SOUTHERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. APPALACIAN STATE. The Mountaineers were just 14-16 last year, but they really got hot late and will likely continue that momentum into this season. All five starters return, as do most of their key players from off the bench. This is a very fast paced, transition oriented team that is led by guard D.J. Thompson, who averaged over 19ppg last season. If they have a weakness it is their inside game, but their scoring is balanced and they appear to be one of the better teams in the conference this year and should compete for the title.
-2. ELON. The Phoenix won the North Division last year, but fell to Davidson in the conference tournament. They were an excellent defensive team in conference play and return the nucleus of their team from last year. Forward Chris Chalko and guard Montel Williams are the two leading scorers and should emerge as the leaders of the team this year.
-3. CHATTANOOGA. The Mocs finished the season very strong last year, but they lost their two leading scorers from that team. They appear to have some decent guard play in Casey Long and Ricky Hood, but they are inexperienced in the post and that could be a problem for them. Still, this is a team that should get better as the season progresses.
-4. WESTERN CAROLINA. The Catamounts didnt finish the season strong at all last year, going just 4-7 in their final eleven games. They are going to have to rely on Omar Thomas
, who is a highly touted freshman, in order to establish their play underneath. Guards Antonio Russel (13.3ppg) and Eric Wilson return to give them some experience on the perimeter, but they are still a little unproven underneath. Still, look for Thomas to step up and be a contributor right away.
-5. UNC GREENSBORO. The Spartans appear to have a lot of talent, but it didnt translate into many wins down the stretch last season. They dropped seven of their last eight games. They have one of the best players in the league in forward Kyle Hines
. He averages over 19ppg, rebounds well, and is a great defender. They also have a very strong guard in Ricky Hickman. He averaged 18.7ppg last year and over 8rpg a game as well, which is excellent for a guard. He is also a good three point shooter. All five starters are back and with the talent they have they could be as good as anyone in the league, but they won just four conference games a year ago and really need to step it up this year.
-1. COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON. Tom Herrion had compiled a very respectable 80-38 record as head coach for the Cougars, but for whatever reason was not retained. Bobby Cremins, formerly of Georgia Tech, is the new head coach. This is a team that was playing very well down the stretch last season and returns four starters. They are really in a position to make some noise this year. They are very experienced and very well balanced. Dontaye Draper
is a very talented guard who averaged 18.5ppg last year. Josh Jackson and David Lawrence give them a strong presence on the glass as well.
-2. GEORGIA SOUTHERN. The Eagles had were the division champions last year, but were upset in their first conference game by Appalachian State. They have three starters coming back this year, but replacing guard Elton Nesbitt, who averaged close to 22ppg, wont be easy. The area where this team is strongest is their defense though. With Guard Dante Gennie and forward Louis Graham returning, who both averaged in double figures last year, they should be able to generate some offense as well.
-3. FURMAN. The Paladins also underwent a coaching change, but they do have four starters returning from last years team, including Robby Bostain who is effective as both a scorer and a rebounder. Forward Moussa Diagne gives adds to their strong frontcourt. This is a team that also collectively shoots the ball well from the outside. They could be a dark horse in the conference this year.
-4. WOFFORD. The Terriers have two strong guards in Shane Nichols and Eric Marsh
all, but in order for them to be successful some of their big men will have to step up underneath. They lost three starters off of last years team and experience could be an issue. They were a very strong defensive team a year ago and that should once again be their strength this season.
-5. DAVIDSON. The Wildcats have been the most dominant team in the conference over the past two years. They were undefeated during regular season conference play two years ago, and won the conference tournament last season. However, they lost seven players to graduation, including four starters, so they are going to have to undergo a massive rebuilding period. Thomas Sander is a fairly decent post player and shot over 61% from the field last year. Boris Meno should contribute in the post as well. However, this is a team that is very inexperienced and will have to rely on young talent in order to succeed.
-6. THE CITADEL. The Bulldogs were a very poor shooting team a year ago and will need to improve on that if they want to be competitive this year. They do have two pretty decent players in forward Jmel Everhart and guard Donny McLendon and should be able to hold their own in the front court, but depth is a major issue as well as overall talent.
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
1. Appalachian State
3. UNC Greenboro
5. Western Carolina
1. College of Charleston
2. Georgia Southern
5. The Citadel
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.