Monday, October 31, 2011

TWC Preview: Exhibition To Work Out

Seeing as there are a minimum of 32 games ahead on the schedule and hopefully up to 40 games, this will not be an in-depth preview. It's only an exhibition game, and The Citadel hammered Tennessee Wesleyan by 29 points over the weekend. The Mocs should do something similar.

But this is going to be an interesting game. Omar Wattad may not play due to his sore back, though it is apparently not too serious and he might have played if this game counted. But we don't need to see Wattad, Keegan Bell, Chris Early, or Ricky Taylor. We need to see the new guys and how they can be integrated into the offense.

So, instead of picks and analysis, let's look at the things I'm interested in seeing.


--Zlovaric. Can he be an overpowering force on the inside?
--Can the Mocs pound the ball inside? Shulman says this is a focus this year. If the Mocs can't get the ball inside against TWC, who can they get the ball inside against?
--Mason- let's see what he's got.
--The freshman- who is ready to go? Who is not? Who should redshirt? Who shouldn't?
--How does Bell look now that he is in "the best shape of his life?"

So we'll see. I'm looking forward to it. It's time for the Mocs to get this party started.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Features on MocsMania in 2011-12!

As we prepare for the 2011-12 Mocs basketball season, I have spent a lot of the offseason trying to think up ways to improve this blog and make it more enjoyable for everyone who reads it. It's easy for me to post opinions on what is going on, and even to hit the news of what's going on. But that doesn't seem to be enough.

So, I am trying to add some distinguishing features that will help to add something to the experience of being a Mocs fan. Without further ado, let's talk about the new features.

--More statistical analysis. These stats will be provided after every game. Want to know how the Mocs performed in the Four Factors? What about how each Moc is performing using the ESPN Player Rater formula? (Pts + Reb + 1.4*Ast + Stl + 1.4*Blk -.7*TO + FGM + .5*TGM -.8*(FGA-FGM) + .25*FTM - .8*(FTA-FTM)) After each game, I will provide each of these stats which will give even more reason for the Mocs wins and losses, and help to define which Mocs players are performing the best.

--Scanning the SoCon. I have arranged with four fans of different schools around the SoCon to answer some questions each Sunday regarding the previous week of the SoCon and looking forward to the future week. This will be published each Sunday on each of the different blogs and message boards that these fans represent. I am very excited about this development, personally. I think it will provide a lot of extra coverage to the SoCon. That will begin next Sunday (less than a week before the first game for every team in the conference, outside of the Mocs, who open a week from Sunday). The four teams represented will be the Mocs, UNC-Greensboro, Davidson, and The Citadel- two from the North and two from the South. There will be weekly questions, and weekly power rankings voted on by the four.

--Sagarin's Ratings. While RPI Rankings, and KenPom's rankings were listed on the blog last year. Sagarin was not on here. However, now his rankings will be included as well to provide an extra piece to the blog.

--Double Dribbles. Last spring in the weeks leading up to the SoCon Tourney, I included a feature called "Three Poing Play." Now, that has been turned into a daily feature called "Double Dribbles." We will have two notes on SoCon teams each day, Monday through Friday. This could be about the Mocs, or any other SoCon team. Hopefully, this too will help to provide even more coverage of the SoCon for all fans around the conference. This will begin on Monday, November 7.

Obviously, all the old feature will still be included. We will still have preview of each game and reviews of each game, along with the Heat-O-Meter monthly, a monthly review, a monthly preview, every other week we will look at the out of conference opponents and see how they are performing, the Battle of North vs. South, and have a preview of the SoCon Monster Game of the Week.

That means that this blog will be providing some solid coverage of the SoCon on a daily basis, some significant coverage on a weekly basis, and hopefully continue to provide as much coverage as possible of Mocs basketball, while adding some elements of statistical analysis to help us in analyzing the games.

Should be a great year and we can't wait! Should at least be a tremendous amount of fun. Hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

SoCon Media Poll

The Media poll is now out. The Mocs were picked to win the North, and the standings were the same in the North Division as the Coaches Poll. The South was slightly different. Georgia Southern was picked to finish fifth, while Wofford was third and Furman was fourth.

Georgia Southern actually got a first place vote, along with Wofford. The Terriers are more surprising to me than the Eagles, even though Wofford is the two time reigning champ. Georgia Southern is a good basketball team this year. Wofford is still the two time reigning champs, so until they are out of the race, they have to be considered a threat. They'll be an even bigger threat come the SoCon Tournament.

Basketball season is coming. The excitement is getting tangible now.

North DivisionTeam (1st Place Votes) Total
1. Chattanooga (24) 172
2. Appalachian State (3) 136
3. Western Carolina (2) 123
4. UNCG (1) 90
5. Elon 76
6. Samford 36

South Division
Team (1st Place Votes) Total
1. Davidson (18) 165      
2. College of Charleston (10) 156
3. Wofford (1) 105
4. Furman 80
5. Georgia Southern (1) 76
6. The Citadel 48

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SoCon Coaches Speak Out

The SoCon Coaches have spoken- and you have to like what they said if you are a Mocs fan. The Mocs were the favorite to the win the North, with Appalachian State second, Western Carolina third, UNC-Greensboro fourth, Elon fifth, and Samford was last. Omar Wattad and Keegan Bell were pegged for the All-SoCon team. This is all really positive stuff for the Mocs.

We all know that preseason predictions mean next to nothing, but still, this puts a little bit of extra pressure on the Mocs this year. That may not be such a bad thing. With expectations comes the bullseye, and the Mocs I think are ready to wear that bullseye.

We'll find out in two and a half weeks when the Mocs head to Bloomington. I'm ready....

SoCon Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish

North Division

Team (1st Place Votes) Total
1. Chattanooga (9) 64
2. Appalachian State (2) 51
3. Western Carolina (1) 44
4. UNCG 42
5. Elon 29
6. Samford 16

Team (1st Place Votes) Total
South Division
1. Davidson (10) 65
2. College of Charleston (2) 56
3. Georgia Southern 42
4. Furman 34
5. Wofford 32
6. The Citadel 17

2011-12 Preseason All-Conference Team
Keegan Bell, Chattanooga
Omar Carter, Appalachian State
Jake Cohen, Davidson
JP Kuhlman, Davidson
Willie Powers III, Georgia Southern
Drew Spradlin, Elon
Trey Sumler, Western Carolina
Omar Wattad, Chattanooga
Trent Wiedeman, College of Charleston
Antwaine Wiggins, College of Charleston

2011-12 Preseason Player of the Year
Omar Carter, Appalachian State

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oh Captain, My Captain!

The Mocs have named four captains this year. Keegan Bell, Ricky Taylor, Chris Early, and Dontay Hampton have been named captains on this year's squad. Bell and Taylor are not too surprsing.

However, I'm a little surprised by a couple of things here:

1) Wattad not being named a captain. He is the player that is gaining Player of the Year traction. Normally, we think that means team leader. People must not see it that way. This is why I continue to say that Bell is really the MVP on this team.

2) Early is a captain. He has struggled at times, and been in and out of Shulman's doghouse. Now, he is seen as one of the biggest leaders on this team. This is potentially a really nice touch.

3) Hampton being a captain. He is a walk-on. And now he is a captain. This could show what tremendous leadership skills Hampton has as a person. A walk-on becoming a captain can not be an easy thing. Let's face it- if nothing else, this speaks very well for his future in the work force. I am very proud of Hampton.

Captains are important, of course. They are the players that the guys look to when the times get tough, or when they need to go the extra mile. This team needs strong leaders. We're all hoping that Early, Hampton, Taylor, and Bell can provide that leadership.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Shulman Gets It? Or Have I Been Wrong All Along?

"Do I want Keegan and Omar to shoot the ball? That's no doubt...can they shoot it? No doubt. But they are going to get much better shots later in the shot clock than the ones we were taking. You shoot it quick, you have to defend longer. We got worn out defending. Time of possession is not a stat in basketball, it should be. Throwing the ball inside in basketball is the equivalent to running the football. We never ran the ball last year. We have to establish our running game which is throwing the ball inside."

This is a quote from Shulman.

If you asked me a question like that, then I would pretty much have said the same thing. This is something that I have said many times. I said a lot of times that the Mocs needed to shoot more two pointers than three pointers, and they did not shoot enough twos. They needed to pound the ball inside to Jefferson and Saffore, and even Early, to get more easy looks and more free throws.

Yet, the Mocs didn't do it nearly often enough for my preference.

But what were the problems? Well, everyone knows them by now. Jefferson struggled to catch the ball down low- and Saffore really struggled catching the ball (not to mention getting his arms over his head).

Now, with Mason, Zlovaric, Early, and the freshman give the Mocs plenty of inside options. Bell has always been an excellent passer. If he can get the ball inside to those guys, then this team could be completely different. It sounds like the Mocs are going to play that way this year.

So is this what Shulman has always wanted? Is this what his plan has always been, but he just hasn't had the inside presence to accomplish it? Now that he has the players, we may see a completely different style out of Shulman this year.

The key will be their offensive contributions. Doaks and Hartwell were a decent inside presence, but Hartwell was not much of an inside presence. If Mason, Zlovaric, and Early can play inside offensively, and if Taylor, Bell, and Wattad can continue to light it up from outside, then the Mocs could be special offensively.

The Mocs players (especially Wattad and Bell) have lost a lot of weight and everyone has been dedicated to getting into excellent shape. This team could be really special.

I am very excited about finding out how this team will perform. Indiana and Butler will lead off the season, which is going to be tough. Let's hope the Mocs can keep them entertaining...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Mocs Announce Schedule for 2011-12

Let's put the schedule out there.

November 1 Tennessee Wesleyan 7:00 (exhibition)
November 13 at Indiana 5:00 (Hoosier Classic)
November 15 at Butler 7:00 (Hoosier Classic)
November 19 Kennesaw State 7:00
November 21 Warren Wilson College 7:00
November 25 Savannah State 7:00 (Hoosier Classic)
November 27 Gardner-Webb 7:00 (Hoosier Classic)
December 1 at Georgia Southern 7:00
December 3 at College of Charleston 4:00
December 10 at Mercer 7:00
December 13 Spalding 7:00
December 17 at Kentucky 8:00
December 21 Hiwassee 12:00
December 29 Longwood 7:00 (Dr Pepper Classic)
December 30 Hampton/Utah Valley State 4:30/7:00 (Dr Pepper Classic)
January 2 at Tennessee TBA
January 5 Western Carolina 7:00
January 7 Appalachian State 7:00
January 12 Wofford 7:00
January 14 at Samford 4:00
January 19 at UNC-Greensboro 7:00
January 21 at Elon 7:00
January 26 Davidson 7:00
January 28 Georgia Southern 7:30
February 2 at Western Carolina 7:00
February 4 at Davidson 4:00
February 9 Elon 7:00
February 11 UNC-Greensboro 7:30
February 15 at Appalachian State 7:00
February 18 The Citadel 7:00
February 23 at Furman 7:00
February 25 Samford 7:30
March 2-5 SoCon Tournament (at Asheville) TBA

The out of conference schedule leaves something to desire, particularly the home schedule.

A schedule featuring Kennesaw State, Warren Wilson, Savannah State, Gardner-Webb, Spalding, Hiwassee, Longwood and either Hampton or Utah Valley does not exactly sell a ton of tickets.

That being said, the Mocs play 17 home games this year, which matches the most the Mocs have ever played. The Mocs could put up a good mark just by winning their home games.

This year, more than ever, they critically need to protect their home floor.

The Mocs have a real shot to get to 20 wins this year. Think about it- even with losing to the big four (Indiana, Butler, Kentucky, and Tennessee) and one more (maybe Mercer? Kennesaw State? Hampton?), the Mocs would win 8 games out of conference. Follow that up with the SoCon schedule, and say that the Mocs match last year's mark (even though they probably should be better) of 12-6, and the Mocs go 20-11. That is far from an outlandish prediction.

The Mocs should have some really high hopes here....

There is plenty of skepticism, which is to be expected. But the Mocs can put a big winner on the floor this year. Now they just have to go do it.

The expectations are there- and the Mocs need to deliver with consistent effort throughout the year.

The toughest game is at Kentucky, but Butler, Indiana, and Tennessee all will be breaking in new faces. The Mocs could surprise one of them easily.

The magic carpet ride is coming...I'm ready for it...