2009-10 Conference Primers: #13 – CAA

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2009

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Ryan Kish of George Mason Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Old Dominion (14-4)
  2. Northeastern (13-5)
  3. George Mason (12-6)
  4. Virginia Commonwealth (12-6)
  5. James Madison (11-7)
  6. Hofstra (10-8)
  7. Georgia State (9-9)
  8. Drexel (8-10)
  9. Delaware (6-12)
  10. Towson (5-13)
  11. UNC-Wilmington (5-13)
  12. William & Mary (3-15)

All-Conference Team:

  • Charles Jenkins (G), Hofstra
  • Matt Janning (G), Northeastern
  • Cam Long (G), George Mason
  • Gerald Lee (F), ODU
  • Larry Sanders (F), VCU

6th Man. Sherrod Wright, George Mason

Impact Newcomer. Rashanti Harris, Georgia State

caa logoWhat You Need to Know:

  • The CAA returns 73 percent of last year’s starters (44 of 60).
  • Last season the CAA sent five teams to the postseason.
  • Fifteen of the league’s top twenty scorers return.
  • ESPN ranked George Mason’s recruiting class #1 amongst mid-majors.
  • Six teams finished with 18 or more wins last season.
  • VCU’s Larry Sanders already picking up nation preseason honors here, here, and here.

Predicted ChampionOld Dominion (NCAA Seed:  #9). The Monarchs return six players who made 13 or more starts last season, including All-CAA Gerald Lee, who is my vote for preseason POY.  Lee stepped up as a leader last season, especially late in the year at the CAA tournament. Along side Lee forward Frank Hassell gives them probably the best one-two punch frontcourt in the league. Guard Darius James is poised for a breakout season and was deadly from 3-pt land last year, so his growth could be the key to ODU being the league’s most balanced squad.  Add freshman stud Josh Hicks to the mix and you got a whole lot of talent walking into CAA arenas this season.  Will it be the right mix of talent and experience to run through the competitive CAA regular season?  Head coach Blaine Taylor has lived in the shadow of George Mason and VCU lately despite winning 119 games over the last five years. This is his best squad on paper since 2005.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #14 – West Coast

Posted by rtmsf on October 23rd, 2009

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Michael Vernetti is the RTC correspondent for the West Coast Conference.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Portland (11-3)
  2. Gonzaga (10-4)
  3. Saint Mary’s (8-6)
  4. San Diego (7-7)
  5. Santa Clara (6-8)
  6. Loyola Marymount (6-8)
  7. USF (5-9)
  8. Pepperdine (3-11)

All-Conference Team:

  • Matt Bouldin (G), Gonzaga
  • Kevin Foster (G), Santa Clara
  • Dior Lowhorn (F), USF
  • Kevin Young (F), Loyola
  • Omar Samhan (C), Saint Mary’s

6th man. Nik Raivio, Portland

Impact newcomer. Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s

wcc logoWhat You Need to Know.

  • Going International.  The 2010 season marks the WCC’s most pronounced bow to international athletes, with every team having at least two foreign-born players and two of the predicted top three finishers – Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s – pinning their season hopes on the performance of foreigners. Saint Mary’s gave the trend its biggest boost by establishing an Australian pipeline that produced Daniel Kickert, the Gaels’ all-time leading scorer, and Patty Mills, who opted for the NBA after two sensational seasons. The Gaels continue as the Koala’s best friend this year, with five Aussies expected to make contributions and one, freshman guard Matthew Dellavedova, looming as a potential star.  Gonzaga’s Pacific Northwest pipeline that supplied stars Adam Morrison, Dan Dickau and Blake Stepp, among others, may be temporarily clogged, but the Zags have turned to Canada (Manny Arop, Robert Sacre and Kelly Olynyk), Germany (Elias Harris), and Sudan by way of Canada (Bol Kong), to maintain their position atop the conference. USF joined the crowd in a big way this off-season, luring a Czech (Tomas Bruha), two Frenchmen (Moustapha Diarra, Nikola Stojiljkovic) and a Canadian (Perris Blackwell).
  • Room at the Top: Gonzaga, with nine WCC titles in a row, and Saint Mary’s, a perennial runner-up under Randy Bennett, have dominated the conference in recent years. But Gonzaga lost four of its main contributors from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team (Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo and Micah Downs) and Saint Mary’s said goodbye to Mills, all-time leading rebounder and shot-blocker Diamon Simpson, starting forward Ian O’Leary and a trio of valuable back-ups in Yusef Smith, Lucas Walker and Carlin Hughes. That’s why Portland, with all five starters back from last year’s 19-13 team that finished third in the conference, can’t wait to shove its way into the top spot. Santa Clara’s Kerry Keating and USF’s confident newcomer Rex Walters, entering his second year, have recruited aggressively and well, indicating that they, too, are up to challenging Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the next few years.
  • Multiple NCAA Bids: The conference was shocked last year when Saint Mary’s, 25-6 overall and second place in the conference behind Gonzaga, did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, leaving the Zags as the sole WCC entrant. Just the year before, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Diego received bids, the first time in anyone’s memory that three teams had gone to The Dance. Whether the conference elevates itself in the NCAA Selection Committee’s eyes in 2009-10 is one of the biggest question marks looming over the season.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #15 – MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2009

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Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Siena                15-3
  2. Niagara            14-4
  3. Rider                13-5
  4. Fairfield           12-6
  5. St.Peter’s          10-8
  6. Manhattan        9-9
  7. Iona                  8-10
  8. Loyola              7-11
  9. Canisius           6-12
  10. Marist             4-14

All-Conference:

  • Ryan Thompson (G/F), 6’6 Sr., Rider
  • Ronald Moore (G), 6’0 Sr., Siena
  • Tyrone Lewis (G), 5’11 Sr., Niagara
  • Edwin Ubiles (G/F), 6’6 Sr. , Siena
  • Ryan Rossiter (C), 6’9 Jr., Siena

6th Man: Owen Wignot (F), 6’6 So., Siena

Impact Newcomer: Rico Pickett (G), 6’4 Jr., Manhattan

maac logo

What you need to know.

  • The MAAC is a ten member conference that hosts games from cozy campus locales to public arenas as Madison Square Garden, Arena at Harbor Yards and Times-Union Center to name a few.
  • Once again the conference will host the Old Spice Classic. The eight team event is November 26 through 29 at the Milk House Arena located in the Walt Disney World Resort Complex. Iona represents the MAAC with Alabama, Baylor, Creighton, Florida State, Marquette, Michigan and Xavier rounding out an impressive field.
  • Rivalries are huge. The charter membership gave us two games in the classic ‘Battle of the Bronx’ with Manhattan and Fordham. Iona and Fordham also got the pulse beating quicker. Membership has altered over the years but rivalries, largely due to geography and tradition,  still are a big part of the MAAC. There’s Iona-Manhattan. Upstate is Niagara-Canisius, a ‘holy war’ from the old Little Three Days. Then there’s Marist-Siena. The latter has the upper hand of late but that’s another meeting where you throw the records out the window. Bragging rights are at stake.
  • Iona captured the first title in 1982 with an overtime victory over St.Peter’s. The semis and finals were at Meadowlands arena (now Izod Center) in East Rutherford, NJ.
  • Jeff Ruland did not play in the MAAC. The 1979-80 was his last in a Gael uniform but he is a part of MAAC history having returned to coach his alma mater and leading them to three MAAC championships.

Predicted Champion. Siena (NCAA #9). The Saints return four starters from a club that went to the second round and gave Louisville fits before exiting in a close contest. It was the second straight year the Saints earned a first round win in the NCAA Tournament.  The lone loss was 6’3 guard Kenny Hasbrouck. Beside being MAAC Player of the Year and a double digit scorer, Hasbrouck provided outstanding leadership and inspiration to Fran McCaffery’s club. Filling in his spot will be Clarence Jackson, a dangerous three point shooter who can create his own shot. Ronald Moore, an outstanding lead guard, triggers the attack. The Ryan Rossiter, Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin backcourt is hands down the conference’s best. McCaffery has a habit of scheduling higher level opponents, usually on the road. It’s paid off as the Saints are a confident, battle tested group. Come tournament time they enter a game planning to win not just hoping.  The mix of returning talent, recent success and proactive attitude make Siena the MAAC favorite.  Given their recent NCAA success and strength of schedule Siena could be a #6 or #7 seed if things go right.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #16 – Big West

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2009

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Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Big West Conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Long Beach State (13-3)
  2. UC Santa Barbara (12-4)
  3. UC Riverside (12-4)
  4. UC Davis (9-7)
  5. UC Irvine (9-7)
  6. Cal State Fullerton (7-9)
  7. Pacific (5-11)
  8. Cal Poly (3-13)
  9. Cal State Northridge (2-14)

All-Conference Team:

  • Mark Payne (G), UCD
  • Larry Anderson (G), LBSU
  • Joe Harden (F), UCD
  • Kyle Austin (F), UCR
  • Eric Wise (C), UCI

6th Man. Joe Ford (G), Pacific

Impact Newcomer. Michael Wilder (G), UCI

big west logo

eWhat You Need to Know.  The Big West consistently sends one representative to the NCAA Tournament, which is then soundly bounced from competition in the first round; but that shouldn’t take away from the fierce battle that’s being done within conference confines. The conference is riding a wave of improvement, witnessed by a recent flood of top-notch recruits and Cal State Northridge taking #2 Memphis to the wire in the first round of last season’s Tourney.  This season, there are shining stars waiting to break out, and most teams have scheduled challenging preseason opponents in a seemingly league-wide strategy to boost the conference’s profile. Long Beach State sophomore Larry Anderson and UC Riverside senior Kyle Austin have the combination of size and pro-level talent that give their teams the chance to beat anyone on any night. Tough schedules and big, athletic guards – does that make the Big West a conference with upset capabilities? No doubt.

Predicted ChampionLong Beach State (NCAA Seed:  #12).  The 49ers will be the popular pick to win the Big West regular season as well as conference tournament, due to an elevated talent level and difficult preseason schedule that will make the rest of the conference season seem like JV.  Because of that difficult preseason schedule – and therefore a favorable RPI – Long Beach State will likely be a trendy upset pick in the NCAA Tournament, especially if they can pull off an upset against Texas, Kentucky or Duke; on a national scale, however, they probably lack the firepower needed to advance to the second round. Only four seniors graduated from last year’s team that earned second place in the conference. The 49ers’ quartet of sophomores will lead the charge – with athletic sixth man Eugene Phelps, darting point guard Casper Ware, crafty forward T.J. Robinson and 2008-09 first-teamer Larry Anderson.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #17 – Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2009

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Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Oakland                          22-9        (16-2)
  2. Oral Roberts                  21-10     (15-3)
  3. South Dakota St.            18-11     (11-7)
  4. IUPUI                               17-14     (9-9)
  5. North Dakota St.           14-14     (8-10)
  6. Southern Utah                13-16     (8-10)
  7. Western Illinois             13-16     (6-12)
  8. IPFW                               11-18     (4-14)
  9. UMKC                             9-20        (4-14)
  10. Centenary                      6-23        (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • Johnathan Jones (G), Sr, Oakland
  • Garret Callahan (G), Sr, South Dakota St.
  • Dominique Morrison (F), Soph, Oral Roberts
  • Jon Avery (F), Sr, IUPUI
  • Keith Benson (C), Jr, Oakland

6th Man. Hunter McClintock (G), Fr,  Oral Roberts

Impact NewcomerLarry Wright (G), Jr, Oakland.   The junior transfer from St. John’s University, should have an immediate impact on the Summit League. Two years ago he led the Red Storm in three-point field goal percentage, and he should be the perfect replacement for Erik Kangas, The Oakland great who set the all-time single season mark last year with 145 threes. Wright’s long-range shooting could be the key to Oakland’s success.

summit league logoWhat You Need to Know. The Summit League is like the little engine that could. Every year, it produces a scrappy team that creates some hype in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Ben Woodside and his rag-tag boys from North Dakota State challenged the defending national champs (Kansas), and just came up short 84-74. This year’s Summit League has the potential to produce a similar Cinderella story, with teams like Oakland and Oral Roberts reloading with some really talented players. Watch out for Oral Roberts and their newcomer Damen Bell-Holter (Mr. Alaska 2007, top 50 center prospect on Scout.com) who has the potential to dominate the lesser big men in the conference. Defense is the key to winning the Summit League. Last years champ NDSU held their opponents to 69.1 points per game, and Oral Roberts, in their three straight championships from 2006-08, held their opponents to 62.0, 64.9, and 68.1 points per game.

Predicted ChampionOral Roberts (NCAA Seed: #14).  With all the questions about age and inexperience with the Golden Eagles, it seems that Scott Sutton has the answers with his experience and skill level as a coach. Give him talented players, and his team will always compete. If Oral Roberts clinches another Summit league title, it will be their fourth championship in five years. I think a tough non-conference schedule (at Wake Forest, Missouri, New Mexico, Louisville,and Stanford) will be a trial-by-fire, and help their young freshmen mature quickly. The tough schedule also will help the NCAA Selection Committee give them a more favorable seed, especially if they win a couple of those big games (best bets are at home against New Mexico and Missouri). A #14 seed in the Big Dance will give Oral Roberts the Cinderella tag. A first round win is not out of the question for a Scott Sutton-led ORU squad.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #18 – Southland

Posted by jstevrtc on October 19th, 2009

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Predicted Order of Finish:

East

  1.      Southeastern Louisiana (12-4)
  2.      Nicholls State (11-5)
  3.      Stephen F. Austin (10-6)
  4.      Northwestern State (7-9)
  5.      McNeese State (5-11)
  6.      Central Arkansas (4-12)

West

  1.      Sam Houston State (13-3)
  2.      Texas-San Antonio (11-5)
  3.      Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-6)
  4.      Texas-Arlington (9-7)
  5.      Lamar (7-9)
  6.      Texas State (6-10)

All-Conference Team:

  •    Marquez Haynes (G), Sr, Texas-Arlington
  •    Ashton Mitchell (G), Sr, Sam Houston State
  •    Anatoly Bose (F), Jr, Nicholls State
  •    Kevin Palmer (F), Sr, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  •    Corey Allmond (G), Sr, Sam Houston State

6th Man. Devin Gibson (G), Jr, Texas-San Antonio

Impact Newcomer. Rodney Jones (G), Jr, Southeastern Louisiana

What You Need To Know.  The Southland is comprised of twelve schools over three states (you can probably figure them out from the schools’ names).  The conventional wisdom says that the league is “West-heavy,” though we feel that’s giving Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State a little less credit than they deserve.  Stephen F. Austin was last year’s representative in the NCAA Tournament but they lost their two best players from last year (actually, the conference’s last two Players-Of-The-Year!), Josh Alexander and Matt Kingsley.  And, with transfers and new freshmen, half of their personnel are totally new.  Since the 1985 NCAA Tournament, the Southland’s tournament representatives have logged only two wins in the Big Dance, both by Northwestern State:  2001’s play-in game against Winthrop, and that thriller against #3-seed Iowa in 2006.

Predicted Champion.  Sam Houston State (NCAA Seed: #14).  Ashton Mitchell and Corey Allmond are a formidable guard combo who blend together seamlessly; Mitchell was 8th in the nation in assists (6.5 APG) last season and averaged 12.5 PPG as well, while Allmond is more than happy to accept those dimes from Mitchell as the leading returning scorer (15.3 PPG) on the team and ranking 4th in the conference in 3FG% (43.4).  Senior forward Preston Brown will see a rise in minutes and touches as the main inside scoring threat though he’ll be partnered with Gilberto Clavell, a promising junior college transfer.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #19 – MAC

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2009

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Rush the Court currently does not have a correspondent from the MAC so if you would like to represent the conference and educate the rest of us, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Predicted Order of Finish:

East

  1. Akron (12-4)
  2. Buffalo (11-5)
  3. Kent State (10-6)
  4. Bowling Green (9-7)
  5. Miami (OH) (8-8)
  6. Ohio (7-9)

West

  1. Ball State (8-8)
  2. Northern Illinois (7-9)
  3. Eastern Michigan (7-9)
  4. Central Michigan (6-10)
  5. Toledo (6-10)
  6. Western Michigan (5-11)

All-Conference Team:

  • David Kool (G), Sr, Western Michigan
  • Darion Anderson (G), Jr, Northern Illinois
  • Jarrod Jones (F), So, Ball State
  • Brandon Bowdry (F), Jr, Eastern Michigan
  • Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

6th Man. Brett McKnight (F), Jr, Akron

Impact Newcomer. Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

mac logo

What You Need to Know. To begin with this is the MAC not the MAAC. Sienadoesn’t play in this conference so if you came here expecting to see a preview for them you are in the wrong place (at least for a few days). This conference, the MAC, is ridiculously unbalanced. While none of the the teams in the MAC would be considered contenders for a national title there are four good teams in the East that might actually pique some interest when they played a decent BCS school as an “Upset Alert.” There isn’t a single team in the West you could say that about even if they were playing a cellar-dweller in any of the BCS conferences. In fact, last year the last-place team in the East (Ohio) would have been tied for first in the West. The winner of the automatic bid will almost definitely come from the East with Akron and Buffalo being the top contenders. The edge may go to the Zips who lose less of their championship team from last year (only Nate Linhart) and add a 7’0″ center in the middle with Zeke Marshall while the Bulls will not have Greg Gamble and Andy Robinson this year.

Predicted Champion.  Akron Zips (NCAA Seed: #13). Coming off a 20-win season and the MAC title/NCAA bid the Zips are loaded by MAC standards. The only significant player they lose is Linhart (the MAC tournament MVP), but the Zips should have more than enough to stay up at the top of the MAC with the McKnight brothers (Chris and Brett) leading the way. Even though Brett came off the bench last year, he still led the team in scoring and figures to do so again although I’m not sure if he will stay on the bench with Linhart’s departure. With the McKnights and Marshall controlling the inside, Daryl Roberts and his 39.6% from beyond the arc should get his fair share of quality looks. With so much returning talent, the key for the Zips will be how quickly Marshall adapts to the college game. Marshall, who FoxSports.com rated as the #13 impact freshman this upcoming season, could give the Zips something the MAC hasn’t seen in a long-time–a legitimate seven-foot center. His presence, even if tips the scales at a relatively svelte 218 lbs, could be just the boost that the Zips need to repeat in the MAC and scare some big-name school in the 1st round.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #20 – Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on October 17th, 2009

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Matt Poindexter is a regular RTC contributor.

Predicted Order of Finish:

East

  1. Western Kentucky (17-1)
  2. Troy (14-4)
  3. Middle Tennessee (11-7)
  4. Florida Atlantic (6-12)
  5. South Alabama (5-13)
  6. Florida International (2-16)

West

  1. North Texas (15-3)
  2. Denver (12-6)
  3. Arkansas-Little Rock (11-7)
  4. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-9)
  5. Louisiana-Monroe (8-10)
  6. Arkansas State (5-13)
  7. New Orleans (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • A.J. Slaughter (G) – Western Kentucky
  • Nate Rohnert (G) – Denver
  • Desmond Yates (F) – Middle Tennessee
  • Rudy Turner (F) – Louisiana-Monroe
  • Jeremy Evans (C) – Western Kentucky

6th Man: Brandon Hazzard (G) – Troy

Impact Newcomer: Isiah Thomas. Usually, this is where we pick out the best incoming freshman or transfer in the conference. But for the first time in a very long time, people are paying attention to a Sun Belt team in a month that is not March. One can’t be sure if Isiah’s hiring at FIU will be a huge boon for the conference in terms of exposure, or if his actions will make him a white elephant, but his impact will be unparalleled either way. As far as on the court, New Orleans guard Billy Humphrey, a transfer who averaged 12.2 PPG for Georgia before being dismissed from the team following a DUI, is the most proven and highest rated player to make a Sun Belt debut in 2009-10.

sun belt logo

What You Need to Know:

  • If you’re going to pick out guy to win Player of the Year, it has to be WKU’s A.J. Slaughter. He probably would have won the honors in 08-09, but his teammate Orlando Mendez-Valdez overshadowed him. Now that Mendez-Valdez has graduated, expect Slaughter to outshine everyone else in the Sun Belt.
  • For the past two years, Western Kentucky has been the team to beat in the Sun Belt. In 2008 and 2009, they won the conference tournament and went on to NCAA tournament upsets, beating a #5 seed each year in Drake and Illinois. If not for poor free throw shooting, the Hilltoppers very well could have claimed a victory over Gonzaga in last year’s tournament to go to the Sweet 16.
  • Isiah Thomas isn’t the only one who has moved out of a powerful program and into a Sun Belt coaching position.  John Brady, coach at LSU during their 2006 Final Four run, is now at Arkansas State and Mike Jarvis helmed the St. John’s program prior to his current job at Florida Atlantic. North Texas’ Johnny Jones was the last coach (for one season) at Memphis before some guy named Calipari took over.

Predicted Champion. Western Kentucky (NCAA Seed:  #11). Since North Texas made a run and won the conference tournament in 2007, it has been WKU all the way in the Sun Belt. Even though conference Player of the Year Mendez-Valdez is no longer with the Hilltoppers, the return of guard A.J. Slaughter should mean that the conference championship trophy stays in Bowling Green for another year. Couple that with the increased inside presence of WKU center Jeremy Evans and the fact that they return 4 starters from last year, and there’s no reason to bet against the Hilltoppers.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #21 – America East

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

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Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League and America East Conference. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Boston University  (13-3)
  2. Stony Brook  (11-5)
  3. Vermont  (10-6)
  4. Albany  (10-6)
  5. New Hampshire  (8-8)
  6. UMBC  (7-9)
  7. Hartford  (6-10)
  8. Maine  (5-11)
  9. Binghamton  (2-14)

All-Conference Team:

  • Corey Lowe (G), Sr., Boston U.
  • Joe Zeglinski (G), Jr., Hartford
  • Marqus Blakely (F), Sr., Vermont
  • John Holland (F), Jr., Boston U.
  • Will Harris (F), Sr., Albany

6th Man. Muhammad El-Amin (G), Sr., Stony Brook

Impact Newcomer. Luke Apfeld (F), Fr., Vermont

am east logo

What You Need to Know.  This offseason has been a rocky one for reigning America East champion Binghamton to say the least.  The Bearcats went through one of the biggest roster changeovers due to disciplinary reasons in history of NCAA basketball.  They are returning only four players as nine from last year are now gone. Out of those nine players, six were dismissed for disciplinary reasons including three starters and two all conference selections. Talk about a rough offseason for Binghamton fans. The latest blow (probably not a blow after how much trouble he got this program into) is that Coach Kevin Broadus has been placed on paid leave and assistant coach Mark Macon will take over in the interim. My humble opinion is that Coach Broadus will never be back.  The school will try to work out some type of settlement and they will ultimately part ways. It is crazy to think that Broadus could stay with the program after all the public relations damage already inflicted. Mark Macon is going to have a tough first season to say the least. This team should not be expected to win more than two or three conference games, which is even a stretch.  In other news, Boston University fired Coach Dennis Wolff, the all time leader in wins for the BU program, after 15 years. They hired Villanova assistant Patrick Chambers to lead the Terriers back to the top. With the roster he walked into, Chambers has it easier than most first time coaches. This season Vermont’s Marqus Blakely is going for his third consecutive America East Player of the Year award which would put him in the select company of only two others in history, Reggie Lewis of Northeastern and Taylor Coppenrath of Vermont. Blakely also has a shot at his third straight America East Defensive Player of the Year, which would be unprecedented.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #22 – Big Sky

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2009

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Glenn Junkert of GrizzlyJournal.com is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky Conference. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Weber State (22-9, 12-4)
  2. Montana (20-8, 11-5)
  3. Montana State (16-12, 11-5)
  4. Idaho State (13-16, 10-6)
  5. Portland State (14-15, 9-7)
  6. Northern Arizona (11-17, 8-8)
  7. Northern Colorado (12-18, 5-11)
  8. Eastern Washington (8-21, 3-13)
  9. Sacramento State (7-22, 3-13)

All-Conference First Team:

  • Anthony Johnson, Montana
  • Damian Lilliard, Weber State
  • Steve Panos, Weber State
  • Phil Nelson, Portland State
  • Bobby Howard, Montana State

All-Conference Second Team:

  • Amorrow Morgan, Idaho State
  • Will Bynum, Montana State
  • Dominic Waters, Portland State
  • Brandon Moore, Eastern Washington
  • Shane Johannssen, Northern Arizona

MVP: Anthony Johnson, Montana

Impact Newcomers:

  • Franklin Session, Weber State
  • Eric Platt, Northern Arizona
  • Raason Young, Montana

big sky logo

What You Need to Know.  Last year Weber State senior point guard Kellen McCoy earned his Big Sky MVP medal by shaping his young teammates into a cohesive unit early. The Wildcats shrugged off a home court loss to Montana State and promptly forged a commanding conference lead with a league-wide road sweep, a rare feat in the Big Sky, though three other stellar guards — Montana’s Anthony Johnson, Montana State’s Will Bynum, and McCoy’s teammate, frosh Damian Lilliard — had second-half performances equal to McCoy’s, the Wildcat senior was a shoo-in for directing his cats to a rare 15-1 record in league play.

Predicted ChampionWeber State (NCAA Seed: #14). Weber State basketball IS coach Randy Rahe, and what Rahe has done best in four years at WSU is: 1) Recruit a balanced combo of quality junior college and freshman talent; and, 2) Demand the utmost in ensemble discipline and teamwork from his players on the court. The result? Deuces wild: two league titles and two “coach of the year” awards in his four years at WSU. The Wildcats graduated seniors Kellen McCoy and Daivin Davis, but Rahe will rely on the leadership of sophomore guard Lilliard, who’s expected to get support from highly regarded JC transfer Franklin Session. Otherwise, Rahe’s stellar coaching should be enough to earn the Cats a second straight league title.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #23 – Big South

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2009

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Mark Bryant, the Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Radford (14-4)
  2. UNC Asheville (12-6)
  3. Winthrop (12-6)
  4. Gardner-Webb (10-8)
  5. VMI (9-9)
  6. High Point (9-9)
  7. Liberty (8-10)
  8. Coastal Carolina (7-11)
  9. Charleston Southern (6-12)
  10. Presbyterian College (3-15)

 All-Conference Team:

  • Jamarco Warren (G), Jr., Charleston Southern
  • Grayson Flittner (G), Sr., Gardner-Webb
  • Joseph Harris (F), R-Sr., Coastal Carolina
  • Joey Lynch-Flohr (F), Sr., Radford
  • Art Parakhouski (C), Sr., Radford

6th Man. Nick Barbour (G), Soph, High Point 

Impact Newcomer.  Lazar Trifunovic (F), Jr., Radford (transfer from Binghamton)

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What You Need to Know.  Ask any of the Big South coaches right now who’s on top and the answer you’ll get is Radford.  The Highlanders are the preseason favorite for the first time in a decade with good reason: the defending conference champs (regular season and tournament winners) still have their skilled twin towers combination of 6-8 Joey Lynch-Flohr and 6-11 Art Parakhouski.  RU center and dominant force Parakhouski in particular has the size, strength, and game needed to dominate the opposition (for perspective, last year he averaged a double-double against Big East and ACC competition), playing his way into Player of the Year honors last season and the Preseason POY award for this year.  Beyond Radford, the race should be very tight among a few schools with questions to answer: Asheville – can the Bulldogs win away from the Justice Center this year (11-3 home, 4-13 on the road a year ago); Winthrop – can the Eagles return to their once-familiar position of dominance in the Big South with 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Mantoris Robinson now as the unquestioned team leader; and Gardner-Webb – can the Runnin’ Bulldogs and playmaker Grayson Flittner iron out some consistency so that they turn their big wins into streaks?  Meanwhile, two recent contenders will definitely be rebuilding:  VMI – where Coach Duggar Baucom no longer has the Holmes twins to rely on in his rapid-fire scheme; and Liberty –where star player Seth Curry and Coach Ritchie McKay both departed Lynchburg, leaving new Coach Dale Layer to get the Flames burning again.  High Point should fit in around where VMI and Liberty fall in the standings, with Coastal Carolina in that mix as well, while Charleston Southern is likely to trail that group despite the sharpshooting of Jamarco WarrenPresbyterian College remains ineligible for a championship as the transition to D1 continues, but PC doesn’t have the tools to contend yet in any case,  so look for the Blue Hose at the bottom of the standings.

Predicted ChampionRadford Highlanders (NCAA Seed:  #15).  Last year RU passed early front-runner VMI in the regular season and then knocked the Keydets out in the Big South Championship.  The reward for the Highlanders? A #16 seed and a lethal draw against eventual National Champion North Carolina (an experience Parakhouski describes as “short, but amazing”).  This season Radford should draw a little more attention and could easily play into a #15 spot, which opens the possibility of getting a potentially favorable match-up down low given the size RU can bring to the post.  With that, it’s not out of line to think the Big South could see a first round win for the first time since Winthrop’s memorable upset of Notre Dame in 2007.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #24 – Ohio Valley

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2009

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James D. Horne is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.  He covers Austin Peay for The Leaf-Chronicle and co-hosts The Afternoon Blitz from 4-6 p.m. on AM 540 in Clarksville, TN.  Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Morehead State (13-5)
  2. Murray State (13-5)
  3. Austin Peay (12-6)
  4. Eastern Kentucky (10-8)
  5. Eastern Illinois (9-9)
  6. Jacksonville State (9-9)
  7. Tennessee Tech (8-10)
  8. UT Martin (6-12)
  9. Tennessee State (4-14)
  10. Southeast Missouri State (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • Wes Channels (G), Austin Peay, 6’3, 210, Sr, 16.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 71 3-pts
  • Romain Martin (G), Eastern Illinois, 6’3, 185, Sr, 15.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 74 3-pointers
  • Maze Stallworth (F), Morehead State, 6’4, 215, Sr, 12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 38.0 3-pt%
  • Danero Thomas (F), Murray State, 6’4, 190, Sr, 12.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 spg, 41.8 FG%
  • Kenneth Faried (C), Morehead State, 6’8 215 Jr, 13.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 56.0 FG%

6th Man. Anthony Campbell (F), Austin Peay, 6’6, 185, So, 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 50.0 FG%

Breakout Player.  Ivan Aska (F), Murray State, 6’7, 230, So, 10.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 51.6 FG%

Coach of the Year. Donnie Tyndall, Morehead State

Player of the Year. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State

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What You Need to Know:

  • The OVC loves its basketball as much as the ACC, Big 12 and Big East do; they just play on a much smaller scale.
  • The OVC is the eighth-oldest NCAA Division I conference and expanded in 2008 with the addition of SIU-Edwardsville.
  • This year the most dominant player in the league will be Morehead State junior center Kenneth Faried, a big man who could play in any league, and whose coach, Donnie Tyndall, is building a power on the footsteps of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Murray State and Austin Peay just may have the fiercest rivalry in all of college basketball, at least those not in a power conference, and have been at the top of the league for over a decade.  Senior guard Wes Channels will lead the Govs and senior forward Danero Thomas leads the Racers.

Predicted ChampionMurray State (NCAA Seed: #16).  The Racers have been on the verge of returning to their perch in the OVC and this should be the year they get back. But if they don’t in Billy Kennedy’s fourth season a change could be made.

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