2009-10 Conference Primers: #27 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 9th, 2009

seasonpreviewJC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the MEAC and SWAC conferences. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Alabama State (20-9)
  2. Jackson State (16-13)
  3. Alabama A&M (15-11)
  4. Prairie View (13-16)
  5. Mississippi Valley State (13-18)
  6. Alcorn State (10-19)
  7. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (10-19)
  8. Texas Southern (9-20)
  9. Grambling State (5-21)
  10. Southern (5-26)

All-Conference Team:

  • Christopher Jones (G) – Prairie View – Purest point guard in the SWAC, but will have to reduce his turnovers for the Panthers to be successful this season.
  • Troy Jackson (G) – Alcorn State – Ruthless scorer who also shot better than 40 percent from the field in 08-09.
  • Grant Maxey (F) – Jackson State – Versatile forward will likely emerge as the 09-10 SWAC Player of the Year
  • Douglas Scott (F) – Southern – Tenacious rebounder, came on late last season with three double-doubles in his last five games.
  • Darnell Hugee (C) – Prairie View – If he stays out of foul trouble, could be one of the best post players in Division I basketball.

6th Man. Deandre Hall (G) – Texas Southern – Turnover prone, but can do damage from interior and perimeter.

swac logo

What You Need to Know.  The SWAC is among the worst conferences in all of Division I basketball. There’s no sugarcoating the lack of talent and the brutal out-of-conference schedules that the SWAC member schools play just to keep their athletic budgets afloat. But what they are lacking in appeal and talent, their upper-echelon teams make up for in competitive drive and great coaching. Alabama State took SEC opponents Auburn and Mississippi to the wire on the road last season before dropping both games by fewer than five points.

Predicted ChampionJackson State (NCAA Seed: #16). Jackson State has played second fiddle to Alabama State in the regular season for two years in a row. But while the Tigers return key seniors Grant Maxey and Garrison Johnson, the Hornets of ASU lost a lot in the departure of PG Brandon Brooks and forward Andrew Hayles. The JSU Tigers will prevail in the conference championship, but not without serious tests from the likes of Prairie View and Alabama State.

Top Contenders:

  • Prairie View A&M – The Panthers return one of the best point guards in the conference in Christopher Jones and the best post player in Darnell Hugee. But they are both prone to mistakes on the floor, and that should hinder PVAM’s ability to win close games.
  • Alabama A&M – The Bulldogs last won the SWAC crown in 2005, but have the conference’s best coach in Vann Pettaway. They just don’t have enough talent in their starting five or on the bench to keep up with the other top teams in the SWAC.

RPI Boosters:

  • Nov. 21, 2009 – Alabama State at Belmont – This appears to be the most winnable game for the SWAC’s out-of-conference competition. And that’s not saying a lot.

Key Conference Games:

  • Jan. 4, 2010 – Alabama A&M at Jackson State – This will be the Bulldogs’ first opportunity to prove they are a legitimate championship contender against the loaded JSU Tigers.
  • Jan. 6, 2010 – Alabama State at Jackson State – The first rematch of the 2009 SWAC Basketball Championship game.
  • Jan. 25, 2010 – Mississippi Valley State at Prairie View – These two teams will likely be fighting for the fourth and fifth seeds in the tournament, and could be a tournament opening-round preview.

Digging Deeper.  Truth be told – the SWAC is more of a football-heavy conference. Think of it as the SEC amongst historically black colleges and universities. Football is such a big deal in the SWAC that the conference annually leads the nation in FCS football attendance rankings.

Fun With KenPom.  There’s not a lot good to say here.  The offenses are largely terrible, with eight of last year’s ten teams ranking in the bottom fifty in the nation.  Defense isn’t appreciably better, but it is better in the SWAC, as only six teams ranked in the bottom fifty.

NCAA Tournament History.  The SWAC is 4-29 (.121) in its history, but most of the wins were clustered among its first few years in D1.  Since 1985, the league has had only one win (Southern over Georgia Tech in 1993).

Final Thoughts.  Keep your eyes on Alabama State, Jackson State and Prarie View A&M. Any other teams just won’t offer the level of good, competitive play that you expect from Division I programs.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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