Sports Network Southern Conference Preview

SoCon Champs - 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015

Moderators: BestOfBreed, dungeonjoe

Sports Network Southern Conference Preview

Postby BestOfBreed on Thu Nov 02, 2006 1:03 pm

http://www.sportsnetwork.com/default.as ... 047373.htm

College Basketball Preview - Southern Conference

The Sports Network

By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - OUTLOOK: Once again, 11 teams will compete for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as the 2006-07 season gets underway in the Southern Conference. In the North Division, UNC-Greensboro hopes that a year of maturity will pay big dividends for its wealth of returning starters. The Spartans look like the class of the division on paper, but Appalachian State is loaded with returnees as well and should be considered dangerous. Elon surprised everyone last season when it posted a 10-4 conference record, but the Phoenix may take a step backward. The same can be said of Chattanooga, which figures to take a back seat to both UNC-Greensboro and Appalachian State. Western Carolina split its 14 league games a year ago, and considering that there were some key losses endured, the Catamounts would be lucky to reach .500 again. In the South Division, the College of Charleston looks strong with four starters back in the fold from a team that won nine league games a year ago. Georgia Southern reached the NIT last season, a tremendous accomplishment for the program, but the loss of the league's top scorer will hurt. Furman appears to be a club on the upswing, while this year appears to be one of rebuilding for a Davidson program that always seems to be in contention. Don't expect much from either Wofford or The Citadel, as they don't have what it takes to hang with the SoCon's upper crust.

CONFERENCE CHAMPION: College of Charleston

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: NORTH DIVISION: 1. UNC-Greensboro; 2. Appalachian State; 3. Elon; 4. Chattanooga; 5.Western Carolina

SOUTH DIVISION: 1. College of Charleston; 2. Georgia Southern; 3. Furman; 4. Davidson; 5. Wofford; 6. The Citadel

TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS:

NORTH DIVISION:

UNC-GREENSBORO - Last season, the Spartans finished 4-10 in league play and seven games below .500 overall. So why do we like their chances of turning things around this year? Well, all five starters are back in place, including 6-6 junior forward Kyle Hines, who may be the conference's best player. In 2005-06, Hines averaged 19.3 ppg and 8.2 rpg, tremendous numbers for a player who already owns the school's career blocked shots record. Hines will get plenty of help from Ricky Hickman, a player who can get it done at both ends of the floor. In addition to his 18.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg a year ago, the three-point assassin also led the league in steals with 2.7 spg. Kevin Oleksiak returns 12.1 ppg to the mix, and the team's other two starters are good role players. Clearly, the Spartans are in position to make some serious noise.

APPALACHIAN STATE - Like UNC-Greensboro, Appalachian State welcomes back all five starters from last season. D.J. Thompson is just 5-8, but the diminutive guard is explosive and knows how to get his shot off over taller defenders. Last season, Thompson scored 19.1 ppg to go along with 4.4 apg, and there is no reason to expect a decline in numbers this year. While none of the other four remaining starters scored in double figures, all averaged more than 8.0 ppg, so there will be some offensive balance in the lineup. The starters aren't big, but Tyler Webb will add some size on the interior. The hope is that Webb and company will put up a better effort on the boards than last season.

ELON - The best returning player for Elon is 6-8 forward Chris Chalko, as he netted 12.6 ppg as a junior. Chalko is unique because he shoots the three- pointer exceptionally well for a big man. While there isn't a great deal of proven offensive performers on the roster for head coach Ernie Nestor, Elon plans to win games once again with its defense. Last year, opponents were able to shoot just 42.3 percent against the Phoenix, who know how to win close games. A major problem area last season was ball control, as Elon finished last in the league in turnover margin. Obviously, the guards must make better decisions, but experience should certainly prove helpful in that department.

CHATTANOOGA - The Mocs made a run to the final game of the SoCon Tournament last season, and while three starters are back from that squad, only one averaged double figures in the scoring department. That lone individual, Keddric Mayes, netted a modest 11.0 ppg, so the biggest concern heading into the new campaign is scoring. Mayes will be joined by fellow seniors Casey Long and Ricky Hood, all of whom have a wealth of big-game experience under their belts. John Shulman is a good coach who will never lose games for his Mocs with bad decisions. The question is whether or not he has the horses in place to make a serious run at a division title.

WESTERN CAROLINA - The Catamounts welcome back leading scorer Antonio Russell, a 6-0 guard who netted 13.3 ppg a year ago. Unfortunately, the only other returning starter, Eric Wilson, hasn't proven to be much of a scoring threat. To compound issues, the club figures to struggle along the front line, as there are no post performers with any credentials to speak of. Head coach Larry Hunter's team clearly doesn't have the firepower to contend with the top teams in the SoCon, and if he is able to win half of his league games again this season, Hunter should be considered a leading coach of the year candidate.

SOUTH DIVISION:

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON - Big-time college basketball fans will certainly recognize the new leader of the College of Charleston men's basketball program. Bobby Cremins, the former Georgia Tech head coach, has been entrusted with reviving a program that has fallen a bit from its usual perch atop the standings. Fan interest has declined, but Cremins' track record with a major program figures to cause a rejuvenation. Dontaye Draper's presence gives Cremins a chance to win right away. Although just 5-11, the standout guard is explosive, as he is coming off a season in which he averaged 18.5 ppg. Fortunately, three other starters are back in place, including center Josh Jackson (12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg). Jermaine Johnson figures to take a major step forward after a freshman campaign that saw him score 8.9 ppg while grabbing 7.5 rpg.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN - Life after Elton Nesbitt begins, and the star's 21.7 ppg from last season will certainly be missed. Fortunately, coach Jeff Price has a track record of consistency, as the Eagles have finished first in the division in three of the last five years. For that to happen again, the duo of Donte Gennie and Louis Graham must lead the way. Gennie, a 6-2 senior, scored 12.7 ppg a year ago, and Graham added 11.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg as a sophomore. With Nesbitt gone, expect significantly more looks for both Gennie and Graham which will obviously lead to a spike in their numbers. The Eagles were tops in the SoCon in turnover margin a year ago, a credit to the coaching staff.

FURMAN - First-year head coach Jeff Jackson takes over a program that does have some pieces in place. More specifically, four returning starters are back, three of which averaged double figures in scoring a year ago. Robby Bostain is a 6-6 senior swingman who posted 14.1 ppg to go along with 5.7 rpg in 2005-06. Eric Webb, a 6-2 guard, brings 12.8 ppg and 3.2 apg to the table, while 6-8 forward/center Moussa Diagne returns his 11.8 ppg. Webb shot almost 42 percent from three-point range a year ago and may be the best long-range shooter in the conference this season. Make no mistake, the Paladins have what it takes to challenge Georgia Southern and College of Charleston for division supremacy.

DAVIDSON - The Wildcats were a strong team last season who had no trouble putting points on the board. Unfortunately, the outstanding duo of Brendan Winters and Ian Johnson is gone, and only one starter is back. The lone returnee, Thomas Sander, posted just 6.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg a year ago, so it is hard to count on him to carry the load. Bob McKillop is a tremendous coach, but he figures to have one of the toughest tasks in the league this year. If newcomers such as William Archambault and Stephen Curry can step in and contribute right away, the team will benefit tremendously. Boris Meno, a reserve from a year ago, must also play up to his billing. Still, view the season with extremely cautious optimism.

WOFFORD - The Terriers finished three games below .500 in league play last season, and only two starters are back from that club. Shane Nichols figures to be the team's top option at the offensive end, as the 6-0 guard is coming off a season in which he netted 13.8 ppg on the strength of 93 three-pointers. The weakness of the club figures to be the frontcourt, as center Tyler Berg and forward Howard Wilkerson were both solid scorers and rebounders for the team a year ago. Wofford allowed 65.8 ppg last season, giving it the best scoring defense in the SoCon. Head coach Mike Young has done plenty more losing than winning during his four years with the program, and there is no reason to expect a major turnaround.

THE CITADEL - The Bulldogs have been bad for a long time and the struggles figure to continue in 2006-07. They managed just one win in SoCon play a year ago, and first-year head coach Ed Conroy inherits a program that has no where to go but up. J'mel Everhart, a 6-6 senior forward, may be the club's best returning player. Everhart scored 10.9 ppg to go along with 7.6 rpg in 2005-06, and he figures to be one of the more steady frontcourt performers in the league. Donny McLendon is a 6-0 senior guard who contributed 10.2 ppg, and Demetrius Nelson is coming off a campaign in which he posted 9.6 ppg and 6.2 rpg. The team's other McLendon, Warren, netted 10.9 ppg in a reserve role last season.
User avatar
BestOfBreed
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1720
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:18 am
Location: Fountain Inn, SC

Return to Men's Basketball

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron