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UNCW Seahawks 2012-13 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2012 in Conference Notes

UNCW Seahawks (10-21 overall, 5-13 conference)




Projected starting five:

Fr. G Craig Ponder
Jr. G Tanner Milson
So. G Freddie Jackson
Sr. F Keith Rendleman
So. F Cedric Williams

Important departures:

Three starters are gone, all via the transfer route: G Adam Smith (13.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg), Donte Morales (7.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 apg) and K.K. Simmons ( 7.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.9 apg)


53.1 percent of scoring and 71.1 percent of rebounding


Jr. G Marcus Graham (junior college)
Sr. G Tyree Graham (transfer from Rutgers)
Fr. G Chris Dixon
Fr. C C.J. Gettys
Fr. F Luke Hager
Fr. F Alex Kilmartin
Fr. G Craig Ponder (redshirted)
Fr. F Dylan Sherwood

Schedule Highlights:

The Seahawks won’t have it easy, but it won’t be like last year when they had to travel all over the place. But they have five home games on tap, with road dates at Ohio, Purdue, Davidson, Richmond, Marshall and Georgia Tech. In CAA play, they catch a break by getting George Mason and Drexel just once each.

Projected finish and outlook:

A year after the Seahawks looked to be starting over, they appear to be doing just that again as three underclassmen transferred in part because the program was declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to low APR scores. The Seahawks once again are a team heavy in freshmen and sophomores, and although they have one of the conference’s best players in Rendleman and a rising star in Williams they also have a lot of questions. Ponder returns after redshirting last season, and should immediately run the show as their most talented floor leader. Milson and Jackson are capable perimeter partners, while Tyree Graham could start right away as well as one of the team’s most experienced players despite being a newcomer to the program. The real strength is up front as there is potentially very good depth behind Rendleman and Williams, the latter of whom made big strides late last season. Last season was a rebuilding year, but this season looks to be another one in Wilmington as they try to build for being eligible for postseason play again in another year.

Next: William & Mary Tribe

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William & Mary Tribe 2012-13 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2012 in Conference Notes

William & Mary Tribe (6-26 overall, 4-14 conference)

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Brandon Britt
Sr. G Matt Rum
So. G Marcus Thornton
Jr. F Kyle Gaillard
Jr. F Tim Rusthoven

Important departures:

Two starters have departed: G-F Quinn McDowell (12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 apg) and G Kendrix Brown (4.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 apg)


72.3 percent of scoring and 70.8 percent of rebounding


Fr. F Sean Sheldon
Fr. G-F Terry Tarpey

Schedule Highlights:

The Tribe will get some challenges in non-conference play as they have road games at Purdue, Vanderbilt, Richmond and Wake Forest. Home games are hard to come by, with just four on the slate, and aside from the aforementioned road games it’s not an overwhelming schedule. Early in CAA play, they play three straight on the road before coming home for three straight.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year was one to forget for the Tribe as they were ravaged by injuries and never got untracked. McDowell was never 100 percent and Gaillard had to redshirt, and the inconsistency of Britt and Boatner didn’t help. It’s a new year, though, and there is good talent returning primarily on the perimeter. Britt and Thornton can create all day, while Rum can play off them well as the third guard. If Boatner finds his stroke again, which is not a given since he had knee surgery over the summer, the Tribe will have as deep a perimeter unit as any team in the conference, especially since Tarpey will be too good to keep on the bench. Gaillard’s return is a big boost up front, where Rusthoven very ably held down the fort as well as could be expected last season. With Gaillard back and sophomore Tom Schalk ready to make a jump after they hoped to redshirt him last year, the frontcourt in theory will be significantly better this time around. Gaillard gives them more options, including defensively, and if others up front like Schalk and Fred Heldring benefit from the experience they gained last season, it will be a blessing in disguise. Only Hofstra allowed opponents to shoot a better percentage from the field last season, and if the offense struggles at times again the defense will have no choice but to be better. William & Mary is usually a team with little margin for error, and this team doesn’t look any different in that regard.

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2011-12 ACC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 19, 2012 in Conference Notes

Kendall Marshall, Leslie McDonald, Dexter Strickland.

Those three Tar Heels were supposed to anchor the North Carolina backcourt entering the 2011-12 season. With Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels figured to have one of the deepest set of guards in the country to pair with a great front line led by Tyler Zeller and John Henson. And that’s before accounting for Harrison Barnes, projected to be one of the best wing players in the country.

But injuries decimated North Carolina’s backcourt, forcing coach Roy Williams to run with little-used freshman Stilman White and jack-of-all-trades Justin Watts in the team’s most important game of the season, an Elite Eight clash with Williams’ old squad, the Kansas Jawhawks, in St. Louis. … Continue Reading

Idaho State makes a decision

by - Published March 15, 2012 in Conference Notes

Last Thursday, Idaho State finally made it’s choice, hiring Montana assistant Bill Evans as it’s head coach. So far, reaction has been mixed by at least one of the couple of forum posts dedicated to the decision as well as the local scribe’s feelings. Here’s the traditional “welcome to town” article. We shall see what transpires from here; we’re also awaiting word on the NAU coaching search.
Coming Monday/Tuesday: A look at Montana’s matchup with Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament; other postseason matchups and thoughts.

The Big Sky Championships: who’s gonna win

by - Published March 6, 2012 in Columns, Conference Notes

This is what the head honchos wrote on Monday:

Big Sky (March 3)
Top seed: Montana. The Big Sky regular-season championship came down to the final game, in which the Grizzlies avenged their only loss in Big Sky play by beating Weber State in Missoula.
Tournament stakes: Although Weber State and Montana have 23 wins apiece, neither team will reach the NCAA Tournament without the Big Sky’s automatic bid. If either team claims the Big Sky championship, it will probably enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed. If any other team finds a way to win, it would likely receive a No. 16 seed.
Spoiler alert: No. 3 Portland State. The Vikings are the only other team in the tournament with a winning record, and Portland State won six of its final seven. Although they fell short in games against Denver, Wyoming, Oregon, Montana and Weber State, the Vikings kept games close against a few heavy favorites. This lineup featuring mostly juniors and seniors could find a way to make a run.
Predicted champ: Montana. The Grizzlies have lost just twice at home this season, and that was to San Francisco and Nevada by a combined nine points. Since mid-December, the Grizzlies have been shredding opponents, winning by double digits in 14 of 18 victories. A championship game against Weber State would likely be a thriller, but the Grizzlies should be heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

Here’s three reasons why the Griz will capture it all.
1) Dahlberg Arena. There are benefits to having one of the loudest, tightest, most packed game-to-game arenas in the Big Sky. It averages roughly 4,500 a game, but can jam in almost 7,500. Montana is 41-6 at home in the past three seasons. And did I mention it gets loud in there when the Griz go hunting?

2) Will Cherry. The junior guard, recently named First Team All-Big Sky Conference, netted 16.1 points per game and 3.3 assists per game in Big Sky play. He’s money at the line, sinking 82.6% of his foul shots 71-of-86) and sinks 49.7% from the field (87-of-175). More importantly, he was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors after pacing the conference with 2.6 steals per game (sixth in the nation) and spearheaded a Griz defense that allowed a league-low 61.4 points per game, a league-low 39.8% shooting, and a league-low 32.8% from 3-point range.
And did I mentioned he held Weber State’s Damian Lillard, the conference MVP, to 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including a 2-of-11 3-point effort. If you watched that game, you noticed Lillard was hounded by Cherry every time he touched the ball in the winner-take-all game last Tuesday. Lillard did have three steals, but had no assists – and Lillard is a point guard.

3) The veteran presences and leadership. Of the five key contributors to the Griz, most of them have started much of their careers. Senior Derek Selvig has played in 91 games, starting 57 of them. Classmate Art Steward has played in 61 games in two seasons, starting 47 of them. Juniors Cherry and Mathias Ward have played in a 91 games, the most possible, and Cherry has started 80 of them. Sophomore Kareem Jamar has played in 56 games and started 37.
And we haven’t even touched on the coaching staff that’s been there since 2006 – or the fact the Griz have been to the last three BSC title games. So let’s touch on that by repeating it – UM has been to the last three BSC championship games.

Playing catch-up: the Big Sky all-conference team & “first-round” analysis

by - Published March 5, 2012 in Conference Notes

Well, a lot has happened since yours truly was able to take a breath and get back to Big Sky updates.
First, we’ll look at the all-conference team.

Individual Award Winners
Damian Lillard, Weber State

Newcomer of the Year
Collin Chiverton, Eastern Washington

Freshman Of the Year
Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State

Defensive Player of the Year
Will Cherry, Montana

… Continue Reading

What Was The Reason Behind Cleveland State’s Five Game Losing Streak?

by - Published February 26, 2012 in Conference Notes

Why did the Cleveland State Vikings recently have a five game losing streak?

It’s simple–whenever a team loses their most valuable player, they’re going to suffer.

The Cleveland State Vikings have had their fair share of above-average talent on the roster over the past few years. Cedric Jackson played briefly for multiple teams in the NBA and is currently playing overseas. Both J’Nathan Bullock and George Tandy have also played overseas. Norris Cole, the best known Viking alum, was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft and is currently a major contributor for the Miami Heat. Some of the Vikings’ talented freshmen such as Anton Grady and Marlin Mason also have the potential to play professionally after their careers at Cleveland State have been completed.

However, a strong case could be made for the claim that the Vikings’ most valuable player over the past few years is senior D’Aundray Brown.

Brown’s contributions on the court and importance to the Vikings often go unnoticed to fans because he is not a prolific scorer or flashy player in general. Nevertheless, Brown’s intense defense, leadership on the court, and constant hustle have helped propel the Vikings into the victory column on countless occasions. The Vikings’ press—which is the key to their success—operates much more effectively when Brown, who is among the NCAA leaders in steals, is on the court.

Unfortunately, Brown’s promising career at Cleveland State has been derailed multiple times over the past few seasons because of injuries. During each of his absences, the Vikings’ performance on the court has declined dramatically.

In the 2009-2010 season, Brown suffered an eye injury that caused him to miss the Vikings’ final game in the Horizon League Tournament. The Vikings lost by seven points to a Milwaukee Panthers team who rode a great shooting performance into the tournament semifinals. Brown’s defensive intensity could have easily made a difference in that game.

Brown missed the entire 2010-2011 season with a wrist injury. The effects of Brown’s injury were not seen at first, as the Vikings raced out to a 21-3 record. However, the Vikings’ bench failed to produce all season long, and the Vikings’ starters were forced to log major minutes for much of the season. The heavy minutes took their toll towards the end of the season, as the Vikings struggled down the stretch and lost four of their final seven regular-season games. These losses cost the Vikings the opportunity to host the Horizon League Tournament, and the Vikings ultimately lost to Butler in the tournament semifinals. Towards the end of the season, Vikings coach Gary Waters was quoted as saying that the Vikings would have won the Horizon League Tournament if Brown had been on the roster. Any Vikings fan who watched the exhausted Vikings towards the end of the season would easily agree with Waters’ statement.

This season, the Vikings sprinted out to yet another successful start to the season. With Brown fully healthy and contributing lockdown defense and hustle, the Vikings won several close games early in the season and defeated several quality opponents. Beginning the year with an upset of the nationally-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores, the Vikings appeared to be poised to win the regular season Horizon League Championship until Brown suffered a groin injury against the Loyola Ramblers.

Brown’s injury sent the Vikings into a tailspin that nearly derailed their season. The Vikings lost five straight games, including two blowout losses to the Valparaiso Crusaders and Drexel Dragons, and were in major danger of falling to third place in the Horizon League and losing the opportunity to receive an automatic spot in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament. Without Brown, the Vikings looked nothing like the intense, focused, and crisp team that had dominated many of their previous opponents and effortlessly won buzzer-beater games. The Vikings looked lost on offense, were unable to impose their turnover-producing defensive pressure on opponents, and played nothing like the team that had dominated opponents earlier in the season. Fortunately for the Vikings and their fans, the Vikings righted their ship and managed to secure the second seed in the Horizon League Tournament after they won their two final conference games without Brown and were aided by a crucial Valparaiso win over the Butler Bulldogs.

Sure, other Vikings have put up more stats and make more headlines. However, when the impact on the play and record of the Vikings is taken into consideration, Brown’s enormous impact on the Vikings cannot be disputed. If one defines Most Valuable Player as the player who has the biggest impact on his team’s fortunes, Brown surely must be mentioned in the conversation for the Vikings’ most valuable player.

Cleveland State Vikings Use Solid Contributions By Freshmen To Defeat Detroit Titans, 77-64

by - Published February 24, 2012 in Conference Notes

The Cleveland State Vikings and Detroit Titans squared off on Thursday evening at the Wolstein Center in a matchup with major ramifications for seeding in the Horizon League Tournament. Both the Vikings and the Titans headed into Thursday’s matchup riding drastically different five-game streaks. Picked by many preseason analysts to win the Horizon League, the Titans have recently begun to live up to their lofty preseason expectations and came to Cleveland with a five-game winning streak. In contrast, the Vikings limped into Thursday’s game looking to shake a five-game losing streak that has been the result of a groin injury to talented senior D’Aundray Brown and the Vikings’ inability to adjust without their best defender in the starting lineup.

Many of the Vikings’ recent losses have come from their inability to score points in the first half. After the Vikings fell behind by a score of 14-4 with slightly more than 13 minutes left in the first half, the Wolstein Center crowd became somewhat nervous as they understandably began to worry that the Vikings were in the process of yet again falling behind by a sizable deficit that could not be overcome in the second half. Sensing the urgency of the situation, the Vikings rallied to narrow the Titans’ lead to three points with slightly less than six minutes left in the first half. The Titans fought back and expanded their lead to nine points towards the end of the first half. Unlike in previous games, though, the Vikings refused to give in. Following a Vikings timeout with approximately one minute remaining, freshman Ike Nwamu drained a 3-pointer that cut the Titans’ lead to six points and brought the Wolstein Center crowd to their feet despite the fact that the Titans headed into the locker room with a 38-32 lead.

In the second half, the Vikings played the style of basketball that propelled them to the top of the Horizon League standings earlier in the season and wore out the Titans. The Vikings’ relentless pressure defense and hustle limited the Titans to 21.7% shooting in the second half. Surprisingly, the Titans did not exploit the fact that the Vikings’ key big men—freshman Anton Grady and senior Aaron Pogue—were in foul trouble during the second half. Eli Holman, the Titans’ talented senior center who possesses NBA-level talent, only finished with six points. On offense, the Vikings shed their recent pattern of relying on jump shots and instead patiently worked the ball around and frequently wound up with easy baskets near the basket.

After initially retaking a one-point lead with 11 minutes left on another Nwamu 3-pointer, the Vikings briefly lost the lead before retaking it for good with 7:22 left in the game. The Vikings proceeded to steadily extend their lead and ultimately won the game by a score of 77-64. With their win, the Vikings snapped the five-game losing streak that had threatened to sink the team’s chances of postseason success.

As previously mentioned, the loss of Brown has been an immense blow for the Vikings and the Vikings have struggled to replace his defense and rebounding. Tonight, the young core who will lead the Vikings next season and beyond—Grady, Charlie Lee, Marlin Mason, and Nwamu—delivered down the stretch and played some of their best basketball of the season. In fact, some of the Vikings’ best play of the game occurred when the Vikings had three freshmen on the floor. Lee’s final stat line of 12 points and 5 assists does not reflect the major impact that he had on this game, as he ran the Vikings’ offense for much of the game and did not turn the ball over while dealing with the Titans’ full-court pressure. In his second career start, Mason—who was initially slated to redshirt this season and who was pressed into action only because of an injury to Sebastian Douglas—nearly ripped off a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 9 boards. Nwamu’s 8 points, two of which came on 3-pointers, all came at key moments in the game. Although Grady was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, many of his 8 rebounds were pulled down while the Vikings were battling back into the game.

The Titans’ Chase Simon led all scorers with 17 points. Trevon Harmon led the Vikings with 16 points. Every Vikings player who played in Thursday’s game scored, providing the Vikings with a balanced attack that had been missing in recent games.

With a win on Saturday against the Wright State Raiders, the Vikings can finish no lower than third in the Horizon League standings. If the Butler Bulldogs lose to the Valparaiso Crusaders on Friday evening, the Vikings can clinch the second seed in the Horizon League Tournament with a win on Saturday. Vikings fans should be prepared for their fair share of scoreboard watching and nailbiting as the final few games of yet another hotly contested Horizon League campaign play out and last-minute jockeying for tournament seeding ensues!

Much Is At Stake In The Final Week Of Horizon League Play

by - Published February 21, 2012 in Conference Notes

The last week of conference play has arrived in the Horizon League. Over the past few years, the battle for the top seeds in the Horizon League has not been decided until the final game of conference play. This year is no exception, with multiple teams having a legitimate chance of securing one of the two top seeds in the Horizon League Tournament and the extremely important double-bye that gives the two top seeds an automatic spot in the semifinals.

The Valparaiso Crusaders currently sit at the top of the Horizon League with a 12-4 record in conference play, over two games ahead of the second place Cleveland State Vikings. A win tonight over the Loyola Ramblers will allow the Crusaders to clinch at least a share of the school’s first-ever Horizon League regular season championship and allow the Crusaders to host the Horizon League Tournament. The Crusaders will battle the Butler Bulldogs to end the season in a game that has major ramifications for the Bulldogs’ seeding in the Horizon League Tournament.

The Cleveland State Vikings are in second place with a record of 10-5 in Horizon League play. Currently in the midst of a four game losing streak, the Vikings are only one half-game ahead of the Detroit Titans and Butler Bulldogs. The Vikings will square off tonight against the Green Bay Phoenix and return home for two games against the Detroit Titans and Wright State Raiders. Coach Gary Waters has struggled to replace the contributions of the injured D’Aundray Brown, who has missed multiple games with a groin injury. The Vikings will need to win each of their last three games in order to maintain their grip on second place.

The Detroit Titans and Butler Bulldogs both possess conference records of 10-6 and are battling for third place. Butler is playing the UIC Flames this evening and will end the year with a contest against Valparaiso. Detroit will travel to Ohio for two road games against Cleveland State and the Youngstown State Penguins. Both teams have recovered from rough starts to the season and currently possess major winning streaks. Even if neither of these teams secures a double bye in the Horizon League Tournament, both of these teams could easily win four more consecutive games in the Horizon League Tournament in order to secure the Horizon League’s automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Milwaukee Panthers and Youngstown State Penguins are currently battling for fifth place. Sporting conference records of 9-7, both the Panthers and Penguins will seek to keep the seventh-place Green Bay Phoenix at bay in order to have the opportunity to host a game in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament. Both the Panthers and the Penguins had solid starts to the season, and they could easily surprise an unsuspecting team in the Horizon League Tournament and send a higher seed home far earlier than expected.

The Wright State Raiders currently sit in eighth place with a conference record of 7-9. Although most teams would be displeased with this spot in the standings, their performance this season has been a pleasant surprise given that the Raiders are an extremely young team.

The UIC Flames are in ninth place, and the Loyola Ramblers are in tenth place. Despite their low standing in the conference, the Ramblers’ talented tandem of Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler can pose problems for any team in the Horizon League.

Needless to say, the last week of Horizon League play will be as hard-fought and as intense as the past few months of action, and fans should enjoy the great week of action that lies ahead!

Cleveland State Loses To Drexel Dragons 69-49 In ESPN BracketBusters Matchup

by - Published February 18, 2012 in Conference Notes

The Cleveland State Vikings and Drexel Dragons squared off on Saturday morning at the Wolstein Center as part of ESPN’s BracketBusters series. Saturday’s contest marks the second straight year in which the Vikings have participated in the BracketBusters series. Last season, the Vikings dropped a hard-fought contest to Old Dominion on the road in which the now-departed Norris Cole set a new BracketBusters record for points scored when he dropped 35 points on the Monarchs.

The Vikings took the floor on Saturday morning looking to shake a three game losing streak, having lost three straight games against some of the toughest teams in the Horizon League—the Valparaiso Crusaders, Butler Bulldogs, and Milwaukee Panthers. In contrast, the Dragons headed into Saturday’s contest with a 14 game winning streak.

In an attempt to reverse the Vikings’ recent struggles and cope with the loss of senior D’Aundray Brown, who has been described by Vikings coach Gary Waters as the team’s best player, Waters replaced freshman Anton Grady in the starting lineup with Marlin Mason, another talented freshman. This move should not be viewed as a statement about the play immensely talented Grady, but rather as an attempt by the Vikings to slow down the Dragons’ three-guard attack and to provide the Vikings with more offensive firepower off the bench.

Unfortunately, this move did not work. Saturday morning is quickly proving to be no friend to the Vikings, who struggled from the outset for the second straight week in a nationally televised Saturday morning game. The Dragons stormed out to a 19-3 lead with slightly more than 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Damion Lee’s nine points helped the Dragons silence the Wolstein Center crowd.

The Vikings’ tenacious defense allowed them to claw back into the game and cut the Dragons’ lead to 8 points with approximately six minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Dragons responded with a 15-7 run to end the first half that allowed them to head into the locker room with a commanding 38-22 lead.

Lee and the Vikings’ Trevon Harmon led their teams with 13 points in the first half. No other player for the Vikings scored more than four points, who only had four players enter the scoring column during the first 20 minutes of play.

The Dragons came out breathing fire in the second half, using a dazzling display of outside shooting to rip off a 13-5 run and take a 51-27 lead in the first five minutes of the second half. The Dragons’ lead steadily grew throughout the second half, and the Vikings were down by as many as 29 points.

Despite the deficit, the Vikings refused to quit, and they used an 18-9 run to cut the Dragons’ lead to 20 points by the end of the game. Nevertheless, the Vikings lost by a score of 69-49. Saturday’s loss marked the Vikings’ fourth straight loss and their third loss in a row at home.

However, Vikings fans who are feeling uneasy about the team’s postseason chances should not panic. In his postgame comments, Waters still sounded optimistic about the Vikings’ chances for the rest of the regular season. Waters stated that the Vikings will “keep fighting until we get it right” and expressed the belief that the Vikings will be in good shape once they are able to restore the high-pressure defense that helped them race out to a successful start to the season.

The Vikings will travel to for a Tuesday evening matchup with the Green Bay Phoenix in what should be another intense Horizon League conference game. The Vikings will need to approach each of their last three remaining games with the intensity of a postseason matchup if they intend to maintain their tenuous hold on second place in the Horizon League standings and secure an automatic spot in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament.

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