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Wichita State latest top seed to sidestep danger in MVC quarters

by - Published March 5, 2016 in Columns, Conference Notes
wichitastate

At the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, it’s the tradition unlike any other: the winner of the first round game between the eighth and ninth seeds annually goes on to be a real pest to top seeds in the quarterfinals.

Arch Madness is not designed with teams seeded eighth or ninth in mind. Every year, the winner of the tourney’s first game at 6 p.m. Central time on a Thursday gets a miniscule amount of time to recover, playing at noon the next day, and against the event’s top seed.
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How the conferences shape up as 2016 approaches

by - Published December 29, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
author_kasiecki

Not only are we in the midst of the holidays, but conference play beckons if it hasn’t already started. Non-conference play is almost complete, and teams form impressions during this time of how they will be in conference play. Even so, as is always the case this is imperfect. Conference play is a different animal, as teams are more familiar with each other from having played each other every year. That’s why we see some teams even in mid-majors get nice wins in non-conference play, but then lose games in conference play that strike the untrained eye as head-scratchers.

It is with that in mind that we take a look at how all 31 conferences shape up based on non-conference play thus far.

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2015-16 CAA Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

In a conference that has seen lots of changes recently, the CAA got news of one more big one this past off-season. Tom Yeager, the only commissioner the conference has known, will retire at the end of the academic year. There is a time and place for reflection on what he has built, along with his place as a well-respected influencer in college basketball, and that will come. A more pressing question is: what kind of conference will he leave behind?

An unfortunate part of his legacy will be that the CAA was hit hard by conference realignment more than once, and that can’t be pinned on him. The first time, just after the new century, put the conference in danger, but it survived and subsequently thrived after adding strong members from another conference. More recently, however, the conference was among the hardest hit, watching signature programs George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU leave along with Georgia State, who had just turned a corner after an otherwise uninspiring tenure in the conference. Two of those four left to play Division I-A football.

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College of Charleston Cougars 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (9-24 overall, 3-15 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Canyon Barry
So. G Cameron Johnson
Jr. G Payton Hulsey
So. F Donovan Gilmore
Sr. F James Bourne

Important departures:

G Anthony Stitt and F Adjehi Baru are starters who are gone from last season’s team. They will also be without G Joe Chealey, who will redshirt due to a leg injury sustained in practice.

Returning:

52 percent of scoring and 47.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Jarrell Brantley
Sr. F James Bourne (transfer from Winthrop)
Jr. G Payton Hulsey (junior college transfer)
Fr. G Marquise Pointer
Fr. G Grant Riller

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference schedule is a little more manageable than in past seasons, but still has some challenges. Six homes games are included, with Big South defending champion Coastal Carolina, LSU and East Carolina being the most noteworthy opponents. They go on the road to play Davidson and Miami. CAA play has a tough start with three of the first four games on the road, though they later have a stretch with five of six at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year was a tough transition year as Earl Grant took over in September. They won a game in the CAA Tournament, so they finished well. Now, they have a group with new players all over the floor, and Grant has indicated there will be plenty of competition for minutes and roles. That should only intensify with Chealey lost for the season due to injury, which likely means either Hulsey or Pointer gets the nod; don’t be surprised if it’s Pointer as he can play and was well-tested in high school. Gilmore showed some promise last season, while O’Donhue had 14 rebounds in their CAA Tournament win and Bourne should boost them right away as their most experienced player up front. Brantley should get every opportunity to play as well. Barry is the one guy this team can definitely hang their hat on, and Johnson should start alongside him again. The Cougars were one of the best defensive teams in the conference last season, and they’ll need to repeat that this season since they lost three of their top four scorers from last season if you include Chealey. They should be competitive, but are probably a year away from contending, especially since Chealey’s absence will mean younger players get more of an opportunity to grow now than they would have otherwise.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

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Delaware Blue Hens 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
delaware

Delaware Blue Hens (10-20 overall, 9-9 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Kory Holden
Jr. G Cazmon Hayes
So. G-F Chivarsky Corbett
Jr. F Maurice Jeffers
Sr. F Marvin King-Davis

Important departures:

G Kyle Anderson, the team’s leading scorer, is the only key departure from last season’s team.

Returning:

83.2 percent of scoring and 91.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Curtis Lochner

Schedule Highlights:

The Blue Hens will be on the road a lot, as just three home games are on their non-conference slate. Two of them should be good challenges, as Bradley and South Florida come to Newark, with Fairleigh Dickinson being the other. The road portion features Iona, Temple, Ivy League contender Columbia, Boston College, Villanova and defending MAC champion Buffalo. Conference play begins with an early indication of just how good this team can be, although it features four of five at home right after they open at Hofstra. James Madison comes to town, then they go to Northeastern, who they host only nine days after playing in Boston in bit of a scheduling oddity. They also have a three-game road stretch matched by a three-game homestand later on.

Projected finish and outlook:

Delaware will be one of the more interesting teams to watch this season. They return almost everyone, though the one starter who is gone was their leading scorer last season. However, it’s almost the same team otherwise, including almost nothing in the way of additions due to Monte Ross’ contract situation last year. Now that Ross is back on campus, though, the Blue Hens can try to pick up where they left off last season, growing up during CAA play after a rough start. Holden needs to take the next step now, as he was right there in a tight Rookie of the Year race, while Hayes and Corbett will flank him. Hayes made a nice improvement last season, while Corbett was quietly one of the CAA’s best freshmen. Jeffers showed the potential to be a double-double guy at times last season, especially at the end as he finished strong. King-Davis will never make a highlight reel but is a solid presence alongside him. Devonne Pinkard and Barnett Harris, the latter of whom is the ultimate energy guy, give them some depth up front. But that’s also the concern for this team overall, although their practices will be plenty competitive as they have two transfers sitting out this season. The Blue Hens will likely go as far as their starting perimeter players can take them. It’s still a relatively young team, and feels like one that may be a year away from contending for the top spot.

Next: Drexel Dragons

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Drexel Dragons 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
drexel

Drexel Dragons (11-19 overall, 9-9 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Major Canady (redshirted)
So. G Rashann London
Sr. G-F Tavon Allen
Jr. F Rodney Williams
Jr. F Mohamed Bah

Important departures:

G Damion Lee is the big starter lost from last season.

Returning:

57.4 percent of scoring and 76.4 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Terrell Allen
So. G Ahmad Fields (transfer from Utah)
Sr. F Chandler Fraser-Pauls (transfer from Lafayette)

Schedule Highlights:

A pretty good non-conference schedule includes four home games, including a visit from Penn State to the Palestra. They also get Big South contender High Point, MAAC contender Monmouth and nearby rival Penn. They open at Saint Joseph’s, will be in the Great Alaska Shootout, and also travel to South Carolina and Iona. CAA play features several home and road stretches, notably four straight at home followed by four of five on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

Drexel has finished .500 or better in CAA play the last seven seasons, making that appear to be one more certainty in life. However, they will be seriously challenged to continue that streak this season, as the transfer of Damion Lee really hurts. The upshot is that last season’s team was racked with injuries, meaning a number of players got to play more and with bigger roles than they would have otherwise, and it’s possible the Dragons reap the benefits of that this season. Canady was one of those players who got hurt, having redshirted due to an early injury, and along with Terrell Allen he should stabilize the point guard spot after Rashann London admirably filled in but had more turnovers than assists. Aside from that, there will be heavy competition between Fields and sophomores London and Sammy Mojica, while Tavon Allen could occasionally slide over to shooting guard in a big lineup. Williams has always had potential, while Bah was a solid starter last season and Kazembe Abif, who has had a rough career that included an ACL injury last year, returns and will help. The Dragons will grind teams out, as that’s what they do, and they took great care of the ball last season. But they could struggle to score, and as good as Bruiser Flint’s teams tend to be defensively, a team has to score to win, and that’s always the wild card with the Dragons. A lot likely hinges on how well Canady and Terrell Allen settle the point and let others do their jobs more easily.

Next: Elon Phoenix

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Elon Phoenix 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
elon

Elon Phoenix (15-18 overall, 6-12 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Luke Eddy
Sr. G Tanner Samson
So. G Dmitri Thompson
Jr. F Christian Hairston
Sr. F Tony Sabato

Important departures:

Starters G Austin Hamilton, G Kevin Blake and F Ryan Winters graduated. The big blow, and one that was unexpected, was G Elijah Bryant transferring to Brigham Young.

Returning:

51.3 percent of scoring and 60.4 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Sheldon Eberhardt
Fr. C Karolis Kundrotas
Fr. G Steven Santa Ana
Fr. F Tyler Seibring
Fr. G Dainan Swoope

Schedule Highlights:

Elon’s non-conference slate is a rarity for a mid-major – it has seven home games, which is a majority of their non-conference games. Two come as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland, while they also host UNCG. Notable road trips are to Michigan, Syracuse (both part of the Battle 4 Atlantis) and Duke. The conference schedule starts out with a big test: four of the first five on the road, including Northeastern in the opener and Hofstra later, with a visit from James Madison as the only home game in the stretch. That is followed by four of five at home, and they close the regular season with three of four at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Elon had a tough inaugural season in the CAA thanks to injuries, and they enter their second season with some different questions. Hamilton and Blake are significant losses, as is Bryant, who transferred late in the spring after narrowly winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award. On the bright side, they get Eddy back after an injury ended his season early, while Samson is a steady guard and Thompson showed promise last season. Sabato should anchor the post, and Hairston is the most experienced player who could complement him, but don’t be surprised if someone else grabs that spot. Brian Dawkins comes back from injury, while Seibring and Kundrotas could get minutes. Swoope could get a lot of minutes at the point and should be the floor leader of the future. While Bryant was talented, he wasn’t the most efficient offensive player, so while his loss is not trivial, it may not be a crippling loss. Indeed, the Phoenix have enough talent to make a lot of lemonade out of the lemon Bryant’s transfer gave them.

Next: Hofstra Pride

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Hofstra Pride 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
hofstra

Hofstra Pride (20-14 overall, 10-8 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Juan’ya Green
Jr. G Brian Bernardi
Sr. F Ameen Tanksley
Sr. F Denton Koon
Sr. F Malik Nichols

Important departures:

G Dion Nesmith and F Moussa Kone are the key departures from last season’s team.

Returning:

76.1 percent of scoring and 79.1 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Desure Buie
Sr. F-C Ibrahim Djanbo (transfer from Clemson)
Sr. F Denton Koon (transfer from Princeton)
Fr. G Justin Wright-Foreman

Schedule Highlights:

The Pride’s non-conference schedule isn’t bad, but it’s not loaded with chances for quality wins to increase an NCAA Tournament profile. They have four home games, headlined by a visit from America East contender Stony Brook. They play in the Paradise Jam, opening with Florida State, then have trips to St. Bonaventure, La Salle and Siena. In CAA play, they open at Delaware, then get three straight at home against teams picked in the lower half of the conference, so they could get some early momentum going. In February, they have a big three-game homestand with visits from James Madison, William & Mary and Delaware.

Projected finish and outlook:

As soon as Joe Mihalich took the job and transfers started pouring in, this season was what they were especially gearing up for. The Pride have the team to beat with their star power, experience and depth, especially with the additions of Djanbo and Koon up front to complement the best perimeter unit in the conference. Green and Tanksley are two of the conference’s best players and have played together for years. Bernardi was deadly behind the arc last season and should be once again, and Koon should help as a glue guy. Indicative of how deep they are is that it’s easy to forget the presence of Jamall Robinson, an All-Rookie selection two years ago, but he’s very capable off the bench and has played a key role in the past. The Pride led the conference in scoring last season, and there’s every reason to expect a repeat of that with so much of the personnel returning. They’ll need to maintain their level of play a bit longer, as they were hot coming into CAA play and started 4-0 before cooling off after losing an early showdown at Northeastern. Hofstra lost a heart-breaker in the CAA Tournament semifinals last season, a game for the ages. This year there’s every reason to expect they’ll get a little further and win it all.

Next: James Madison Dukes

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James Madison Dukes 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
jamesmadison

James Madison Dukes (19-14 overall, 12-6 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Ron Curry
Sr. G Winston Grays
Jr. G Jackson Kent
Jr. F Yohanny Dalembert
Jr. F Tom Vodanovich

Important departures:

No starters are gone from last season’s team, and the only player of any consequence who doesn’t return is F Hari Hall.

Returning:

89.9 percent of scoring and 92.3 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. F Shakir Brown
Fr. G Kevin Kangni
Jr. G Devontae Morgan (transfer from Butler)

Schedule Highlights:

An impressive nine home games highlight the non-conference schedule, including five straight to close out non-conference play. They host the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic, with four games, then later host the likes of Western Michigan, Marshall, East Carolina and Northeast contender Mount St. Mary’s. They open the season at Richmond, play West Virginia in Charleston, WV, and also travel to Marshall. CAA play starts with a chance for some early momentum: three of the first four are at home, and all of the home games are against teams that will be picked in the bottom half of the conference. Right after that is a big weekend: a road trip to Northeastern and Hofstra.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Dukes appeared to be a year away last season, but were part of a four-way tie for first and now return almost everyone. No team in the conference returns as much statistically, with the inside-outside tandem of Curry and Dalembert leading the way. The latter’s development was a key, as it wasn’t a given he would make the big steps forward he did as a sophomore. Grays and Kent complement Curry well, while Vodanovich leads a front line with some depth and lineup options that include juniors Dimitrije Cabarkapa and Paulius Satkus. Curry and Kent were second and third, respectively, in three-point field goal percentage last season, so that figures to be a strong point for this team. The Dukes were not great or terrible in any one area last season, but they did have more turnovers than assists. Improvement there wouldn’t hurt their attempt to get a little further this season.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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Northeastern Huskies 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
northeastern

Northeastern Huskies (23-12 overall, 12-6 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G T.J. Williams
Sr. G David Walker
Sr. G-F Zach Stahl
Sr. F Quincy Ford
Fr. F-C Anthony Green

Important departures:

F Scott Eatherton is the only starter from last season who has departed, although the Huskies will also miss F Reggie Spencer, who also graduated.

Returning:

70.6 percent of scoring and 72.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Sajon Ford
Fr. F-C Anthony Green
Fr. G Donnell Gresham Jr.
Fr. G Brandom Kamga
Fr. F-C Jeremy Miller

Schedule Highlights:

The Huskies’ non-conference schedule is once again a challenge, and features five home games. While they have one against Division III neighbor Wentworth, the other four are all tough ones: Harvard, Stony Brook, Michigan State and Vermont, the last three right in a row before Christmas. They open at arch-rival Boston University, play three at Miami (Ohio) in the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic, and head south to play ACC foes Miami and NC State. CAA play starts off with a tough stretch: three of four on the road, and they play more of the teams picked near the top early than late. From late January into mid-February, they play six of eight at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Though the Huskies lose a key player in Eatherton, Bill Coen’s team welcomes back just about everyone else and has a strong recruiting class that will keep them right in contention. Quincy Ford looked more like the player many thought he would be late last season, especially in the CAA Tournament, and he should be primed for a big year. Walker became more aggressive last year while remaining fundamentally the same intelligent, tough player, while Williams had a nice year and Stahl is a unique player that fits this team so well. The freshmen up front will get a chance to play, especially if redshirt junior Kwesi Abakah isn’t ready to jump into a bigger role, and all are capable of helping this team. Devon Begley and Caleb Donnelly will help off the bench, with the former at times making a nice impact as a freshman last year while the latter can be a designated shooter. The biggest knock on last season’s team was that they led the CAA in turnovers, something they won’t want to repeat this year. They led the conference in field goal percentage to make up for it.

Next: Towson Tigers

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