Checking in on the… SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC conferences.

In case you hadn’t heard, the SWAC is probably the worst Division I conference in America. March Madness usually equates to regional sadness for their conference champion, as a season of hard work, long bus trips and endless hours of practice culminates with the 64th overall seed in the national tournament.

But don’t let that stop you from keeping up with SWAC and its member schools. After all, you’ll impress your friends come March when you give them five keys North Carolina better watch out for in their opening-round tournament game.

THIS WEEK

The SWAC is a combined 1-19 thus far. The sole win was a Prairie View A&M victory over Champion Baptist College, a powerhouse independent who earned third place in the 2007 Association of Christian College Athletics championship. As for notable power conference opponents who rolled over SWAC competition and cut the check, UCLA, Arizona State, Oklahoma, LSU and Colorado are just a few.

WHAT’S HELPING

  • Seven out of the ten SWAC teams are averaging more than four made three-pointers per game. If that trend continues, you can look for the SWAC to be more than a cakewalk in the national tournament.
  • Seven teams are also defending the perimeter well, allowing less than 40 percent from the arc. They may give up a lot in the paint, but SWAC teams are proving athletic and energetic at the guard and small forward positions.

WHATS HURTING

  • Jackson State as a team is averaging better than 81 percent from the free throw line. The next best charity stripe team percentage is 65 percent. Ouch.
  • Two teams in the SWAC have played at least four games so far. Prairie View’s average margin of defeat is a single point, while 2007 SWAC champion Mississippi Valley State is losing by an average of 29 points per game. Talk about disparity.

WHATS NEXT?

Here are a few of the upcoming key match-ups for SWAC teams. And by key match-ups, we mean guaranteed games that will seem degrading at the final buzzer, but will go along way in  preparation for regular season competition.

  • Jackson State @ Texas A&M – Friday, Nov. 21 – It’s likely you haven’t heard of Grant Maxey, but if you want to see a potential 2010 free agent steal, this is the guy you want to watch. Tough in the paint, reliable on the perimeter, and a solid defender, Maxey is likely a Player of the Year candidate in the SWAC. In his opening game against LSU, he tallied 13 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of work. More impressively, he only collected two fouls on the night.
  • Alabama A&M @ Alabama – Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Bulldog freshman forward Casey Cantey is one to watch in this game. On a roster with heavy production from its guards, the Demopolis, AL, native finished his debut with 11 points and eight rebounds. At 6’5″, he can likely be the Bulldogs most versatile defender and a great second scoring option to junior guard Trant Simpson, who scored 23 in the season opener against Oakwood College.
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After the Buzzer: UCLA’s Fab Five Debut

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2008

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Story of the Night.  UCLA’s freshman class.  Last year’s freshman class arguably boasted the best player in the country in Kevin Love, but this year’s version, while lacking in equivalent star power, may more than compensate for Love’s loss with its depth and diversity of skills.  Jrue Holiday was the only rookie starter tonight in UCLA’s win against Prairie View A&M, but his four classmates (Drew Gordon, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson and J’Mison Morgan) each came off the bench and contributed aplenty.  The quintet accounted for 41% of the minutes, 44% of the points, 44% of the rebounds and 43% of the assists tonight in the 82-58 win.  Ok, and 54% of the turnovers, but still, not a bad start for this freshman class of Bruins.  As for the game itself, it appears that UCLA still knows how to rebound (41-18) and the defense is still stingy – Prairie View was held to a mere 23% shooting in the first half; the fact that they shot 42% for the game indicates that either UCLA lost focus in the second half or Prairie View settled down – we’re leaning toward the former as an explanation.  Darren Collison led the way as he hit five threes en route to a 19/3/4 asst night.  The Bruins will play Miami (OH) tomorrow night in the second round of the CvC in a game that should combine for about 50 total pts.  Once again, ESPN isn’t allowing embedded videos so we’ll have to settle for linked highlights

Other Games.  S. Illinois 80, UMass 73.  We thought this would be the best game of the night, and it looks like we were right, as S. Illinois got themselves down nine at halftime to UMass before storming back behind nine threes in the second half to pull away in the last few minutes to win another home game.  Bryan Mullins had a huge night for SIU, going for 16/13/4 stls for the home team, but Kevin Dillard’s four threes in the second half didn’t hurt.  UMass was led by Ricky Harris with 24/5, but the stat that jumped off the Minutemen’s page was starting PG Chris Lowe’s TEN turnovers (with zero assists).  Michigan 76, Northeastern 56.  Gotta admit that we thought this game had upset potential, and we couldn’t have been more wrong.  Michigan’s Manny Harris followed up his impressive season debut with nearly a trip-dub (26/10/8 assts), as UM held Northeastern to 29% shooting (17% from three) for the game.  UM Hoops points out that, if Michigan is going to threaten this year, they’ll need to shore up their work on the boards.  Northeastern grabbed twenty offensive rebounds tonight (amazingly, they only had 29 total boards), and with UCLA looming on the horizon next week in MSG (probably), the Wolverines will need to repair that deficiency.  Miami (OH) 70, Weber St. 66.  So in the other half of the Westwood bracket, Miami (OH) won a game on a three by Kenny Hayes (24 pts) with 1.7 seconds left on the clock, despite losing nearly every major statistical category in the game.  The Redhawks were outshot (by 10% FG), outrebounded (by 7), outassisted (by 3), and yet they still prevailed.  How?  Turnovers, kids.  Seven additional TOs by Weber St. gave Miami just enough extra possessions to sneak by.  Miami will play UCLA tomorrow night for the right to play at MSG, and we expect Charlie Coles to have something up his sleeve to make this game interesting for a while. 

On Tap Thursday (all times EST). 

  • UCLA (-15) v. Miami (OH) on ESPNU- 11pm
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