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The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 14, 2015

by - Published March 14, 2015 in The Morning Dish

March is always a magical month, where so many things happen that seemingly defy logical explanation. The way games end falls into that category as much as anything else, and Friday showed that again.

We start in Brooklyn at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, where Davidson trailed for most of the game, but rallied. Still down by one, they had a play in the final seconds to win it, and Tyler Kalinoski put it up near the basket and got it to drop as time expired. Ray Floriani has more on this.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, January 6, 2015

by - Published January 6, 2015 in The Morning Dish

While they are fun to follow-and yes, they do matter to some extent, even if not necessarily for NCAA Tournament selection-normally we won’t make much note of the release of the weekly top 25 polls on Monday, but this week is an exception.

Old Dominion jumped into the Associated Press Top 25 yesterday for the first time in school history. This was notable for one because it was surprising that ODU has never been in the AP poll before given some of its excellent teams in the past, dating all the way back to some very good years in the then-powerful Sun Belt in the 1980s.

More pertinent to today, it is worth noticing because of what a job Jeff Jones has done in just two years with the program. The Monarchs were a disaster in 2012-13, finishing 5-25 with the departure of head coach Blaine Taylor during the season. The program wasn’t as bad as that overall-Old Dominion lost at the buzzer to eventual national runner-up Butler in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament-but it still wasn’t good.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, November 11, 2014

by - Published November 11, 2014 in The Morning Dish

On this Veteran’s Day, looking ahead at a couple more conferences as the season is now just three days away:

The Northeast Conference is wide open, with a number of teams sustaining significant player losses. When in doubt, go with Robert Morris, the most consistent program over the last five years. The Colonials have built some toughness, as evidenced by NIT wins over Kentucky and St. John’s the last two years.

Murray State featured maybe the best-kept freshman secret in the country last year in Cameron Payne, a brilliant talent helped Murray State get back near the top of the Ohio Valley. The Racers return Payne and three other starters and are the league favorites, though Steve Prohm’s club will be challenged by fast-improving Morehead State and always tough Belmont.

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2013-14 SWAC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 30, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

It has been some time since the Southwestern Athletic Conference has had a true heavyweight program, but Southern University may be on the verge of changing that.

Not since Davey Whitney won three regular season titles in four years from 1999-2002 in the second stint of his brilliant career at Alcorn State has the SWAC had a consistent year-in, year-out team to beat. Under coach Roman Banks, though, Southern has won a SWAC tourney title and a regular season title in the last two years. The latter came this season, when the Jaguars won the league by three games despite returning just two starters from the team that nearly shocked Gonzaga in the round of 64 in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
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North Carolina-Kentucky lives up to the hype

by - Published December 4, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The matchup between North Carolina and Kentucky lived up to its billing. It was a well-played game that came right down to the wire, and was close throughout. The eighth-largest crowd in Rupp Arena history saw it, and even more watched on television. And it’s possible that the game will mirror the teams’ seasons.

Kentucky probably has the most talent of any team in the country, but the Wildcats’ youth hasn’t been hard to see. Their freshmen have had their share of growing pains, from Marquis Teague’s early struggles taking care of the ball to Anthony Davis learning how physical the college game can be. It’s for exactly that reason that senior Darius Miller has never been more valuable than much of the early going this time around.

North Carolina is right up there with the Wildcats, but this is an older and more mature team. Whereas the Wildcats start three freshmen, the Tar Heels only played two freshmen yesterday and both came off the bench. But they start a senior, two juniors and two sophomores, and on the whole this is a team quite a ways from its ceiling just like Kentucky.

In the first half, North Carolina led by as many as nine and was the better team. They were hot from long range, going 6-9 from behind the arc in the opening frame. But Kentucky scored seven in a row at the end of the first and start of the second half, momentarily grabbing the lead and then staying right with the Tar Heels until they took the lead for good on a Davis jumper with less than eight minutes to play.

The Tar Heels had one more chance after Teague missed the front end of a one-and-one with 21 seconds left. They got the ball to John Henson, known more for his shot-blocking than scoring, and in a length-versus-length matchup, Davis got a hand on his short jumper and the Wildcats were able to run out the final seconds for a 73-72 victory.

It’s a game that many would love to see a rematch of, and considering that both teams are a ways from their respective ceilings, no one would be surprised if it materialized in the month of March.

While that was the best matchup of the day, there were a few other teams, conferences and player of note.



Winning at the Kohl Center is hard for visiting teams to do, but Marquette pulled it off on Saturday and did so without their starting point guard. Before the game, the Golden Eagles announced that Junior Cadougan was suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules. Wisconsin has lost two straight, but neither is a bad loss as they lost to North Carolina earlier in the week. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, are 7-0 with a blowout win over Ole Miss and Saturday’s win at Wisconsin.



Xavier is becoming quite the second-half team. On Monday, they trailed by ten in the second half before rallying to beat Vanderbilt in overtime in Nashville. But yesterday they did themselves one better, as they trailed Purdue by 11 at the half and 19 in the second half before coming back to edge the Boilermakers 66-63. In the last 10:44, Xavier outscored Purdue 30-8.



It seems like Bruce Weber has been on the hot seat forever in Champaign, but let’s acknowledge not only the job he has done thus far but especially what he is doing this season. After an 82-75 win over Gonzaga on Saturday, the Illini are 8-0 with wins over Richmond and at Maryland as well. Neither of those two is a big NCAA Tournament resume win, but they are worth noting because the Illini haven’t beaten up on a slew of terrible teams and could be 12-0 when they take on Missouri on Dec. 22, though they will have to get by UNLV at home before then. Saturday was the first time all season Gonzaga did not have at least four players score in double figures.


Brigham Young

No Jimmer, no problem for Brigham Young. After Saturday’s 79-65 win over Oregon in Salt Lake City, BYU is 6-2 with a win over Nevada included and the only losses being at Utah State and against Wisconsin. Granted, this isn’t the Oregon team we all thought we would see before the season with the departures of Jabari Brown and Bruce Barron, but the Ducks aren’t pushovers.


Head-scratching in the CAA

A number of conferences have their opening games this weekend before teams resume non-conference play for a little while longer. Perhaps none has had results that might leave one scratching their head as much as the Colonial Athletic Association, where three teams won on the road and preseason favorite Drexel lost to Delaware by 11 (albeit on the road). The Dragons have had a rough go of it thus far, but Chris Fouch is back so they’re closer to having their full team together. Still, Fouch was 0-9 yesterday and the Blue Hens won the battle on the glass by a 40-32 margin over a Drexel team that routinely beats up opponents on the boards.

The one other score that jumps out is Georgia State thumping William & Mary 66-34 in Atlanta. The Tribe didn’t look to be far from being a good team last season, but they’re struggling mightily out of the gates and Saturday may be the low point thus far.


We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

  • Ohio State didn’t miss a beat despite Jared Sullinger being out with back spasms.
  • College of Charleston lost a wealth of talent and experience from last season’s team, but the Cougars are 7-1 overall and are one of four teams that went 2-0 in early Southern Conference games this weekend. Chattanooga, who the Cougars beat last night and was picked to win the North Division, is 0-2.
  • Connecticut got a big lift from Ryan Boatright with 23 points and six assists in his home debut.
  • UCLA is now 2-5 after a home loss to Texas that saw them blow an 11-point lead.


Some of Sunday’s Key Matchups

Sunday is a day full of interesting matchups of teams that we’re trying to find out something about. None of these are like North Carolina-Kentucky, but they will be worth keeping an eye on.

  • Baylor at Northwestern
  • UNLV at Wichita State
  • California at San Diego State
  • Dayton at Murray State
  • North Carolina State at Stanford
  • Notre Dame at Maryland
  • VCU vs. George Washington (BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center)
  • Kansas State at Virginia Tech

College of Charleston Has Personnel, Intangibles For Success

by - Published November 14, 2010 in Columns

WORCESTER, Mass. – Bobby Cremins has been coaching long enough to have a good feel for a team. He’s had enough success to know what a good team looks like. So when he tells you he has a good team, you can believe him, especially if his team’s offensive showing in Saturday’ 93-84 win at Holy Cross isn’t convincing enough.

While Cremins and senior leader Andrew Goudeluck both talked about the team’s need to improve defensively – and indeed, they didn’t exactly put on a clinic there as Holy Cross shot 51.5 percent from the field – there was no concern about the offense. The Cougars shot 63.6 percent for the game, going 9-16 from long range (7-8 in the first half) and had five players score in double figures. They had 20 assists on 35 made field goals. … Continue Reading

Southern Preview

by - Published November 7, 2007 in Conference Notes

Southern Conference 2007-08 Preview

by Phil Kasiecki

The Southern Conference has been getting its share of national attention this off-season, and it has come largely because of one team that many have high expectations for. It’s safe to say that the prohibitive favorite this season is Bob McKillop’s team at Davidson.

There is good reason for the attention. With a young team consisting of eight freshmen and sophomores and just two seniors (both walk-ons), the Wildcats won a school-record 29 games last season and rolled to a 17-1 conference mark. They entered the season with just 30 collegiate starts between all of their players, with only one Division I school having fewer. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry raked in the accolades, and now is receiving many preseason ones in light of his terrific freshman year.

It’s safe to say that everyone else will be chasing the Wildcats this season, as they bring back every scholarship player. They have one of the best backcourts in the country, as Curry’s backcourt mate Jason Richards is also the conference’s top point guard and a good scorer and passer. There is good depth in the frontcourt, and McKillop is perhaps the most underrated coach in America.

While Davidson is getting plenty of exposure, the conference is also home to another star that isn’t well-known outside the local landscape. UNC Greensboro senior Kyle Hines was the conference’s Player of the Year last season and has gone from someone known primarily for blocking shots to a complete player who could average a double-double as a 20-10 player this season. With Davidson being the focus of the conference nationally, Hines may still fly under the radar while potentially leading his team to a North Division title.

Curry is also not the only sophomore who has already shown plenty of potential, which bodes well for the conference’s future. Western Carolina sophomore Nick Aldridge had a big freshman year last year and could have three classmates starting alongside him this season. Curry’s teammate, William Archambault, was a key reserve last season, and UNC Greensboro sophomore Kendall Toney shot the ball very well from long range last season.

No teams changed head coaches this past off-season, making it one of four conferences that could claim that. Helping that is the fact that a number of teams have changed coaches in the previous two off-seasons. There is some stability in the ranks, and that bodes as well as the young talent does for the conference as a whole.

Preseason Awards
Player of the Year:
Stephen Curry, Davidson
Top Newcomer: Antwaine Wiggins, College of Charleston
Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Hines, UNC Greensboro
Best NBA Prospect: Stephen Curry, Davidson

All-Southern Team
Nick Aldridge, So. F, Western Carolina
Stephen Curry, So. G, Davidson
Louis Graham, Sr. F, Georgia Southern
Kyle Hines, Sr. F, UNC Greensboro
Jason Richards, Sr. G, Davidson

North Division

UNC Greensboro Spartans (16-14, 12-6 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Dwayne Johnson (4.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.9 apg)
So. G Kendall Toney (6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Sr. G Kevin Oleksiak (6.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Sr. F Kyle Hines (20.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.4 spg)
So. F Ben Stywall (5.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: A December 1 date with Kent State is the highlight of three non-conference home games. The Spartans open the season at Georgia Tech, then play in the Missouri State Classic, while also traveling to play Virginia Tech and Atlantic 10 contender Fordham. In Southern Conference play, much of January is marked by a five-game road stretch, while they finish the regular season with three straight at home.
Outlook: Hines is arguably the best player in the conference, but might not repeat as Player of the Year depending on the team’s success. The Spartans lose their top outside scoring threat in Ricky Hickman, but there isn’t a shortage of candidates to move into the role of primary outside weapon. Toney and Oleksiak are joined by Mikko Koivisto among the options, with Toney likely to start full-time after starting just over half of last season’s games and shooting 43.5 percent on three-pointers. Three freshmen provide depth behind them and Johnson, the steady floor leader who might be asked to score more. Stywall joins Hines in the frontcourt and should continue to support him primarily with his rebounding, although it wouldn’t hurt if he scored more to take some attention off Hines. Little-used sophomore Pete Brown is the only veteran in the frontcourt, so additional depth will likely come from junior college transfer Michael Mitchell. Only two teams turned the ball over more last season, so taking better care of the ball is likely to be one priority this season.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (25-8, 15-3 Southern)
Projected Starters:

So. G Ryan Abraham (2.5 ppg, 1.1 apg)
So. G Kellen Brand (6.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg)
Sr. F Donte Minter (11.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 bpg)
Sr. F Jeremy Clayton (10.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.7 bpg, 1.2 spg)
Sr. C Davis Bowne (5.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Schedule Highlights: The Mountaineers have three home games in a challenging non-conference slate, highlighted by a visit from Wichita State and a BracketBusters game. Early on, they go to Middle Tennessee for three games in the First Shot Exempt Tournament. The toughest road games look to be at Arkansas and Atlantic Sun favorite East Tennessee State. When Southern play begins in earnest in January, they start with three straight on the road before coming home for three straight.
Outlook: The Mountaineers still have a good team, but their departures hit hard in that they come in the backcourt, leaving a pair of sophomores as likely starters there. At the very least, Abraham has good options to get the ball to in Brand, who showed some promise last season, and forwards Minter and Clayton. Minter could make a nice jump with his scoring numbers, while Clayton can do a little of everything inside and together they make a solid forward tandem as part of a unit that has good size. With that unit, they should improve on their positive rebounding margin last season. Freshmen Donald Sims and Donterious Hughes could each get significant minutes in the backcourt. The Mountaineers will be hard-pressed to lead the conference in scoring again, so improving defensively will be important to staying in contention.

Western Carolina Catamounts (11-20, 7-11 Southern)
Projected Starters:

So. G Brigham Waginger (3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 spg)
So. G Brandon Giles (6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Sr. F Arnold Gore (9.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.2 apg)
So. F Nick Aldridge (18.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.7 spg)
So. F Jake Robinson (8.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: A challenging non-conference schedule features four home games and opens with an in-season tournament. To start the season, the Catamounts travel to Cincinnati for the Peggy Cronin Classic, where they play Bowling Green, the host Bearcats and Atlantic Sun contender Belmont. In mid-December, they play at Indiana and Illinois two days apart, and close out 2007 with a trip to North Carolina State. When Southern Conference play begins in earnest, they start with three of four on the road, including the oddity of playing both games against Furman within a week.
Outlook: Larry Hunter has a young team with some potential that might be a year away from seriously contending, as the core of the team is the sophomore class. Aldridge and Robinson are already a solid forward combination, while Waginger and Giles have potential in the backcourt. Giles also gives the backcourt good size at 6’6″ and might move to the wing from time to time, though senior Negus McKenna is better suited to there than shooting guard. The frontcourt also gets more size with the recruiting class, as three of the four freshmen are 6’8″. The Catamounts had the best turnover margin in the conference last season in part from forcing over 16 turnovers per game, but when they didn’t do that opponents scored often. Only three teams in the conference allowed opponents to shoot better than the nearly 46 percent clip the Catamounts allowed.

Chattanooga Mocs (15-18, 6-12 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Kevin Bridgewaters (6.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
Jr. G Keyron Sheard (junior college transfer)
Jr. F Nicchaeus Doaks (10.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
Jr. F Khalil Hartwell (4.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Jr. C Qavotstaraj Waddell (junior college transfer)
Schedule Highlights: Six home games are on top in a non-conference schedule that features two in-season tournaments. Highlighting the home games are visits from Atlantic Sun favorite East Tennessee State and Tennessee, and they also host the Dr. Pepper Classic to close out 2007, where they could play Atlantic Sun contender Belmont. After playing at Indiana early on, they travel out west for three games in the Anaheim Classic, opening with Southern Illinois. In Southern Conference play, they close the regular season with five of six on the road.
Outlook: With just two seniors and seven juniors on the roster, the Mocs might be a year away from contention. Two of the juniors figure to start right away in Sheard, who could run the show from the outset, and junior college teammate Waddell, who adds more size to a front line that also includes 6’10” sophomore Matt Gwynne and 7’1″ redshirt freshman Jeremy Saffore. Doaks is one good forward, while Hartwell could be displaced from the starting lineup by one of the aforementioned big men. In the backcourt, another junior newcomer, South Carolina transfer Stephen McDowell, will figure into the mix and could eventually start. The Mocs held their own on the glass last season and should again this year with the size they have. The big area for improvement is taking care of the ball, as only one Southern Conference team turned the ball over more last season.

Elon Phoenix (7-23, 5-13 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Montell Watson (redshirt)
Jr. G Brett James (12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg)
So. G Devan Carter (5.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.6 apg)
Jr. F Ola Atoyebi (5.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
So. F Scott Grable (4.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Phoenix will play four non-conference home games, including a BracketBusters game. They open the season at Virginia Tech, then later head to Georgia, VCU, Penn and Virginia. In a scheduling oddity, they play four conference games before the new year, three of them at home. Starting in late January, they play five consecutive road games.
Outlook: The young Phoenix will have some growing pains this season with just two seniors and three juniors on the roster. Watson returns after a foot injury kept him out of last season, giving them an experienced floor leader to go with James, the top scoring option, and Carter, who looked promising last season. Senior Brian Waters and sophomore Jon Ogolo should also be in the mix. The frontcourt has two players in Atoyebi and Grable who should get better, with Grable being counted on to give them more after starting 11 games last season and seeing his minutes increase in conference play. Sophomore Adam Constantine should see good minutes up front as well, and freshman Daniel Watts adds more size with his seven-foot frame. This season is a building one for the Phoenix, and if Watson can help the younger guards and make the younger players on this team better, the season will be a step forward.

South Division

Davidson Wildcats (29-5, 17-1 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Jason Richards (13.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.5 spg)
So. G Stephen Curry (21.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg)
Jr. G Max Paulhus Gosselin (4.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg)
Sr. F Boris Meno (11.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 spg)
Sr. F Thomas Sander (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 spg)
Schedule Highlights: The non-conference schedule is one that fits a team like this, as it has plenty of challenges. Only three games are at home, with the big ones being on the road or at a neutral site. North Carolina and Duke come to Charlotte at Bobcats Arena, and they play UCLA at the John Wooden Classic. True road games of note are at MAC favorite Western Michigan, Charlotte, North Carolina State, and a BracketBusters game. Early in Southern Conference play, they play six of seven on the road.
Outlook: The Wildcats are getting plenty of attention, and deservedly so. With just about everyone back from last season’s 29-win team, expectations are sky high. Curry gets plenty of attention, but as one would expect of a team that won as much as they did, he has plenty of help. Richards is the best point guard in the conference as he can score and pass, while Gosselin is a solid role player who can hit from long range. Sophomore Bryant Barr is a sniper off the bench as well, in much the same way that classmate William Archambault is from the forward spot. Archambault plays behind solid seniors in Meno and Sander, who play well together and are solid at both ends of the floor. There is plenty of depth up front, with junior Andrew Lovedale and sophomore Stephen Rossiter joining Archambault off the bench. The Wildcats will be tough to beat, so the conference looks to be theirs for the taking and they will have a chance for wins that could earn them an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament should someone shock them in the conference tournament.

Georgia Southern Eagles (15-16, 7-11 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Dwayne Foreman (9.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.2 spg)
Sr. G Anthony Marshall (3.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
Sr. F Matt Fields (6.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Sr. F Louis Graham (14.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg)
Sr. C Ryan Hynes (2.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Eagles will play in two in-season tournaments as part of a non-conference schedule that has just three home games. Early on, they play in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, taking on UAB along the way. They close out 2007 in the Flint Hills Resources/Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi. Among their challenging road games are trips to Florida State and Florida, as well as a BracketBusters game.
Outlook: The Eagles could be a sleeper team, as they struggled out of the gate last year but could put five seniors starters on the floor year. It starts with the excellent inside-outside combo of Foreman, who was second in the conference in assists, and Graham, a solid inside force. Foreman should break into double figures, while Marshall and Fields will be counted on for more with the departure of Donte Gennie. Antoine Johnson could also nab the starting spot alongside Foreman on the perimeter, and there is some depth with freshman Willie Powers and Julian Allen leading a guard-oriented group of newcomers. Hynes is the incumbent in the middle after starting 17 games last season, but junior college transfer Trumaine Pearson and freshman Jared Collins should push him. The Eagles were second in the conference in field goal percentage defense and third in rebounding margin, so concerns aren’t big defensively, but although they were second in field goal percentage, they led the conference in turnovers. Taking better care of the ball could mean another winning season and contention again.

College of Charleston Cougars (22-11, 13-5 Southern)
Projected Starters:

So. G Tony White, Jr. (6.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg)
Jr. G Marcus Hammond (7.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Jr. F Jermaine Johnson (10.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Jr. F Dustin Scott (junior college transfer)
Fr. F Antwaine Wiggins
Schedule Highlights: The non-conference schedule has just three home games on tap, two of which come in the Cougar Classic at the end of December. Early on, they travel for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they begin with Arkansas and then play either Temple or Providence in the second of three games. Later trips include Atlantic 10 contender Fordham, Florida State and South Carolina.
Outlook: The Cougars have a new look this year, as Hammond, White, and Johnson have the most experience by far. Hammond has started before, so he needs White to make a smooth transition into the starting lineup. Freshmen Andrew Goudelock and Donavan Monroe should each get plenty of time early on. The frontcourt was stung by Josh Jackson’s transfer in the summer, making Johnson the only returning start. Much will be expected of Scott, while freshman Jeremy Simmons figures to at least provide rebounding and a defensive presence. Wiggins comes with a good reputation as well and could play right away, though he needs to get stronger. The Cougars were the best defensive team in the conference last year, and repeating that will be necessary with the offense they have lost.

Wofford Terriers (10-20, 5-13 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Drew Gibson (12.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.2 spg)
Sr. G Shane Nichols (15.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.8 apg)
Jr. G Matt Estep (5.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
Fr. F Noah Dahlman
Jr. F-C Tyler Whatley (7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Terriers’ non-conference slate is challenging, and it includes four home games, none of them against Division I teams. They open the season at Arkansas, then later go to Wisconsin and close out 2007 in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic, where they first play at Alabama and at Purdue before two games in Las Vegas. Southern Conference play will see an early test for them, as just over a week into January they start a stretch with Appalachian State and Davidson at home followed by three straight on the road. They also play three straight on the road in February before the regular season finale is at home.
Outlook: It’s safe to say that guards rule the Terriers, as they have no shortage of them and depth won’t be a problem, and they helped the team turn the ball over less than any other Southern team last season. The senior tandem of Gibson and Nichols makes this team go, with Gibson running the show and playing well at the other end of the floor. Estep could grab the third perimeter spot to give them a little more size, but don’t be surprised if sophomore Junior Salters starts often after he showed a lot of promise as a freshman. If they want even more size, they can go with 6’8″ sophomore Corey Godzinski, who started nine games last season, on the wing. Whatley is the only returning frontcourt player who played significant minutes, which means there will be plenty of opportunity for freshmen Dahlman, Drew Crowell and Terry Martin. The Terriers allowed the most points in the conference and were next-to-last in field goal percentage defense, so those are concerns, but with Whatley surrounded by inexperienced frontcourt players, it appears that rebounding will be the biggest concern as they were by far the worst team in that category last season.

Furman Paladins (15-16, 8-10 Southern)
Projected Starters:

So. G Tony Anderson (4.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Fr. G Bryson Barnes
Sr. F George Brozos (3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Jr. F Stanley Jones (5.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Jr. F Alex Opacic (6.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: Just two non-conference home games are on tap, both coming back-to-back in November. On tap for road games are trips to Clemson, Saint Louis, and two consecutive in-season tournaments. The first is the Gossner Foods Holiday Classic at Utah State, where they play Northern Arizona and either Utah or host Utah State, then they go to St. Mary’s for the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic against Big West contender Cal State Fullerton in the first game.
Outlook: The Paladins are starting over this season, as four starters are gone and several reserves have left as well. Anderson might have the best chance of staying in the starting lineup, as none of the holdovers have done much but Anderson has experience at the important point guard spot. Brozos is the only senior on a squad that has six freshmen, with Barnes having the best chance to start right away with his size at the point guard spot. This young group will be tested right away, as the non-conference schedule is not easy. By the end of the season, they should look a little different than they do at the beginning.

The Citadel Bulldogs (7-23, 4-14 Southern)
Projected Starters:

Jr. G Jonathan Brick (2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Jr. G Jon Heyland (junior college transfer)
Fr. G Andrew Gonzalez
Fr. F Matt Clark
Sr. F-C Demetrius Nelson (9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The non-conference schedule has six home games, highlighted by an early visit from USC and a New Year’s Eve visit from Ivy League contender Cornell. The Bulldogs will travel for games at South Carolina, another Ivy League contender in Penn, and Washington State at the Cougar Hardwood Classic in Seattle. Once Southern play begins in earnest in January, the Bulldogs get some home cooking, as seven of the first eight are at home, including five straight. They follow that with four straight on the road.
Outlook: The struggles continued for this program last season, and second-year head coach Ed Conroy is giving it a facelift in the form of ten newcomers. Seven of the newcomers signed early, indicating that this was a plan all along. Nelson is by far the most experienced player, while Brick could run the team after doing so for most of the conference season as he started 17 of 18 Southern games. Conroy is high on his newcomers, with Heyland bringing a reputation as a shooter and Gonzalez and Clark bringing some size to their positions. The newcomers will play early and often throughout the season as the Bulldogs try to turn the page to more success.

Conference Outlook

The conference is Davidson’s to lose, although there are some good teams to keep an eye on besides the Wildcats. UNC Greensboro should be the favorite in the North, but not by a wide margin, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Western Carolina contends a year early with their core group of sophomores. Meanwhile, a couple of bottom teams are trying to rebuild almost from scratch and will likely have some growing pains.


SoCon Notebook

by - Published January 12, 2007 in Conference Notes

Southern Conference Notebook

by Tyler Annett

As we begin 2007 in the Southern Conference, two teams have started out of the gate surprisingly strong both in conference and non-conference play. Appalachian State and Davidson have posted 4-0 records to begin conference play, as the Mountaineers are 12-3 and the Wildcats are 13-3. These two teams will meet January 20th in Davidson, NC, and it looks to be the big match-up in the conference so far.

Each of these teams is a surprise first-place leader at this point in the season. Davidson is coming off an NCAA appearance last season, yet lost four starters to graduation and close to 75 percent of their offensive firepower from a season ago. Despite this the Wildcats lead the conference in scoring at 81.9 points per game, which is 6.5 points higher than the next team in the league, and are currently riding a nine-game winning streak. Led by junior forwards Boris Meno and Tony Sander, Davidson continues to be the offensive juggernaut they have been for the past three seasons in leading the conference in scoring under coach Bob McKillop. The surprise player for Davidson has been freshmen Stephen Curry, the son of former NBA star Dell Curry, who has a provided a spark behind the arc for the wildcats. Curry, who was not heavily recruited out of high school because of his lack of size and unorthodox shot, leads the team in points per game at 19.6 and with his 40 percent clip from long range, and as a freshmen looks like one of the best players in the league already. The Wildcats’ rebounding has also been a key to their success with an average of 40.1 rebounds a game as a team.

Much of Appalachian State’s success has come on the offensive end of the court as well. Appalachian State is second to Davidson in scoring led by senior guard D.J. Thompson (1st-Team All-Conference last season), who is top ten in the conference in points, steals and assists in once again making a bid for player of the year. The Mountaineers also are one of the top five teams in the league in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Senior guard Nathan Cranford joins Thompson in one of the strongest backcourts in the conference, as Cranford has helped bring stability to a young team. A tough schedule early on out of conference included road games against ACC members Clemson (the last undefeated team in the nation), Virginia Tech and Virginia along with a strong opening to conference play have helped give the Appalachian State a strong RPI (ratings Percentage Index) ranking. Currently the Mountaineers have the No. 9 RPI rating, a chief tool used to by the Tournament Committee on Selection Sunday on March 11th. Yet most analysts believe this ranking will drop as the season continues, so the Mountaineers will need to maintain their momentum to try and win the conference outright. No Southern Conference team has ever received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and a bid this season is highly unlikely.

Both of these teams have positioned themselves nicely for a strong run to the conference regular season title as well as the conference tournament title. We will watch closely as to what these two hot teams do as the season moves along.

Player of the Week: Nathan Cranford, Appalachian State
Cranford scored 30 points and grabbed five rebounds, hitting four 3-point baskets in the first six and a half minutes to help pull off a strong victory against the College of Charleston, who was the pre-season pick by many (including myself) to win the conference. This victory helped push the Mountaineers to 4-0 in the conference and the status of a true contender for the conference title at this early point in the season.

Team of the Week: The Citadel
Although the Bulldogs are still only 5-10 overall, this week they won two conference games against Elon and Wofford, which matches their conference win total from a year ago with 12 games in conference to go. Both wins came on the road and pushed their conference record to .500 at 2-2. With eight of their last fourteen conference games at home, the Bulldogs have a definite shot to surpass their win total by a couple games from last season.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Furman vs. College of Charleston
Both clubs have not started as well as they hoped, considering they believed they had strong teams this season. The Cougars, at 2-2, were pre-season favorites to take the Conference and need a victory at home badly to stay in the race with Appalachian State and Davidson, while the Panthers at 1-2 would like a get a strong road victory to jumpstart their slow start to the season. Look for this Saturday afternoon matchup to be a low-scoring affair, as neither team averages over 70 points per game or above 45 percent from the field.


Southern Notebook

by - Published November 18, 2006 in Conference Notes

Southern Conference Notebook

by Tyler Annett

Star Power

The outstanding play of the returning stars of the Southern Conference led the way in these week’s games as well as new players arriving on the scene to give the league some fresh faces.

Kyle Hines of UNC-Greensboro, a potential player of the year candidate, proved the pre-season speculation true with a career-high 38 points and 12 rebounds against Marshall in an overtime loss. Through three games, Hines is averaging 25 points per game and 9 rebounds per game, both conference highs.

Other returning stars had strong debuts as well with Robby Bostain posting 25 and 26-point nights in wins for Furman, D.J. Thompson leading the way for Appalachian State with 18 points over North Greenville, and Dontaye Draper scoring 19 points for College of Charleston in Coach Bobby Cremins’ debut win with the Cougars.

This week’s play also saw the debuts of unknown players who are quickly making their mark felt in week one. Davidson freshmen Stephen Curry is averaging 22.5 points per game through four games for the Wildcats. Curry, an aggressive forward who was not even expected to start, has helped reignite last year’s NCAA tournament representative. Davidson has also gotten strong play from junior forward Thomas Sander, who averaged only 6.6 points per game last season but has scored 19 or more in three of the first four games. Appalachian State has also seen strong play from freshmen guard Kellen Brand, who scored 19 points in only 18 minutes off the bench. If Brand can continue his stellar, play the Mountaineers could have a solid backcourt with him and Thompson.

Wildcats Got Offense

The second story of the week is the play of the Davidson Wildcats. Yes, it is true that no one should be surprised that they are 3-1 at week’s end. Their three wins were over perennial scrubs, and their one loss came against the only notable team they played (Michigan). Yet the reason their play is worth writing about is the potency of their offense, as Davidson through four games is averaging 85 points a game. This is especially significant with the fact that they lost seven contributing seniors from last season’s squad, including all-conference player Brendan Winters and conference assists leader Kenny Grant.

Coach Bob McKillop’s team was expected by most (including this humble writer) to fall off a bit, as the team is young and full of a lot question marks, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Outside of junior forward Boris Meno, the Wildcats returned nearly no offensive weapons from one of the top offenses in the league last season. Yet so far this season, Davidson is not only seeing increased efficiency from Meno, but others have begun to step up as well. Freshmen Curry is leading all scorers with 22.5 ppg, followed by Sander, William Archambault, and Jason Richards, who are all averaging over 11 ppg. If they can continue this barrage on the offensive end of the court with these five very strong players, Davidson will not see the drop off in which most believed would occur, but rather an explosive team that will contend all season for the conference title.


Overall the conference went 14-12 overall for the week with no real notable wins, yet no real notable losses either. The conference dominated the lower-tier Division I squads (as well as some non-Division I teams), and lost to the traditional powerhouses. The conference schedule is still a little over two weeks from starting, but the play in this first week will begin to form judgments as to where these teams will stand come the holiday season.

Player of the Week: (Tie) Kyle Hines, UNC-Greensboro & Stephen Curry, Davidson.
Hines started the season off exactly the way everyone expects him to play all year with averages of 25 points and 9 rebounds per game. Curry, a relative unknown freshman, has taken the league by storm with a 32-point performance against Michigan and a four-game average of 22.5 ppg.

Game of the Week: Wofford vs. North Carolina State.
Although the Terriers lost, they gave the Wolfpack and new coach Sidney Lowe a huge scare with only a four-point overtime differential. Wofford made 16 three-point shots through the course of the game and held a halftime lead, but that was not enough in the end. Although a defeat, this game made a statement that the conference can most definitely compete with the likes of the ACC.


Southern Conference Preview

by - Published November 16, 2006 in Conference Notes

Southern Conference 2006-07 Preview

by Tyler Annett

The Southern Conference is preparing to once again be as competitive and exciting a conference as it has always been.

There were three coaching changes made and numerous strong players have left in league, which then in turn means its time for some new guys to step up and shine. The biggest news in the conference over the off-season was the coaching changes. Furman hired new head coach Jeff Jackson, a former assistant at Vanderbilt for seven seasons, to replace Larry Davis, who took an assistant coaching position on Mick Cronin’s new staff at Cincinnati. The Citadel hired alumnus Ed Conroy, a former assistant at Coastal Carolina and Tennessee, in April after an atrocious 1-14 record last season in conference play. But the biggest move is the College of Charleston’s hiring of Bobby Cremins.

Cremins is regarded as one of the best coaches in the country. As a coach at Georgia Tech, he has the most wins in the school’s history, and led the Yellow Jackets to 14 winning seasons and 14 post-season appearances in 19 years at the school, including a Final Four appearance in 1989-1990. He coached such stars as Dennis Scott, Mark Price, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury. This is significant because of the legitimacy it brings to the conference. Cremins is a legendary coach who hopes to work his magic at Charleston, who was a consistent winner and NCAA tournament participant in the 1990s, but has recently missed the Big Dance the last few years. Both fans of the Cougars and the league should be eager for the national attention which Cremins can bring to the Southern Conference and help to show the nation the talent that this conference can produce.

Numerous star players leave college basketball each year and the Southern Conference is no different. This 2006-2007 season will have no Elton Nesbitt of Georgia Southern, honorable mention AP All-American; Brendan Winters of Davidson, all-conference guard; Kenny Grant of Davidson, conference leader in assists per game; as well as Alphonso Pugh (Chattanooga), Jackson Atoyebi and Scottie Rice (Elon), Tony Carter (Furman), Dante Terry (The Citadel), and Howard Wilkerson (Wofford) to name a few. But this league is once again full of potential impact players.

The first impact player in the conference is UNC Greensboro’s Kyle Hines. The 6’6″ junior is the highest scoring returning player and was the conference’s leader in rebounds. A ferocious defender with a nice shooting touch, Hines is the leading contender for player of the year in the conference. There is competition out there for Hines, including D.J. Thompson, another returning all-conference player is a natural scorer with an average of 19.1 ppg and is an athletic defender who is disruptive and will create numerous steal opportunities this season. Another returning all-conference player is College of Charleston’s Dontaye Draper, the senior point guard that will lead the way for Cremin’s cougars this season. With lots of size up front in Charleston, look for Draper to be a conference leader in assists and also get lots of opportunities to shoot that beautiful long-range jump shot. Some other players that could have impact seasons this year include Robby Bostain of Furman, Ricky Hickman of UNC Greensboro, and J’Mel Everhart of the Citadel, who will still be a force to reckon with in the low post although his team will struggle.

Last season atop the two divisions were one surprise and one consistent powerhouse. In the North division, Elon surprisingly had the best conference record at 10-4, barely holding off Chattanooga at 8-6. In the South, the Georgia Southern Eagles took the title at 11-4 with Davidson and Charleston following close behind in a much more traditional finish. This year will no doubt be just as exciting.

In the South, the favorites look to be College of Charleston and Georgia Southern with Furman being a potential sleeper. Davidson, after its surprise run to the NCAAs, will be hit hard by the loss of seven seniors and will drop in the standings closer to Wofford and the Citadel, who are once again in 2006-2007 looking to be rebuilding once again. College of Charleston possesses the largest starting five in the conference with four players over 6’7″ along with Draper running the point. This team is a little thin on the bench, and the bench players are young, but with Cremins and Draper expect this team to pound it inside nightly in this small conference. Georgia Southern loses Nesbitt as mentioned earlier, but once again returns another strong team. They notched the best scoring offense in the league last season and will prove to be a threat every night to put up points, especially with sharpshooter Donte Gennie throwing it up from behind the arc. They also have a strong inside presence with Louis Graham crashing the boards. Furman is the sleeper pick to compete with the two big boys. After finishing 8-7 in the conference, Furman returns scorers Robby Bostain and Moussa Diagne who will keep the Podins potent offense continually putting up points. Yet if they really want to contend for the south title, Furman must improve on their mediocre defense.

The North division is the weaker of the two divisions with Chattanooga being the clear cut favorite. Chattanooga, despite the loss of Alphonso Pugh, will have Kedric Mays and Casey Long to enforce their will on offense. The Mocs will also be one of the deepest teams in the league with a rotation of up to ten players by mid-season, which includes five freshmen and three sophomores. Their youth will be expected to improve them defensively from worst in the league last season (72.7 ppg) if they want to regain the North division. Elon will contend again as well with seniors Chris Chalko and LeVonn Jordan leading a young group of six freshmen. Elon is one of the better defensive teams in the league and will use their pressure along with hopeful improvement from Ola Atoyebi in the post to contend. The sleeper pick in the North is UNC Greensboro, who with Kyle Hines, Ricky Hickman, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Oleksiak should be able to improve their stagnant offense. The Spartans were already a tremendous defensive team as league leaders in steals and blocks, so look for this team to take a step forward and be a tough out for everyone in the conference. Although Appalachian State has D.J. Thompson in the backcourt, this team will struggle to score consistently and their lack of experience will hurt them in close conference games as well. Lack of depth will be the downfall for the Catamounts of Western Carolina, who will finish last in the North. Western Carolina provides little pop on offense or defense to consistently win games this season.

North Division
UNC Greensboro
Appalachian State
Western Carolina

South Division
College of Charleston
Georgia Southern
The Citadel

Pre-Season Awards

All-Conference Team: D.J. Thompson (App. St.), Kyle Hines (UNC Greensboro), Dantaye Draper (College of Charleston), Robby Bostain (Furman), and Ricky Hickman (UNC Greensboro)

Honorable Mention: Chris Chalko (Elon), Kedric Mays (Chattanooga), and J’Mel Everhart (The Citadel)

Player of the Year: Kyle Hines, UNC Greensboro
The returning rebounding leader, who also averaged 19.3 ppg last season, will only mature and improve in that 6’6″ frame of his. Hines has the rare combination of shooting ability and the footwork to post up in the paint. He will be the most dominant presence in the league, and his success will help to turn around UNC Greensboro as well.

Defensive Player of the Year: D.J. Thompson, Appalachian St.
Thompson returns as a top defensive guard with the departure of Brendan Winters (Davidson) and Elton Nesbitt (Georgia Southern). His quickness and intelligence will garner him to the steals title and his size will help shut down opponents ability to shoot the ball from the outside.

Most Improved: Ola Atoyebi, Elon
The younger brother of former Elon forward Jackson Atoyebi, Ola will see significant minutes off the bench for Elon. His size and strength will allow him to improve his points, rebounds and blocks greatly. On a fairly small team, Atoyebi will give them power in the middle to continue success in the North Division.

Freshmen to Watch: Matt Gwyne (Chattanooga), Bryant Barr (Davidson), and Krysztos Janiszewski (Georgia Southern)

Coach on the Hot Seat: Bobby Cremins, College of Charleston.
This is a wild pick for hot seat in that he will not be fired regardless of the Cougars’ record this season. Yet he is going to be under tremendous pressure for a few reasons. For one, his credentials speak for themselves (most wins in Georgia Tech history, ACC tournament titles, ACC regular season titles, etc.) Second he comes to a school in Charleston that although obviously not an ACC-sized school, it still has a recent history of a strong basketball program dating back to the early 1990s. The fans and alumni will expect Cremins to produce solid teams that can contend for Southern Conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances like they saw only a few years ago, and if he does not pull the team to this level in 06-07 in contention complaints will be abound in South Carolina.

Team Capsules

North Division

Chattanooga Mocs (1st North)
Head Coach:
John Shulman
2005-2006 Record: 19-13 (8-6)
Projected Starters: Kedric Mays (Senior guard) 6’0″/180, Casey Long (Senior guard) 6’2″/190, Ricky Hood (Senior guard) 6’3″/ 195, Bernard Lowndes (Senior forward) 6’9″/200, Khadil Hartwell (Sophomore forward) 6’8″/215
Season Highlights: Las Vegas Invitational vs. Towson, Tennessee State and Prarie View (11/24-11/25); @ Florida (11/18); vs. Davidson (12/18); vs. College of Charleston (1/27)

Chattanooga has finished in the top three or better in their division in the last five seasons, and this season the North Division looks to be much weaker, allowing the Mocs a chance to take the North title. Led by returning senior guards Casey Long and Kedric Mays, Chattanooga will have a strong offensive unit that was in the top four in the conference in scoring offense, rebounding, and field goal percentage. Although they are one of the smaller teams in the league, Chattanooga was able to finish in the top three of the conference in rebounding on both sides of the court. Yet they must improve their shooting from beyond the arc with this smaller team to compete with the bigger teams. The Mocs only shot 31.6 percent from the 3-point line, which was second worst in the conference. Look for production immediately off the bench from freshmen Matt Gwyne, a big guy at 6’10” who could see minutes because of his size, and 6’5″ Jeff Smith who gives them size in the backcourt as well. This is a nice core of veterans along with one of the stronger recruiting classes in the conferences that will make the Mocs the front-runners to win the North Division and compete for the tournament title.

UNC Greensboro Spartans (2nd North)
Head Coach:
Mike Dement
2005-2006 Record: 12-19 (4-10)
Projected Starters: Kyle Hines (Junior forward) 6’6″/230, Ricky Hickman (Senior guard) 6’3″/175, Dwayne Johnson (Junior guard) 5’9″/180, Kevin Oleksiak (Junior guard) 6’4″/195, David McClemy (Sophomore gorward) 6’9″/225
Season Highlights: @ Duke (11/16); vs. Virginia Tech (1/10); vs. College of Charleston (2/10); Bracket busters on ESPN, team to be determined (2/17)

UNC Greensboro is coming off its third losing season in four years, yet optimism is high in Greensboro. That optimism can come easily to a lot of teams if they had the kind of talented player the Spartans have in Kyle Hines. The 6’6″ junior from New Jersey was an all-conference player last season and with departures of Davidson’s Brendan Winters and Georgia Southern’s Elton Nesbitt, Hines just might be the most gifted player in the conference. The highest returning scorer in the league at 19.9 ppg and also the defending rebound champ (8.2 rpg), Hines is a quick wing forward who possesses the ability to shoot the mid-range jumper along with post up with anyone in the conference. Yet it’s a team game, and just like last season Hines cannot win games all alone. Greensboro must improve offensively, where they ranked no higher than 6th in every major offensive category, to increase their win total. Defensively, the Spartans were tops in both blocks and steals last season with Hines and Ricky Hickman leading the way on that side of the ball. The offense will continue to improve with solid contributions from the guards once again. The three guard tandem of Hickman, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Oleksiak combined for 35.8 ppg last season. Depth will be an issue for this team with only seven viable players to contribute night in and night out. Yet good vibes continue to surround this program with such a great inside player like Hines in a mostly small league and a strong core of guards to protect the backcourt, the Spartans could be very dangerous. If this team can overcome their depth issues, they should be the sleeper team of the conference.

Elon Phoenix (3rd North)
Head Coach:
Ernie Nestor
2005-2006 Record: 15-14 (10-4)
Projected Starters: Chris Chalko (Senior forward) 6’8″/220, LeVonn Jordan (Senior guard/forward) 6’6″/185, Montell Watson (Senior guard)6’1″/170, Brett James (Sophomore guard) 6’5″/185, and Brian Waters (Junior guard) 6’2″/185
Season Highlights: @ Geogia Tech (11/10); Kent State Tournament (12/27-12/28); vs. Chattanooga (1/15); Bracketbusters Game on ESPN, team to be determined (2/17)

Elon surprisingly finished with a 10-4 conference record last season to steal the North Division from typical powerhouse Chattanooga, and this season you can count on the Phoenix being in the thick of the North Division hunt once again. Elon returns a solid team despite the losses of senior leaders Scottie Rice and Jackson Atoyebi, welcoming a strong group of freshmen. This season’s team has five guys returning who averaged more than 22 minutes a game last season, and this experience will likely minimize the damage of losing Rice and Atoyebi. Elon established themselves last season on the defensive end up the court by holding opponents to 42.3 percent from the field (second in the conference) and in the top 3 in steals. Yet the offense lacked and will need to improve for continued success. Last season Elon averaged only 67.1 ppg, which was last in the league, and was 9th in the league in field goal percentage. Expect senior Chris Chalko, last year’s scoring leader, to increase the workload and the three-headed backcourt of Montell Watson, Brett James and LeVonn Jordan to apply continued pressure in the backcourt to keep the Phoenix in contention. The six freshmen are expected to eventually contribute, but look for a sophomore to make a noticeable impact off the bench – Ola Atoyebi, former all-conference player Jackson Atoyebi’s younger brother. He has the size and post-up ability to give Elon a much-needed presence in the paint. With valuable returning guards to attack on defense, and a huge influx of younger players, the Phoenix should for a second straight year contend for the North Division and make an impact in the conference tournament.

Appalachian State Mountaineers (4th North)
Head Coach:
Houston Fancher
2005-2006 Record: 14-16 (6-8)
Projected Starters: DJ Thompson (Senior guard) 5’8″/170, Doug McClaughlin-Williams (Junior forward) 6’8″/220, Tyler Webb (Sophomore forward) 6’9″/225, Nathan Crawford (Senior guard) 6’2″/190, Demetrius Scott (Senior guard) 6’2″/190
Season Highlights: @ Clemson (11/17); @ Wake Forest (11/25); San Juan Shootout vs. Virginia (12/19-12/21); Bracketbusters on ESPN, team to be determined (2/17)

The Appalachian State Mountaineers return a team under Coach Fancher that is led by veterans that would like to see a winning season for only the second time in five seasons. They are led by three senior guards that include all-conference player D.J. Thompson, who was also the team’s leading scorer and assist man, and a strong shooting wing in Nathan Crawford. Also returning is their rebounding leader in forward Douglass McClaughin-Williams, who’s three-point shooting along with Thompson gives the Mountaineers one of the best inside-outside combinations in all the conference. They will rely on these two upperclassmen to improve an offense which ranked fifth in the league in scoring and a lowly tenth in field goal percentage. The defense must improve as well considering that Appalachian State is one of the bigger teams in the conference and was unable to place better than seventh in both offensive and defensive rebounds. This is the key to their success; if the mountaineers can manage the boards much better with five guys over 6’7″, that will open up their ability to run. Their three guards are quick and able to hit the basket hard. With a strong combination of McClaughin-Williams and Thompson, the Mountaineers have some opportunities to contend for a definite .500 conference record if not better.

Western Carolina Catamounts (5th North)
Head Coach:
Larry Hunter
2005-2006 Record: 12-19 (4-10)
Projected Starters: Antonio Russell (Junior guard) 6’0″/170, Kyle Greathouse (Senior guard) 6’0″/185, Eric Wilson (Junior guard) 6’1″/210, Negus McKenna (Junior forward) 6’4″/225, Stan Johnson (Sophomore forward) 6’7″/220
Season Highlights: Shamrock Invitational @ St. Mary’s (CA) vs. Rice, Belmont and St. Mary’s (CA) (12/28-12/29); vs. UNC Greensboro (1/6); @ College of Charleston (2/5); vs. Appalachian State (2/19)

Western Carolina comes off a 2005-2006 season where they finished a surprising 7-7 in the conference, yet this season’s team could have its struggles. The struggles begin on the offensive side of the ball, where the catamounts rank in the bottom four in the conference in ppg, field goal percentage, offensive rebounds, and assists. The offense will continue to struggle this season with a continued lack of depth (only seven players with any past playing time) and limited veteran leadership (only one senior). Their lack of size will hurt will be detrimental to their defensive game strategy; the Catamounts only have one guy at 6’8″ in freshman Jake Robinson. There are a few bright spots to this year’s team, though, with the return of guards Antonio Russell (last season’s points leader with 13.3 ppg) and Kyle Greathouse who was in the top 10 in the conference in 3-pt. field goal percentage (40.3%). Although the five freshmen will likely have their struggles early on in the season, look for Robinson and 6’7″ Omar Thomas to be impact players by season’s end because of their size and ability to potentially impact the low-post. This season for Western Carolina and Coach Hunter is a learning and developing season, and with that in mind look for their young players to see significant time by season’s end as the Catamounts begin to look forward past this season.

South Division

College of Charleston Cougars (1st South)
Head Coach:
Bobby Cremins (first season)
2005-2006 Record: 17-11 (9-6)
Projected Starters: Dontaye Draper (Senior guard) 5’11″/180, Jermaine Johnson (Sophomore jorward) 6’7″/250, David Lawrence (Senior forward) 6’7″/185, Josh Jackson (Junior center) 6’8″/255, Josh McCandies (Senior forward) 6’9″/225
Season Highlights: Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands vs. Villanova, Xavier, TCU, Toledo, VCU, Middle Tenn. St., and Iowa (11/17-11/20); @ South Carolina (12/5); College of Charleston Classic vs. Radford, IUPUI, and Farleigh Dickinson (12/29-12/30); vs. Davidson (2/12); @ Georgia Southern (2/24)

College of Charleston has become the biggest story of the off-season with the signing of coaching legend Bobby Cremins, who has the most wins in Georgia Tech history. Cremins brings back legitimacy to a traditional Southern Conference power who has not won the South Division since the 2002-2003 season. Cremins inherits a strong frontcourt lineup with four guys over 6’7″ along with all-conference point guard Dontaye Draper, who as a senior will be asked to lead this team to success. Although one of the more talented teams in the league, as a whole the Cougars lack experience with six players expected to contribute this season who last season only logged less than ten minutes of playing time on average. There are also three freshmen that Cremins expects to play significant amounts of time, including Taurus Skrimpkauskus, a foreign sharpshooter from Lithuania, and the aggressive guard out of Brooklyn named Javon Paris. Yet the starting lineup does not lack in experience with three seniors and a junior expected to continue Charleston’s dominance both offensively (third in the conference in points) and defensively (second in points allowed). Size will allow the cougars to slow up tempo in games and go to work on the interior against much smaller conference teams. Look for sophomore Jermaine Johnson, last season’s rebounding leader, to improve on both sides of the court after putting on more weight to his large frame this off-season. With Draper at the point, the big men down low and Cremins calling the shots this young and thin on depth team will definitely contend for the Conference titles both in the regular season and in the tournament.

Georgia Southern Eagles (2nd South)
Head Coach:
Jeff Price
2005-2006 Record: 20-10 (11-4)
Projected Starters: Louis Graham (Junior forward) 6’8″/220, Jimmy Tobia (Senior guard) 6’4″/190, Donte Gennie (Senior guard) 6’1″/185, Dwayne Foreman (Senior guard) 5’10″/170, and Krysztof Janiszewski (Freshmen center) 6’11″/280
Season Highlights: CBE Classic @ Duke, vs. UC-Davis (11/12-11/13); @ Clemson (12/19); @ College of Charleston (1/15); vs. Chattanooga (2/3); vs. College of Charleston (2/24)

The defending South Division champions ended last season with a disappointing loss to Davidson and are looking to return to the top of the conference once again this season. Aa key for the Eagles will be to find a replacement offensively for Elton Nesbitt, the conference’s leading scorer last season at 22.1 ppg. His ability to score must be replaced if Georgia Southern wants to remain near the top in the conference in scoring. The Eagles will rely on a veteran team of juniors and seniors that includes rebounding leader Louis Graham (7.4 rpg) and sharpshooter Donte Gennie (45.2% from 3-pt. range), who could end up leading this team in scoring. But the most important aspect for this team in 2006-07 is their defense. Their problems were their ability to rebound defensively, giving up 37.5 rebounds to opponents. The Eagles will have to rely on junior center Ryan Hynes (6’8″/270) and incoming freshmen Krysztof Janiszewski (6’11″/280 Polish phenom) to control the paint and open jump shot opportunities and fast-break points for their feisty backcourt of Gennie and Jimmy Tobias. Georgia Southern is a traditional power team in the Southern Conference, and although Nesbitt is tough to replace, the Eagles will still contend for the Conference title because their aggressive offense and strong guard play. This team will be in the hunt for the NCAA tournament bid.

Furman Paladins (3rd South)
Head Coach:
Jeff Jackson (first season)
2005-2006 Record: 15-13 (8-7)
Projected Starters: Robby Bostain (Senior guard/forward) 6’6″/200, Eric Webb (Senior guard) 6’2″/185, Moussa Diagne (Senior forward)6’8″/220, Stanley Jones (Sophomore forward/center) 6’9″/240, and Jadee Jones (Sophomore guard) 6’2″/180
Season Highlights: @ Clemson (11/15); @ California (12/19); @ Georgia Southern (1/6); @ College of Charleston (1/13); vs. College of Charleston (2/19)

The Furman Paladins begin Jeff Jackson’s career in the Southern Conference with a return of a very deep and veteran led team that could pose a stronger threat than most believe. Despite the loss of senior point guard Tony Carter, who led the team in assists and steals last season, the Paladins return seven players who averaged over 10 minutes a game last season. These players include last season’s scoring and rebounding leader Robby Bostain, as well as the team’s 3-point threat Eric Webb, who was fourth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (41.6%). A team that shot 46.4 percent from the field last season (tops in the conference) along with 36.7 percent from 3-point range (third) will be a formidable offense once again this season. Their problems lie in defensive categories, where Coach Jackson needs his team to go from mediocre to a top-tier defense if they want more success. With three 6’8″ forwards/centers along with an aggressive pressing backcourt scheme, the Paladins hope to create more turnovers to help ignite their already potent offense. If this team can continue to shoot well from the field and get defensive production from its youthful bench that features five freshmen and three sophomores, this team can not only compete with the pride of this conference but also be a threat for more significant prizes come the end of conference tournament time.

Davidson Wildcats (4th South)
Head Coach:
Bob McKillop
2005-2006 Record: 20-11 (10-5)
Projected Starters: Boris Meno (Junior forward) 6’8″/220, Thomas Sander (Junior forward) 6’8″/220, Jason Richards (Junior guard) 6’2″/190, Bryant Barr (Freshmen guard) 6’4″/185, and William Archambault (Freshmen forward) 6’6″/210
Season Highlights: @ Duke (11/25); Arizona St. Hoops Classic vs. Ohio, UNC A&T, and Arizona St. (12/21-12/22); @ Georgia Southern (1/23); vs. Chattanooga (2/6); @ College of Charleston (2/12)

After an NCAA Tournament appearance last season where the Wildcats lost to No. 2 seed Ohio State in the first round of play, a repeat appearance would be quite an accomplishment for Bob McKillop’s team. McKillop has lost seven seniors from last year’s 20-win team, including first-team all-conference guard Brendan Winters, who led his team in scoring (16.9), Kenny Grant, who led the entire conference in assists per game with 6.7, and his own son Matt, the Wildcats’ top three-point threat at nearly 36 percent from the behind the arc. Last year’s team led the conference in scoring (77.5) and free throw percentage (76.1%), and was in the top three in the conference in field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage and offensive rebounding. There was no lack on the defensive side of the ball, either. With only two seniors this season, who played a combined 27 minutes last season, this Davidson squad will have its struggles. Seven freshmen and sophomores must develop and mature quickly in McKillop’s traditionally efficient offense for any success to occur this season. Freshmen guards Bryant Barr and Stephen Curry will be looked to build on past backcourt success at Davidson to improve this young team. With a still large frontcourt (seven players over 6’6″), including 6’8″ bruiser Boris Meno, the young guards must include the interior offense to have another March Madness opportunity or it could be a rebuilding year down in Davidson.

Wofford Terriers (5th South)
Head Coach:
Mike Young
2005-2006 Record: 11-18 (6-9)
Projected Starters: Drew Gibson (Junior guard) 6’2″/185, Shane Nichols (Junior guard) 6’0″/185, Eric Marshall (Senior guard) 6’4″/185, Emilio Lebolo (Freshmen center) 6’10″/240, Tyler Wheatley (Sophomore forward/center) 6’9″/220
Season Highlights: @ North Carolina St. (11/10); @ Auburn (12/16); vs. The Citadel (1/6); @ College of Charleston (1/22); vs. UNC Greensboro (2/5)

Wofford has not been over .500 in the last five seasons, and if they want to achieve that mark they will have to live and die by the play of their guards. The Terriers have ten players that play the guard position on their 15-man roster, including returning starters Drew Gibson and Shane Nichols, who will be looked upon for leadership and offensive production. They must step up after the loss of forward Howard Wilkerson, who led the Terriers in points and rebounds last season. A woeful offensive team last season to begin with (a league-worst 67.1 ppg), they must rely on their speed at the guard position and ability to shoot the ball. A poor rebounding team, the Terriers will look to three freshmen over 6’7″, including Cory Godziniski (6’8″) who possesses guard-like ball handling skills but also the size to score in the lane. Coach Mike Young sees these big guys as the future for Wofford in the low post. A very youthful team that includes ten underclassmen along with their ability to run up and down the guard with their array of guards, Wofford will be one of the most athletic and fast-paced teams in the league. Although they lack size and experience, Young and the terriers are hoping their speed and aggression can put them into the upper tier teams in the league. If their lack of size begins to expose them it will be another long season for Wofford.

The Citadel Bulldogs (6th South)
Head Coach:
Ed Conroy (first season)
2005-2006 Record: 10-21 (1-14)
Projected Starters: Kevin Hammack (Senior guard) 6’1″/189, J’Mel Everhart (Senior forward) 6’6″/205, Warren McClendon (Junior forward) 6’5″/245, Denny McClendon (Senior guard) 6’0″/175, Demetrius Nelson (Junior forward) 6’8″/250
Season Highlights: @ Michigan State (11/12); @ Notre Dame (11/19); vs. South Carolina (11/27); vs. UNC Greensboro (1/20); vs. Wofford (2/12)

After winning only 15 games in the conference over the past five years, including only one win last season, new coach Ed Conroy has his hands full at his alma mater. There is some good to be found in this struggling program is that they have veterans in this lineup to help teach their younger inexperienced teammates. Seniors Kevin Hammack, Denny McClendon and J’Mel Everhart will lead the way on a team that needs improvements in almost every facet of the game. The Bulldogs were ninth or worse in the conference in numerous categories. Improvement needs to be seen by Coach Conroy in all of these aspects to have any chance of success in 2006-07. To make matters worse for the Citadel is the loss of their best player last season in Dante Terry, who led them in points, assists, steals and three-point field goal percentage. Hammack will have to step up and replace Terry as the leader, but it’s a role Hammack can potentially fulfill considering he led the team in steals and assists two seasons ago. This teams lacks size with only one guy over 6’8″, but is going to be at least eight deep with Chris Diasperra and Vytautus Valiulis coming off the bench. Coach Conroy must depend on his upperclassmen starting lineup to set the tone for his group of seven freshmen, so that potentially in a season or two this team can climb out of the basement of the Southern Conference.


A lot can be expected from the 2006-07 season in the Southern Conference. It begins its non-conference slate against numerous powerhouse programs like Duke, Villanova, Michigan State, Florida, Kentucky and Iowa just to name a few. These types of games will help to gauge where the talent level is within the Southern Conference. These powerhouse schools are obviously expected to win, but the degree of difficulty in which College of Charleston or Chattanooga can put up in these games will help to build confidence as the season progresses.

Conference play kicks off November 27th with Wofford visiting UNC Greensboro along with numerous intriguing matchups to follow into December, including Chattanooga vs. College of Charleston and Appalachian St. vs. Georgia Southern. Then by the beginning of the year conference will fully begin and the races will be heating with intense matchups between College of Charleston vs. Georgia Southern twice (1/15 and 2/24) and Chattanooga vs. Elon twice (1/15 and most likely a Bracket Buster match-up on ESPN on 2/17). These conference battles will help shape and determine the two division champions before the conference tournament.

The favorites in the North Division are Elon and Chattanooga with UNC Greensboro as a sleeper pick and in the South Division are College of Charleston and Georgia Southern with Furman as a sleeper pick. The pick here for conference tournament champion and most likely lone Southern Conference representative in the NCAA Tournament is College of Charleston. Bobby Cremins and the Cougars will return to March Madness to give the most likely higher seed they face a challenge in the first round of play.


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Your Phil of Hoops

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

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Recruiting Coverage

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