Spencer made a nice leap from his freshman year.  It’s now time for Ford to become an elite player in the conference, and he’s shown in the past that he can be a go-to guy when the chances have been there.  They are high on Eatherton and think he will make an impact right away, especially on the glass where they were deficient last season as they had the worst rebounding margin in the conference.  The Huskies won a lot of games with a good team concept offensively, and they’ll need to do that again this season while improving on the glass.  The former will be tough to do unless a couple of players can make up for the losses of Lee and Smith.

Next: Towson Tigers

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Towson Tigers 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes
towson

Towson Tigers (18-13 overall, 13-5 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Jerome Hairston
So. G Four McGlynn
Sr. G Mike Burwell
Sr. F Marcus Damas
Sr. F Jerrelle Benimon

Important departures:

C Bilal Dixon (6.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg) is the only starter who has departed, joined by key reserve G Kris Walden (3.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.3 apg) (transferred to Delaware State).

Returning:

85.1 percent of scoring and 77.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Barrington Alston (redshirted)
Fr. F John Davis
Fr. F Walter Foster
Fr. F Marquis Marshall (redshirted)
So. G Four McGlynn (transferred from Vermont)

Schedule Highlights:

The Tigers open SECU Arena in style with eight non-conference home games, headlined by a visit from Temple.  The road slate has plenty of challenges for a team that should contend, as they travel to Villanova, Kansas, Oregon State and North Dakota State, while also playing two games in the Lumberjack E-Tech Classic.  In CAA play, they will get tested right away, as three of their first five games are on the road against fellow contenders: Drexel, College of Charleston and Delaware.  They start February with three straight at home and end the month with three straight on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

It hasn’t taken long for Pat Skerry to turn Towson into a contender.  They return four starters from the best defensive team in the conference, including the reigning Player of the Year in Benimon.  There’s plenty to help him out, and they will have a lot of depth both on the perimeter and up front.  Damas could be an all-conference player, Burwell is a solid complement and Hairston should continue to grow with a full season now under his belt.  McGlynn should help right away on a team that didn’t shoot well from long range last year, as should all of the new frontcourt players, with Alston and Davis adding toughness and sophomore Timajh Parker-Rivera ready to play a bigger role.  The Tigers could also go with a traditional lineup or essentially play three or four guards with all of the parts they have.  The biggest challenges will be shooting better, taking better care of the ball and dealing with being the hunted after being the hunter.  The non-conference slate will prepare them well with several challenges, and they get eight home games at their brand new arena.

Next: UNC Wilmington Seahawks

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UNCW Seahawks 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes
uncwilmington

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

Important departures:

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.

Returning:

68.7 percent of scoring and 67.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Sr. G Ben Eblen (transferred from Alabama)
Fr. C C.J. Gettys (redshirted)
Jr. C Yemi Makanjoula (transferred from Tennessee)
Fr. F Chuck Ogbodo

Schedule Highlights:

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.

Next: William & Mary Tribe

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William & Mary Tribe 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes
williamandmary

William & Mary Tribe (13-17 overall, 7-11 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Brandon Britt
Sr. G Julian Boatner
Jr. G Marcus Thornton
Sr. F Kyle Gaillard
Sr. F Tim Rusthoven

Important departures:

G Matt Rum (5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.7 apg) is the only starter who has departed from last season’s team, and no other significant contributor has departed.

Returning:

91.7 percent of scoring and 84.8 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Daniel Dixon
Fr. G-F Omar Prewitt
Fr. G Michael Schlotman
Fr. F Jack Whitman

Schedule Highlights:

Six home games lead the way in the non-conference slate, including visits from Richmond and former CAA opponent Old Dominion. The toughest road games are at Wichita State in the Hall of Fame CBE Classic and at West Virginia. In CAA play, they open February with three straight on the road before four of the next five come in Williamsburg.

Projected finish and outlook:

If there’s a team that can be labeled a sleeper, this one fits the bill. The Tribe wasn’t very far from being 11-7 in CAA play, as they were in a lot of games that they had a chance to pull out. This team has a talented, veteran perimeter unit and an unheralded frontcourt group. Thornton is one of the conference’s best players, and his improvement seems to keep accelerating. Don’t be surprised if he’s among the frontrunners for Player of the Year. Britt simply wants to win and has a supporting cast that will allow him to do that as a floor leader if he stays healthy; he suffered a foot injury in October that slowed him in practice. Boatner played hurt all last year, and it showed as he shot well from long range but only managed to play just over 11 minutes a game. He’s healthy now and had a full off-season, so there’s hope that he can close out his career on a better note. Terry Tarpey is talented and plays hard, and with a year under his belt the sophomore should be even better this year backing them up along with the three freshmen perimeter players. Rusthoven is quietly a solid anchor who will at times get into foul trouble in part because of how hard he plays, while Gaillard may be this team’s X-factor. Fred Heldring, Tom Schalk and Sean Sheldon are also in the mix, and it would help if one of them distinguished himself to be the top reserve. Sheldon has made perhaps the biggest leap of that group since the end of last season. The Tribe was solid offensively last year, but head coach Tony Shaver feels they could have won a few more games with a little better defense, an area where they weren’t horrible but needed to be a little better. In his tenure, the Tribe has done well with their most experienced teams, and this one is right up there, so while few will talk about them as a contender right now it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they’re in the mix near the top come February.

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A new season brings a new feeling at Bryant

by - Published November 4, 2013 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – A year can make a very big difference for a program. In the case of Bryant, that is exactly what has happened.

Things are certainly different now than a year ago at this time. Last year, not much was expected of the Bulldogs in their first season eligible for the Northeast Conference Tournament. They were picked tenth in the conference’s preseason poll, then got off to a fast start in NEC play and rode that to a fourth-place finish and ultimately a big in the College Basketball Invitational. They won 19 games, a 17-win jump from a year earlier, and won 11 more NEC games than a year earlier, which is a conference record.

… Continue Reading

In a crucial year, Holy Cross has some potential

by - Published November 3, 2013 in Columns
holycross

WORCESTER, Mass. – The fourth season for a head coach at a program that was not winning when he took over is often a very crucial one, if not a do-or-die season for his tenure. Milan Brown is now in that year at Holy Cross, and while no one thinks he’s in any danger if the Crusaders don’t win this year, the team’s personnel is such that this year will tell a lot about where they are headed.

Holy Cross isn’t lacking talent or experience, although they have less of the latter since senior big man Dave Dudzinski is the only senior on the team. They return over two-thirds of their scoring and rebounding from last season. In addition, it’s a team full of his players as no one currently in the program played for a prior coach at the school. The classes that will determine where this team goes are largely the junior and sophomore classes, all of whom have pretty good experience for where they are in college and thus need to show good growth.

… Continue Reading

URI will be improved but something of a mixed bag for now

by - Published November 2, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
rhodeisland

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – You could excuse anyone last year for wanting to look ahead to this season at Rhode Island. There was probably some of that among the fan base, although those in the program didn’t do that. “Next year” is now here, and while expectations are certainly higher for Dan Hurley’s team, in all what they look like is a mixed bag at this point, and that was reinforced in their 93-77 victory over Southern Connecticut State University in an exhibition game on Friday night.

Last year, things got so bad that the Rams had to cancel a scrimmage due to a lack of available scholarship players. That was one more hit to their preseason preparation. This year, there is no such issue.

… Continue Reading

The most important players in America

by - Published November 1, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

Oftentimes, a team’s most important player isn’t necessarily their best player.  While a team’s best player can sometimes carry them to victory, there are some whose play is an important barometer of how their team goes for one reason or another and not necessarily how good an overall player they are.

It’s no accident that for many teams, a point guard fits the bill.  The point guard position is hugely important in basketball and especially in college.  Many a good team with an elite wing or big man has been slowed by a point guard that couldn’t lead the team to the promised land, and likewise many teams have had a point guard emerge unexpectedly and lead them to greater heights than first imagined.  That said, many of the players who made this list don’t play the point.

… Continue Reading

Best players no one knows about

by - Published October 30, 2013 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

Marcus Smart gets a lot of attention at Oklahoma State. Rightly so: all he did as a freshman was win Big 12 Player of the Year honors in leading the Cowboys to 24 wins. After that, he bypassed the NBA Draft, where he would surely have been one of the top three selections, and his winning ways continue to get him a lot of publicity and preseason honors this season.

Along the way, it’s easy to miss Markel Brown. But opponents know the senior guard who plays alongside Smart, and they would ignore him at their own peril. Brown might be the best player no one knows about, hidden behind another star on his own team in addition to the conference.

… Continue Reading

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