BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. WINTHROP. The Eagles have absolutely dominated the Big South Conference over the past two seasons and will likely do the same thing again this year. Its gotten to the point to where its a big surprise whenever they lose a conference game. They blew through the regular season and tournament last year and nearly upset Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, but fell short at the end. They return the nucleus of last years team, including Chris Gaynor, Craig Bradshaw
who is a great big man, and Torrell Martin
who can really light it up from outside. This wont only be a good team in the Big South, but they may have the opportunity to really make a splash on the national scene. They are in the Preseason NIT, and if they can get some quality wins, which they are certainly good enough to do, they could get themselves in a position to be an at large caliber team and get a very manageable seed in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the Preseason NIT, the Eagles will be traveling to Maryland, Mississippi State, Old Dominion, Wisconsin and Texas A&M as well as playing in the Bracket Buster. If they can manage a couple of wins in those games, they will be in excellent shape.
-2. COASTAL CAROLINA. The Chanticleers won twelve games in a row, including two against Winthrop, before losing in the championship game by one point to Winthrop last season. They will once again be one of the better teams in the league and have the best chance at knocking off Winthrop. This is a team that relies heavily on their guards. Jack Leasure is among the best in the league at 17.8ppg. He shot over 41% from beyond the arc last season and is a good assist man as well. Forward Moses Sonko and Joseph Harris return to the line up as well. If they have any weak points, its a lack of experience at the point guard position as well as a lack of size underneath. Matt Brennan is 68, but he came off the bench last season and isnt exactly a proven force. Still, if he can step up this could be a dangerous team.
-3. HIGH POINT. The Panthers are a tremendous on the offensive end. Arizona Reid
is one of the best players in the conference. He managed ten double-doubles last season and ended the year averaging 18.3ppg and 8.9rpg. Replacing Akeem Scott at the guard position wont be easy, but Mike Jefferson returns to the starting lineup should be effective in the back court. They also need to step it up on the defensive end if they want to win more games.
-4. RADFORD. The Highlanders were inconsistent all throughout the season last year. They are faced with replacing Whit Holcomb-Faye who averaged over 23ppg last season. They also lost their other starting guard as well. They do have a very talented forward in Chris Oliver, who averaged 17.4ppg last season and is very effective on the post. Reggie McIntyre is another forward who was really coming on at the end of last season and will likely have a big year this year. Its the back court where the Highlanders are inexperienced and unproven. Someone will have to step up in order for them to be successful.
-5. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN. The Buccaneers were awful defensively last year and let their opponents shoot over 45% from the floor. They do return three starters, including guard Chris Moore, who led the team in scoring last season with 13.3ppg. He is also a great outside shooter as well. They really dont have an outstanding rebounder, nor do they have anyone all that effective coming off the bench. That and a lack of defense will likely keep the Bucs from finishing toward the top of the league.
-6. LIBERTY. The Flames had just four div1 wins last season. They have one outstanding player in Larry Blair (22.6ppg) but other than that they were weak all the way round, including on offense. They do have all five starters returning and with that experience they should be able to improve somewhat on last years season, but its unlikely that theyll finish toward the top of the league.
-7. UNC ASHEVILLE. Its really hard to know what to say about the Bulldogs. All five starters from last year are gone and none of the returners appear to be impact players. They have virtually no experience at all and will rely mostly on newcomers this season.
-8. VMI. The Keydets ended last season on a twelve game losing streak. They do have a very good front court with the likes of Reggie Williams
(19ppg, 7rpg) and Matt Murrer (12.7ppg, 7.9rpg) but they are weak on the perimeter and that is a problem. Still, like Liberty, all five starters are back and even though they were at the bottom of the league last year the experience factor could result in a few more wins this year. Still, its unlikely that theyll finish toward the top.
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.
3. UNC Asheville
6. Charleston Southern
7. High Point
8. Coastal Carolina
-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.