SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI. Head coach Ronnie Arrow has done a great job building this team from scratch. They have easily been the best Independent team for the past three years, and won twenty games the past two years. Now that they are finally in a conference they have a chance to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. With four starters coming back from last years team, including 70 center Chris Daniels
, who is a great scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, they appear to be the best team in this conference. Forward Cedric Smith also adds to a talented front court. This a good defensive and rebounding team that can also score some points. Being in a conference is a great opportunity for this team.
-2. SAM HOUSTON STATE. The Bearkats won 22 games last season, finished second in the league, and advanced to the conference championship game before losing to Northwestern State. They should have an even better team this year and are among the favorites to win the league. 12 players are back from last year, including four starters. Guard Jejuan Plair is a terrific all around player who can score, rebound, pass and play defense. Forward Ryan Bright is also a good scorer and rebounder. The loss of Chris Jordan, who was their leading scorer last year, could be difficult, but they appear to have enough weapons to offset that.
-3. NORTHWESTERN STATE. The Demons had an incredible season last year where they won 26 games and upset Iowa in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the second round. Four starters are gone from that team though, so they are back in rebuilding mode. They should still have a competitive team this year, but the chances of them making any noise in March like they did last year arent very good. Forward Jermaine Spencer is the only player returning to the starting line up. Guard Luke Rogers was a big contributor off the bench last year and should be an impact player for them again this year. However, they are one of the least experienced teams in the league this year and a lot remains to be seen as to how good they are.
-4. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN. The Lumberjacks finished strong last year by winning seven of nine before losing in the conference semifinals. Three starters are back including forwards Josh Alexander
and Antuane Miller who both averaged in double figures and rebounded well last season. They arent as experienced on the perimeter and that will certainly be a factor, but they do appear to be solid underneath.
-5. MCNEESE STATE. The Cowboys got off to a good start in conference play and were in a position to be well seeded in the conference tournament, but they collapsed down the end and lost their final four games. They also underwent a coaching change and although four starters are coming back they lost their leading scorer and will struggle to compete with the teams at the top of the league. Dwight Boatner is their best all around player. He leads the team in scoring and is a very good defender. The Cowboys will really be depending on him this year.
-6. SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA. The Lions got off to a very rough start last year, but ended the year by winning eight of their last ten games. Still, only two starters are back and experience will once again be an issue. Quennell Green is a solid forward and they should get some good guard play out of Terry Bryant and Daryl Cohen, but they arent the best rebounding team and depth could be a factor.
-7. LAMAR. Many believed that the Cardinals underachieved this year, and with only two starters coming back and a coaching change its hard to believe they will be any more successful this year. This is a team that relies heavily on guard play and transition offense. They do have a pretty solid back court with Matthew Barrow, who is a good all around player, and Brandon Chappel, but they lost a great deal of their scoring and experience.
-8. NICHOLLS STATE. The Colonials have been at the bottom of the league for a few years. Last year was the first time since the 1999-2000 season that they managed more than four div1 wins. They do have four starters coming back and their improvement should continue. Stefan Blaszczynski has one of the most unique last names in the entire conference. He is also one of the better all around players who can score, play defense and rebound well. Adonis Gray is another player who can score and contribute. They are deep and have a lot of experience and will look to continue their improvement this season.
-9. TEXAS SAN ANTONIO. The Roadrunners are among the many teams in this conference that underwent a coaching change. They do have three starters returning to the lineup, but they lost most of their leading scorer and best player in Andre Owens
. They appear to be lacking in talent, depth and experience. Last year they really struggled when it came to turning the ball over. It could easily be the same story this season.
-10. TEXAS ARLINGTON. The Mavericks really limped down the stretch last year losing eight of their last eleven games. They have a new coach and with only two starters returning they dont appear to have a whole lot of experience and it could once again be a long season. Forward Germaine Griffin came off the bench last year, but he should be a big contributor this year. He is fairly decent at scoring, but can rebound and play defense very well. Other than that they appear to have more weaknesses than strengths.
-11. CENTRAL ARKANSAS. This is the first year in div1 for the Bears. They do have four starters coming back so it isnt as if theyll be completely lost, but this is never an easy transition. Forward LaMar Phillips and guard Joey Cortez both averaged in double figures last season and will need to step up this year in order for this team to compete.
-12. TEXAS STATE. The Bobcats won just three games a season ago. They have three starters coming back and a fairly talented forward in Charles Dotson (11.8ppg, 6.0rpg), but other than that are lacking in just about every aspect. Guard Jushay Rocket will likely be a contributor as well, but expect the Bobcats to end up toward the bottom of the league once again.
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. Nicholls State
2. Northwestern State
3. Texas San Antonio
4. Texas State
5. Texas Arlington
6. Sam Houston State
7. Texas A&M Corpus Christi
8. Stephen F. Austin
9. Southeast Louisiana
10. McNeese State
12. Central Arkansas
-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.