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UNCW Seahawks 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes

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.


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

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

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.


91.7 percent of scoring and 84.8 percent of rebounding


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.

Back to CAA Preview

A new season brings a new feeling at Bryant

by - Published November 4, 2013 in Columns

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

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

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

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.

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Best players no one knows about

by - Published October 30, 2013 in Columns

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.

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Notes from Sunday at the Northeast Exposure Showcase Championships

by - Published October 28, 2013 in Columns

DERRY, N.H. – BST Hoops held its Northeast Exposure Showcase Championships and New England Prep All-Star Game this weekend.  Now in its fifth iteration, the event was held at the SportsZone just off Route 28 in Derry and included some of the best players in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with some prep school players in one particular game.

Teams from the four states played in scrimmages on Saturday to set up seeding for the tournament portion on Sunday, then a semifinal and championship game was played, with the NE Prep All-Star Game in between.

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It all seems to be coming together for Towson right now

by - Published October 26, 2013 in Columns

BALTIMORE – It didn’t take long for Towson to go from outhouse to penthouse, at least in terms of perception. It was only a couple of years ago that Pat Skerry had taken the job and started off with a depleted roster for the ages, then had a record to match it. Now, the Tigers are the pick to win the CAA title this year, and although there will be some fierce competition, it’s an understandable selection. It’s also the latest indication that the program may be on the verge of turning a corner at last.

For much of their CAA existence, Towson has struggled. The Tigers never had a winning conference record until last season’s 13-5 mark, and had bottomed out the prior two seasons with records of 0-18 and 1-17. The last time they had a winning conference record (and overall record as well) was in their first season in the America East Conference in 1995-96, when it was still known as the North Atlantic Conference.

… Continue Reading

New-look CAA trying to find its place in the changing landscape

by - Published October 23, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

BALTIMORE – As the Colonial Athletic Association goes through more changes, it’s natural to wonder where its place is in college basketball now.  The conference has had major membership changes over the last year and a half, and locations for major events like Media Day and the conference tournament are also changing.  While there is certainly a feeling of newness, one wonders what lies ahead for a conference that had a great run from 2006 to 2012 before things changed drastically.

The CAA is just one conference that is changing in an ever-changing landscape.  In the short term, the conference can be labeled one of the losers in the conference maneuvering.  In the last 18 months, George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU – the conference’s signature programs historically – have all departed, along with a Georgia State program that wasn’t in the conference long but looks like it might be on the rise under Ron Hunter.  What remains starts with five former America East schools and then includes newcomer College of Charleston and three charter members in James Madison, UNCW and William & Mary.  Next year, Elon joins the conference.

… Continue Reading

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