MEAC Conference Preview

MEAC Conference Preview
Oct 17, 2006, 02:35 am

-1. DELAWARE STATE. The Hornets ran away with the regular season title last season and won an impressive 21 regular season games overall, but were upset in the championship game of the conference tournament and missed out on their chances to go to the NCAA. Still, they were the conference’s most dominant team and look to be again this year. They have four starters coming back, including guard Jasha Blunt who averaged 14.6 ppg last season. The Hornets have a very balanced attack all the way around. Like a lot of teams in this conference, they have an absolutely brutal out of conference schedule that consists of a lot of road games against major conference teams. However, once they get into conference play they should win the vast majority of their games.

-2. COPPIN STATE. The Eagles were right in the conference race last season, but finished up by losing four of their last five and dropping way out of contention. However, they are a very solid, well balanced, experienced team with four starters returning and they will likely finish toward the top of the league again and could challenge Delaware State for the regular season title. They have some very solid guard play in Tywain McKee (15.4 ppg) and Darryl Roberts (10.3 ppg). If this team struggles anywhere it’s on the glass, but they are as good as anyone in the conference out on the perimeter.

-3. NORFOLK STATE. The Spartans won four of their last six games last year and have four starters returning this year including junior guard Tony Murphy, who averaged 16.5 ppg last year. They definitely have an edge when it comes to experience and that should play a factor in their success. The loss of center Karandick Ogunride to graduation may be hard to compensate for. He averaged over 7 rpg. Other than that the Spartans appear to be very balanced and very solid.

-4. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE. The Bulldogs have a new head coach this year, but if the transition goes smoothly they could be one of the better teams in the league. They finished last season winning six of seven before losing in the semifinals of the conference tournament. Three starters return from last year’s team including Brian Mason who averaged 14.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg last season. The loss of Thurman Zimmerman, who was their leading rebounder, could hurt them underneath, but other than that they appear to have a solid team this year.

-5. FLORIDA A&M. The Rattlers were very inconsistent last season and have just two starters coming back so it is hard to determine what they will look like this season. Forward Rome Sanders and Guard Brian Green are both very solid players that can contribute in a number of ways. Both average over 10 ppg as well as over 5 rpg. They also return a lot of guys who came off the bench last year. Someone out of that group will have to step up in order for the Rattlers to be successful.

-6. HAMPTON. Last season for the Pirates resembled a meal where the entre was very mediocre, but the desert was excellent. They finished just 10-8 in conference play and had lost six of seven entering the conference tournament. However, they won four games and defeated Delaware State in the championship to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They lost four starters from last year’s team though and are very young and inexperienced this year. Guard Rashad West is the only returning starter, so a lot will be riding on his shoulders. With six freshman on the team this year it looks like it could be a building year for the Pirates.

-7. BETHUNE-COOKMAN. The Wildcats lost their two leading scorers from last year’s team and have just one starter returning, and that’s forward Sam Barber. They have seven new players this year so there are a lot of questions surrounding this team right now. Other than that they don’t seem to have a lot in the way of experience and that could work against them.

-8. HOWARD. The Bison were 2-20 at one point last season, but finished the year off by winning five of their last seven. They return four starters from last year’s team and if they can pick up where they left off they should be able to keep themselves out of the cellar and be competitive in this league. Their strength lies in their guard play. Darryl Hudson (12.1 ppg), Will Gant (10.6 ppg) and Skip Mitchell (7.4 ppg) should all contribute this year. Guard Eugene Myatt also gave them some big numbers off the bench last season and should be a contributor this year as well.

-9. NORTH CAROLINA A&T. The Aggies have played the last two seasons without a whole lot of scholarship players and that has been a huge disadvantage to them. However, they return four starters from last year’s team and could take a big step in building themselves up. Although they won just six games last year, they were more and more competitive as the season went on. Forward Jason Wills is good on the glass (7.1 rpg) as well as scoring the ball (14.7 ppg). They should get some good guard play out of Austin Ewing, who also averaged double figures last year.

-10. MORGAN STATE. Todd Bozeman, formerly of California, comes back to coaching after an eight year hiatus due to NCAA violations that occurred while he was at Cal. Still, the guy knows how to coach and could get Morgan State turned around in a hurry. It probably isn’t going to happen this year though. The Bears won just four games last season and were among the worst in all of college basketball. They do have a pretty good guard in Joseph McClean, who averaged 14.7 ppg a year ago, but other than that they are pretty weak.

-11. MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE. The Hawks have two decent guards in Ed Tyson and Jesse Brooks, but they were just 7-22 last season and lost eight of their last ten games. They don’t seem to have too much to indicate that they will challenge anyone at the top of the league. Depth is also a major problem for the Hawks this year.



-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) isn’t all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.

1. South Carolina State
2. Coppin State
3. Howard
4. Hampton
5. Norfolk State
6. Delaware State
7. North Carolina A&T
8. Morgan State
9. Maryland Eastern Shore
10. Florida A&M
11. Bethune Cookman

-Please feel free to send me feedback, whether it’s good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as it’s constructive.

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