Friday, November 30, 2012

Scanning the SoCon Rapid Response: CofC Moves to the CAA

This is a special report from Scanning the SoCon. When the announcement came down that College of Charleston was leaving for the CAA, it may not have come as much of a surprise, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to respond to. There is. Several of your regular Scanning the SoCon bloggers sounded off.

Appalachian State- I don't blame Charleston for wanting to move. They were always a bit of an outsider in the SoCon. It's clear that besides Davidson and UNCG, the rest of the SoCon is a football-first conference. In the CAA they will have more like-minded schools and with the NBC Sports Network deal, a TV platform to expand their base. The CofC administrators want to expand their name recognition to the Northeast and they weren't getting that anytime soon in the SoCon. Plus after their AD publicly eviscerated the SoCon at their last BOT meeting, there was no turning back.

It's no secret that ASU and GSU are wanting to join an FBS conference, most likely the Sun Belt, in the very near future. In a sense, they are looking to do exactly what CofC is doing, and that's using their front-porch sport to try to maximize their revenue. Davidson made their coach to remain in the SoCon and for them, it was probably the right choice as the mission of their school is vastly different than CofC.

At this point in the realignment game, everything is moving at a 100 MPH so the landscape can change so quickly. The SoCon could be vastly different in the very near future. The trickle-down effect was inevitable and now it's time for Iamarino to make some decisions. Based on the past rep of the SoCon, it'll be reactionary rather than proactive. Does the SoCon go after a non-football school to keep the number the same? Do they go ahead and add more football schools to offset the potential future losses? They've known this was a possibility since the summer so to be flat-footed now would show a complete failure of leadership.

As far as ASU goes, everyone's being politically correct and not letting leaks get out. The university stance is to join FBS when possible. That's been known since September 2011. Cobb has said he's been "burning up phone lines" as I'm sure the folks at GSU are doing. Fans are on pins and needles as one would expect.

Overall I wish CofC the best of luck in the CAA. Maybe they can finally win a hoops tournament there.

Chattanooga- I know that College of Charleston is making a good decision for basketball, and I know that there is a general consensus out there that the SoCon should just let them go and we’ll be fine. I don’t buy that. The Cougars were one of the better teams year in, year out in the SoCon. They were a very good team that never was able to win the SoCon Tournament (OK- they won it once, which is very disappointing for a school that was as successful during the regular season as the Cougars was). They came up with several good out of conference wins for the SoCon annually.

The SoCon hopefully has done some planning for this. I am extremely curious to see how they respond to this. No- not respond with an official response, like they did Friday afternoon. But show me what teams are coming. Is ETSU going to come back? Is someone interesting going to come and join up? Or are talking about West Georgia or even Northern Kentucky? That would not be good.

Will the Mocs think about leaving? There have been no rumblings yet, but if I were in the Chattanooga Athletic Department (and I’m not), I’d at least start nosing around for what happens if Georgia Southern and Appalachian State also leave in the next few weeks/months.

Of course, we all saw this coming. The SoCon should be prepared for it. The CAA is getting a good basketball program (one that happen to think will be middle of the pack when they get there, rather than a true contender for the title). How the SoCon responds now will determine everything about this.

College of Charleston- Can't say I didn't see this coming after our debating the issue, voting, negotiating, voting to negotiate and then voting again. I think the recent surge of mid-majors joining the conference realignment talks really lit a fire under our Board of Trustees to get something done. In true Cold War fashion, the move was voted unanimously at least partly out of the paranoia that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will be gone in a few weeks. That would cause the SoCon to be left searching for answers and picking up the NCAA scraps so to speak. I think the CAA is an upgrade for not only our marquee sport but other programs as well but I'll admit Hull and Benson might look stupid if all the dominoes don't fall the way they're predicting. However the Southern Conference leadership has not demonstrated much in the past to foil this prediction.

Davidson-I was very much in favor of adding CofC to the Southern. I really thought that they'd continue to be a premier mid-major team and that they'd elevate the Southern to a 2-bid league. It certainly isn't CofC's fault that the conference hasn't become a 2-bid league, but we haven't. They have definitely elevated the profile of the league. They are in their 15th season in the conference. In that time, they have a healthy percentage of the conference's best wins. They won the conference title once and have competed for it several other times. They've given us great players and some very entertaining coaches. I'll miss them. I'll miss the games between Davidson and Charleston. We've played 26 times as conference mates. Davidson is 9-3 at home, 7-4 at CofC, and 2-1 in the tournament. There have been some fantastic games in that series. I doubt that we'll play each other after this season. I wish them well in their move. The CAA should be a good fit for their sports. I don't like that they are giving the Southern such short notice. Seven months isn't enough. I'd be in favor of banning CofC from conference tournaments for the remainder of their stay, but I can't imagine our commissioner and ADs going that far.

Furman- I hate it for baseball and basketball, but in general I will not weep when a non-football-playing school leaves, especially a party school. Problem is that Imamoron will probably do something stupid like bring in High Point to replace them. Eleven basketball teams is not ideal for the two-division game, but I would just have everyone play home-and-home - twenty conference games. I know I am not with the majority on this point.

Georgia Southern- Charleston leaving isn't really a surprise to me and it would probably affect me more as a Georgia Southern fan if I didn't expect my Eagles to be on the way out the door as well. This was probably just the first move in a series of events that will change the SoCon greatly. I imagine before long Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will both be leaving for a FBS conference, most likely the SunBelt, and Davidson might find a new home as well. These moves will obviously affect the conference in all of the major sports as GSU and App St are both on the national football scene in FCS, Charleston and Davidson are 2 of the top mid-major basketball programs, and GSU and Charleston both have very solid baseball programs that routinely go to regionals.

The school that stands to gain the most from this in my opinion is clearly Chattanooga. They are the 3rd biggest basketball program in the SoCon in terms of brand recognition and if Davidson decides to also leave then the door could be open for yearly NCAA tournament trips for the Mocs. Even if Davidson doesn't leave it will make UTC the #2 program in the conference and puts one less quality program in the way of the big dance. The Mocs have also been on the cusp of being a playoff team in football for a couple years now and if Georgia Southern and App St both leave then that opens up an avenue for UTC to be a serious contender to win the SoCon football title.

UNCG- First off, let's not be surprised by this move. Their AD's comments a few months ago left little doubt that they would be moving on. My personal reaction to the news, though, is a bit "meh". On one hand, the Cougars have a nice sports program that brought something to the table in almost all SoCon sports. Their basketball and baseball programs had NCAA caliber squads almost every season. In that respect it will be very hard to replace Charleston. But as a person who has wanted to see the SoCon have more member schools like my alma mater (larger state public schools), I'm interested to see how replacing them turns out. If CofC is replaced by Gardner-Webb or Presbyterian, I'll be a little more upset about them leaving. If it's Winthrop or ETSU, I'll be less upset about it. Plus, I think there are other schools that are going to move on before it all settles out. So, I'll hold off on a real opinion.

From the Cougars standpoint, I think it's probably a good move in the short term. I say short term b/c who knows what the conference landscape is going to look like in twelve months. Basketball is their marquee program and this instantly gets them on television more often and gives them an opportunity to get an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Not having VCU or ODU there may not give them as much of an opportunity as they envision. But certainly a better chance than they have in the SoCon. However, I would like the academic people at Charleston to stop spouting this stuff about using the CAA to draw more kids from up north. Let's just admit this is about money and basketball. None of these realignments have anything to do with academics. So, let's not even throw that out there.

In the end, I think it's a good move for the Cougars and it could end up being good for the SoCon. Now let's see where this goes.

Western Carolina- I'm afraid the conference commissioner is reacting to events, rather than being proactive to these same events. In my opinion, just as the CAA did, the SoCon commissioner should have announced his intentions publicly some time ago, and then pursued a set of schools that could have been ready and waiting to fill these positions. I'm afraid, that without a public plan in place, more SoCon schools might seek out other conference homes on their own, before the SoCon even approaches any potential replacement schools about these openings.

What if, with these three schools departing, Davidson reconsiders their decision. Then, Elon and UNCG (or Wofford) decides to depart with Davidson? With those departures, maybe UTC and Samford decide that the OVC is looking pretty good now, and seeks re-entry. This could turn into a completely depleted SoCon real quick.

Read the rest of his thoughts here.

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: College of Charleston at Elon

This is as interesting as it comes.

On the day after College of Charleston announced their plans to leave the SoCon for the Colonial Athletic Association next fall, they play a huge conference road game. If this was a game against a team that played in front of a larger crowd (not that there are many in the SoCon these days), this might turn into a very hostile environment.

As it is, the teams that currently sit second and third in the Scanning the SoCon Power Rankings are battling. This is a hugely important game for both the Cougars and the Phoenix. The Phoenix already beat Georgia Southern in SoCon play on Wednesday. The Cougars have not played a conference game yet.

That's another part of why this is so important. If Elon wins this game, they will be off to a 2-0 start in the SoCon, and on their way to being considered a serious contender for a bye in the tournament. Charleston would not be left scrambling, but they would have a few more questions.

The Cougars are relying heavily on point guard Andrew Lawrence. He started off last year red hot and then cooled off as the season went on. This year so far, battling back from injury, he is leading the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game. He is averaging 4.4 assists per game and 4.2 rebounds per game. He is shooting nearly 49% from the field, 40% from three point range, and 88.5% from the free throw line. He is the Cougars best player.

Trent Wiedeman is also battling back from injury. He is coming around too. He is averaging 11.7 poins per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. He is making 51.6% of his shots. Wiedeman has potential to be one of the top players in the whole SoCon. He is one of the better big men. Anthony Stitt is also averaging 11.5 points per game.

Adjehi Baru is one of the most hyped Cougar players. He has improved drastically since last year. He is averaging nine rebounds per game. He is also averaging 7.3 points per game. He is a solid defender, and a developing offensive player.

Opponents are shooting under 28% from three point range against the Cougars, and the Cougars are outrebounding their opponents by nearly seven per game. They also only allow opponents to shoot 40% from the floor.

Elon is not a big team, and has been outrebounded by four per game this year. Lucas Troutman is averaging 15.0 points per game and six rebounds per game. He is shooting over 51% from the floor. Troutman has also come up with nineteen blocks on the year. He has been a special player for the Phoenix throughout his time there.

Jack Isenbarger is averaging 14.4 points per game. He leads the team in minutes. He too has been a special player for the Phoenix. Isenbarger and Troutman are the two leaders on this club, and names that everyone that follows the SoCon closely knows.

Sebastian Koch is averaging 8.3 points per game. He is shooting 55.2% from three point range, making 16 of 29 from long range this year. He is also averaging 4.7 rebounds per game. He is a very important player. Ryley Beaumont is averaging 4.9 rebounds per game while scoring 9.3 points per game. Austin Hamilton is averaging 9.9 points per game.


--The Cougars will outrebound the Phoenix. The Cougars are a very good rebounding team and the Phoenix are not.
--The Phoenix will play with an edge at home against a team that is leaving the conference.
--Wiedeman and Lawrence vs. Troutman and Isenbarger is one of the best two on two battles in the conference, and will not disappoint.
--Elon 68, College of Charleston 65. The Phoenix, in front of their home crowd, will never be more ready to come up with a statement win. Yes, South Carolina was a good win. The Phoenix really want this one. This is the game they will be fired up for. Koch makes a couple of huge shots and leads the Phoenix to the win.

College of Charleston Leaving: King Kresse's Response

As many of you already know, College of Charleston is leaving the SoCon for the warm open arms of the CAA.

I thought this would be a good time to get out and figure out what a College of Charleston fan thought of everything that went down today. This is what fellow blogger King Kresse had to say. Much appreciation to him for always being willing to help out.

Check back just before midnight for reactions from fans around the conference.

Q. I know there were some in your fanbase that wanted to stay in the SoCon for various reasons. Were you in favor of the decision or not?

A. was for the move. I wrote this when we were still in the negotiating stage. The most verbal detractors of a move to the CAA generally fell into one or both of these categories: those who enjoyed the relative proximity of road games in the SoCon and those tied to the baseball program. The latter group felt that a move to the CAA would be a downgrade in baseball from the SoCon.

Q. How do you believe this will benefit CofC in all sports, not just basketball?

A. I think it will have a generally positive impact.

· Basketball: upgrade (RPI, strength of schedule, exposure, recruiting)

· Baseball: have to wait and see. If ECU joins the CAA in non-football sports it would be an upgrade. If App State, Elon and/or GSU leave the SoCon it could still be an upgrade. Right now it's a slight downgrade but I think more moves are coming.

· Soccer: Upgrade

· Cross Country/Track: Huge upgrade

· Swimming/Diving: Huge upgrade

· Tennis: Upgrade

· Softball: push-slight upgrade

· Volleyball: push. CofC should still be the best team in the conference

Q. Do you believe there was anything that the SoCon could have done in the last six months to avoid CofC leaving?

A. I may be in the minority here but I don't think there's anything the Southern Conference could have done. Charleston is a basketball school that was stuck in a football conference. Our athletic director Joe Hull was looking for an out as soon as the realignments started. Hiring Dave Odom as a SoCon basketball advisor was too little too late. Now that we've left it will be interesting to see what kind of talks the SoCon is involved in.

Q. What do you believe was the tipping point for the Board of Trustees that made them realize that they needed to leave the SoCon and join the CAA?

A. The recent surge of mid-major realignments now that football season is winding down. Tulane/ECU to the Big East and Middle Tennessee/Florida Atlantic to Conference USA. I think the Board members who were on the fence understood that this would likely open the door for Georgia Southern and Appalachian State to jump ship and lead to the subsequent erosion of the SoCon. It also might open the door for more southern schools (including those with competitive baseball teams) to join the CAA.

Q. How do you think the Cougars will fare in the CAA in basketball?

A. I think next year we should compete pretty well. We've got plenty of talent returning and the guys will only get more comfortable under Coach Wojcik. I think the new style of play will help us compete against schools like George Mason and Drexel. After that we'll see what impact recruiting in the CAA and under Wojcik has on wins/losses.

Q. What upgrades need to be made to be on a more even playing field with the CAA?

A. I still don't know which of the olympic sports will be competing in the CAA but those facilities could use some upgrades. The natatorium and track are solid but not up to the CAA standards. TD Arena and Patriots Point are fine. Being able to recruit from areas of the Northeast was another supposed advantage of the CAA and we could always use more talented student athletes as we adjust to the level of competition.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about being in the CAA?

A. Going to road games! That's just me personally though because I live in Washington DC, minutes from GMU/ W&M and I have friends in Baltimore, Harrisonburg, VA and Newark, DE. I think being able to watch the Cougars more on television versus on the computer screen will also be pretty cool with the NBC deal.

Q. As a member of the SoCon, what is your fondest memory of the league?

A. Stephen Curry. I remember my freshman year we were still playing in the old Kresse Arena and I didn't know much about this Davidson team who was dominating our little mid-major conference. Then I watched from the front row as Curry annihilated us with a barrage of threes. I'll also miss the conference championships. To me the biggest advantage of having a geographically dense conference is that fans of every team can easily make it to the SoCon tournaments.

College of Charleston to the CAA

College of Charleston will be off to the CAA in fall of 2013.

From SoCon Commisioner John Iamarino:

“We’re naturally disappointed, but not surprised, by today’s decision. Public comments made it apparent that the College of Charleston administration favored this move. Successfully assimilating changes in membership has been part of the Southern Conference’s DNA for more than 90 years. With the commitment and cooperation of our Presidents and Chancellors, we will continue to explore the best options available to us to ensure a successful future for our athletic programs and the student-athletes we serve.”

Much, much more coming in the next 24 hours here on the blog about this move. Stay tuned.....


Daily Dribbles- 11-30-12

--After the North won two road games against the South on Wednesday, there are four games between the two divisions, all of them at the North, on Saturday. What happens now? Georgia Southern heads to Samford, The Citadel goes to UNCG, Davidson heads to Chattanooga, and (in the SoCon Monster Game of the Week, with a preview coming later on today) College of Charleston travels to Elon. This is a huge night in the early season Battle of North vs. South.

--It will be incredibly difficult to come up with an out of conference win on Saturday for the SoCon. Appalachian State goes to Missouri (who looks like they will be without Dixon), Furman (who has the worst RPI in the country at this point) heads to Illinois-Chicago, and Western Carolina heads to undefeated Eastern Kentucky. Ummm....doesn't look good.

--I'm really interested in all the SoCon games on Saturday. Georgia Southern has underperformed to this point, but Samford has not been good either. Which one gets the win? UNCG has really struggled, but The Citadel has not earned muh respect yet. They can earn a large measure of respect with a win in Greensboro. Davidson's trip to Chattanooga could be interesting if the Mocs play with the intensity they have been playing with. Of course, the CofC-Elon game will be previewed later on today. The second and third best teams in the SoCon? Yes, please.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Competition Not Always The Best Thing

I'll admit it. I feel bad for a lot of the people involved.

I feel bad for the Mocs basketball team.

I feel bad for the casual Mocs fan.


It's simple. Alabama-Georgia.

Yep- the SEC Championship Game is on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 Eastern. The Mocs play their SoCon opener at 7:30 on Saturday night at home against Davidson.

So, here's how this plays out.

A December home game, going more or less head-to-head with the SEC Championship Game. The crowd will not be particularly large....especially for a Saturday SoCon home game for the Mocs.

The problem for the Mocs is that they deserve a big crowd, especially for this game. This is a huge game for the Mocs. They are playing the SoCon favorite at home. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mocs. A chance to get a big crowd, and to compete against the conference best.

Instead, the crowd won't be as big as it deserves.

So why do I feel bad for the casual Mocs fan? Because this is the best team that the Mocs are likely to see in Chattanooga this year. Yes, Mercer and Eastern Kentucky both are off to solid stars and both come in December. Yes, College of Charleston comes later on in the year. But this is the biggest home game of the year, because it is a really really good SoCon team in Chattanooga. But the casual Mocs fan has not started paying really close attention yet. They will not show up to watch the Mocs play because of the SEC Championship Game.

Competing for people's attention is not always the best thing. The Mocs need a win. Can they come up with one? Even bigger, will Chattanooga show up to support the Mocs in this one?


Daily Dribbles-11-29-12

--All in all, not a bad day for the SoCon. The SoCon got two wins over the Big South, as College of Charleston beat Charleston Southern, 72-67, and Wofford beat Winthrop, 70-55. The SoCon is now 3-6 against the Big South on the year.

--The North went 2-0 against the South, both on the road. Those were solid wins for the North, as Western Carolina beat Furman and Elon beat Georgia Southern. Good wins for both North teams. Can the North actually win the Battle of North vs. South this year?

--The problem is the other three out of conference losses for the SoCon. North Carolina A&T beat UNCG for the third straight year. What's wrong with the Spartans? The out of conference schedule was easier this year so it was supposed to be better this year, but they are not doing well again. Florida Gulf Coast won at Samford, and the Bulldogs showed some struggles. Appalachian State lost to Duquesne by one after trailing by fourteen at halftime. They were winning by two with less than a minute left, but were unable to hold onto the lead. It was actually an OK performance by Appalachian State, but Samford and UNCG were disappointing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December in Preview: Long December

I may be showing my age a little here, at least to any of the audience younger than me. But this is one song about December that comes to mind- one of my old favorites from the 90s.

Counting Crows sings "Long December," and one of the lyrics goes, "Long December, and there's reason to believe that maybe this year could be better than the last."

And that is exactly how I feel about the Mocs right now.

Last year was not good. But as I watch this team, I see reason to believe that maybe this year could be better than last year. There is hope for this team and for their future. I believe this team has a chance to be good. That all starts in December.

Toughest Game: Davidson. A trip to LSU is also very tough, but the Wildcats are the best team on the schedule for the Mocs this month. Yes, it's a home game. This is a very difficult task for the Mocs even at home. It will be the only SoCon game for the Mocs in the month. This is the only time the Mocs play Davidson this year. It's a huge opportunity for the Mocs to come up with a season changing win. It's not going to be easy to go down to LSU, and both are pretty much equally tough. But I think Davidson is the better all around team.

Easiest Game: Reinhardt. Reinhardt is the lone non-D1 remaining on the entire schedule for the Mocs. The Mocs will play them at noon on Friday, December 21. It has become a tradition for the Mocs to play the last game before Christmas break at noon, and it turns into a bit of a Businessman's Special. The time of day, the last day before Christmas- all that makes this not a completely easy game for a young team to focus on and come away with a win. Still, this is the lone game during the month that you look at and say, "The Mocs will almost certainly win that one."

Most Important Game(s): Dr Pepper Classic.  I'm normally big on saying that a conference game would be the most important game. But for the Mocs, who play one SoCon game during December against the best team in the conference, the Dr Pepper Classic games are the most important games. High Point has already beaten UNCG and Appalachian State this year, and that is the Mocs first round opponent. The second game will be against either Utah Valley or Austin Peay. These are game the Mocs can win, and it would be huge for momentum heading into the New Year to come away with a couple of wins here. The Eastern Kentucky home game is huge for similar reasons- a game the Mocs will probably be favored to win to continue to build the confidence of this young bunch. By the end of December, I'm hoping to see a team that is coming much closer together and getting close to contending in the SoCon. The Dr Pepper Classic will tell the tale of whether they are there or not. Why is Davidson not picked? Because almost universally people will be picking Davidson to beat the Mocs. That will not have a huge impact on the Mocs final standing in the SoCon race. It matters, but it matters more if they win than if they lose. The Dr Pepper Classic matters if they win or lose.

Predicted Record: 5-2. Call me confident if you want. Here's what I'm predicting. I'm predicting a win over Eastern Kentucky, Reinhardt, High Point, and then the second game of the Dr Pepper Classic (which I'm calling to be the championship game since I picked the Mocs to beat High Point). Then I am picking the Mocs to steal one of the three they are not expected to win- Davidson, Mercer, or LSU. The Davidson and Mercer games are at home. The LSU game is on the road. That means that I am picking the Mocs to not blow a game that they will probably be favored in and steal one that they are an underdog in.

Confident? Perhaps. Hopeful? Definitely. But, the first month showed me that there is reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.


Battle of North vs. South- 11-28-12


Western Carolina (N) 79
Furman (S) 65

Elon (N) 55
Georgia Southern (S) 50


North- 2
South- 0

at North

North- 0
South- 0

at South

North- 2
South- 0


What? The North is off to a 2-0 start against the South? Both wins came on the road? Last year, the North came up with just seven wins at South teams. Now, admittedly, one of the South teams that lost was Furman, and the Paladins are probably one of the worst teams in the division to this point. But still, Furman was hoping to come up with an early SoCon win. On top of that, Georgia Southern is one of the better home teams in the SoCon, but Elon went on the road and beat them. That's a good win for the Phoenix. I'm very intrigued by the battle this year between the two divisions, and this makes me wonder if the North can actually compete with the South in the race throughout the year.

Daily Dribbles- 11-28-12

--The SoCon season gets underway tonight with two SoCon games, but there are five out of conference games for the SoCon tonight too. There are two really big in-city battles, as College of Charleston heads to Charleston Southern and North Carolina A&T heads to UNCG. The SoCon really needs to go 2-0 in those two games.

--I know that in the last blurb you wanted a full preview of the CofC-Charleston Southern game. Here it is.

--As King Kresse notes in the above link, the SoCon is 1-6 against the Big South this year. Ouch. Not only does CofC play Charleston Southern tonight, but Winthrop and Wofford also hook up. The SoCon could REALLY use a 2-0 night on Wednesday in those clashes.

--Lucas Troutman was picked as the SoCon Player of the Week. He scored 33 points in two games for the Phoenix, and also moved into third place all-time in blocks for Elon. He also averaged seven rebounds per game. Troutman has been a solid contributor for the Phoenix this year and is clearly one of their most important players.

--Nik Cochran has made all fourteen free throws this year for Davidson. He has made 30 of his last 31 dating back to last year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November in Review: Reason For Hope

Once you get into a season, there is a daily grind to it. I don't know this as well as the players and coaches, obviously. But I write about basketball pretty much every day from November until March. There is a grind attached to it all.

It's easy to lose track of where we sit in the season. It's easy to lose track of where the team is, how much they've grown, and where they need to improve. That's why it is so important for me to sit and take notice of the milestones in a season. For example, the end of a month is a wonderful time to take notice of where the team sits.

The Mocs had their ups and downs in November. It was a month of growth, and a month of opportunity for the Mocs fans to see the potential.

The Mocs only went 2-4. Their best win was over Kennesaw State, of course. The Owls were the lone D-1 win for the Mocs. The worst loss was to Troy. The Trojans were the win the Mocs should have come up with, but didn't. Above all others, the Mocs should have won that.

But, I have been thoroughly impressed by the Mocs ability to rebound the basketball. This team, which is not big on height, has done a tremendous job of rebounding. According to Pomeroy's statistics, this team would be in the Top 30 in the country in rebounding percentage, meaning they get a very high percentage of rebounds that are available.

The Mocs also have been switching up defenses a lot. They are not playing great defense in terms of keeping the opponent from scoring. However, they have been doing some halfcourt trap, and there has been plenty of zone mixed in with man-to-man. It's been fun to watch them switch up their defenses, and it has pleased the fans.

They have started shooting better in the next two games, but this is still a team I am not convinced is a great shooting team. They have not been shooting threes. It's been really nice to see. The Mocs have been taking very few threes, and the guards are driving it to the basket. Z Mason and Drazen Zlovaric have been making plays on the inside. The athleticism of the young players, especially Gee McGhee and Casey Jones, has been on display, and that's why they are driving the ball so much. They can get to the basket. Farad Cobb is going to be a great shooter, and he has a ton of talent. Rico White has been looking much more comfortable the last couple of games.

The Lance Stokes injury did not help the Mocs in the early season. They needed his talent coming off the bench. It made them a little bit more shallow than they would have liked to be.

The biggest weakness the Mocs have right now is their ball handling. They are one of the worst teams in the country at committing turnovers. They need to do a better job of not turning the ball over. The Mocs are struggling with that at the moment. In truth, that's the worst thing the Mocs have going for them. They simply are not protecting the basketball like they need to, committing over twenty turnovers in their last two games. They really struggle with any kind of pressure defense. That should get better as the season goes along.

The Mocs are off to a solid start, but only are 2-4. It was a disappointing month in a lot of ways, but it left me, as a fan, with a positive taste in my mouth. I can see the team is growing and improving, slowly but surely. There is enthusiasm around the program in a bit of a way, in a way that the Mocs have not felt in a while. Yes, it is not this unbridled enthusiasm. But there is a positive vibe among the fans in general.

That being said, the fans have not come out in force yet. I wish Chattanooga would get behind this team, because there is plenty to be excited about regarding this squad. It probably won't start on Saturday night, with the SEC Championship Game finishing just as the Mocs-Davidson game is starting. But if the Mocs can have a solid December to back up a decent November, then the fans may come out in January- particularly if the team continues winning into January.

But there I go again- getting lost in thinking about the future, when the first pole of the season is just complete. I don't need to get ahead of myself. It's hard not to, though.

After all, during November, the Mocs gave me reason for hope.

Daily Dribbles- 11-27-12

--Two SoCon games kick off the schedule on Wednesday. Both are North vs. South match-ups. Which division is better this year? I would think the South, but I am a little less convinced this year that it is a slam dunk. Then again, last year, I thought the two divisions would be roughly equal, and they were not.

--Georgia Southern hosts Elon in Statesboro. This is a really important game for both teams. Remember how Georgia Southern started slow last year but proved they were in the SoCon race to stay with two wins in the December games? This is another chance for the Eagles. The Phoenix are trying to prove that they are the second or third best team in the SoCon. If they want to earn that, a win in Statesboro would go a long way.

--Western Carolina goes to Furman. A really interesting early season match-up for these two teams. Great preview on the Catamount Sports Blog. Check it out.

--Football is king over at Yosef's Cabin, but if you scroll to the bottom of the post, he talks about the horrendous spelling error on the front of the Appalachian State jersey. "Appalachain" is apparently not the proper spelling. Whoops. Comes with pictures.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Where Do the Mocs Fit in the SoCon Race?

A rash of SoCon games start this week, and the Mocs are wasting no time in jumping right in with both feet. They play the league favorite Davidson at home on Saturday night in a game that will tell us a lot about where the Mocs are right now in the SoCon race.

But where do the Mocs fit right now?

The most important thing for any SoCon team hoping to advance to the NCAA Tournament is to win the SoCon Tournament. Considering that no team has ever won the tournament playing four games in four days, that means that they need to get a bye. This year, the tournament format has changed, and the winners of each division will receive a bye, and then the next two best records in the tournament will receive a bye. That means that it is going to be difficult to predict which teams are going to receive the byes without looking seriously at which division is going to be tougher.

The South is probably the favorite to be the top division again. But I am a little bit less convinced that a third team from the South will get the bye. So, if we assume that two teams from each division get a bye, let's move forward.

The North's top three teams in the preseason were expected to be Elon, UNCG, and Western Carolina. So far this year, Western Carolina has underperformed (at least a little bit), and UNCG has probably been a touch worse than expected. The Mocs, on the other hand, have shown me flashes of a team that is going to be good once they have a little bit of experience under their belts. So, I believe the Mocs have closed the gap some on the top three teams in the SoCon. I also believe that Appalachian State and Samford have each played at least as poorly as expected, though remember that Samford is young, and Appy has injury problems. So the Mocs have created a little bit of a gap there.

So where do the Mocs fit in in the North race? I think they could finish anywhere from second to fourth based on the current play of the teams. If they finish second, then they are a legitimate contender to get to the NCAA Tournament (assuming they get the bye that I am projecting goes with finishing second). If they finish fourth, they probably aren't (although who would want to play a team getting more experience as they head into March if they can get in on any kind of hot streak?).

The Mocs are a long way from that. This week, it starts sorting itself out. It all starts on Wednesday night when Georgia Southern hosts Elon and Western Carolina goes to Furman. This is a huge chance to figure out where some of the top teams in the North sit, and where the Mocs really stand. By about 10 PM Saturday night, the Mocs will know even more based on their performance against Davidson.

It's awfully early to be worried about where the Mocs are in the SoCon. But this week's games will be sticking with the Mocs until March.

It's time.


Dailyy Dribbles- 11-26-12

--Did you miss that College of Charleston went on the road an upset a ranked Baylor team on Saturday night? King Kresse obviously didn't.

--Davidson had a couple of good wins against Vanderbilt and West Virginia last week in the Old Spice Classic, before falling to Gonzaga in the championship game. Not sure if Davidson has done anywhere near enough to warrant at-large consideration yet, but they are at least trending in the right direction.

--Elon's win over South Carolina was the first win over a major conference team for the SoCon last week. Their disappointing loss to VMI on Saturday was costly to them.

--UNCG couldn't get the job done against Rutgers on Sunday at home. The Spartans are really close. Are they heading towards another year where they struggle out of conference and then win big in SoCon play, like they did last year? We'll find out more this week when they host North Carolina A&T and The Citadel- two games the Spartans SHOULD win.

--The Mocs win over Kennesaw State may not sound like much, but the Mocs lost at home to the Owls last year. This year, they went on the road and beat the Owls by 14. It was the sixth loss of the young year for the Owls, but it was also the second largest point differential in losing (more than Tennessee). Who beat them by more? Why- the SoCon's Georgia Southern of course! SoCon Domination! At least over Kennesaw State.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

SoCon Monster Game of the Week Announcement: College of Charleston at Elon

In a week that SoCon games start, I'm not going to lie. The College of Charleston visit to Elon actually has me really excited.

The Cougars and the Phoenix are the second and third ranked team in the SoCon according to Scanning the SoCon. Elon beat South Carolina for the second consecutive year last week. College of Charleston beat Baylor on the road on Saturday night.

This is a really interesting match-up and will go a long way to determine the early season team that is considered most likely to knock Davidson off their perch at the top of the conference. In reality, both teams could knock off Davidson, but the Wildcats are the number one team at the moment.

The Battle of North vs. South also takes a turn with this early season match-up.

Can't wait for Saturday night. Look for a preview on Friday and a review on Saturday night.

Scanning the SoCon- Week Four

Each week, twelve bloggers/message boarders (one representing each team) all will vote on a Game of the Week and Power Rankings. At least four will answer a series of questions on their team and around the SoCon. Don't forget to check back Monday through Friday to read Daily Dribbles from around the SoCon here on MocsMania.

Appalachian State- Yosef's Cabin T-Dog
Chattanooga- Mocs Mania- JohnMoc
College of Charleston- King Kresse CougarSurf11
Davidson- Davidson Cats Message Board David Sink
Elon- Elon Pendulum Student Newspaper- Zachary Horner
Furman- The UFFP Message Board- Hawg
Georgia Southern- GSU Fans Message Board half-n-half
Samford- Samford Bulldogs Message Board AP
The Citadel- The Sports Arsenal- Sandlapper Spike
UNC-Greensboro- UNCG Basketball Fan DashSpartan
Western Carolina- Purple & Gold Jerry Love
Wofford- Terrier Fans Message Board 

Rutgers at UNCG
Gonzaga vs. Davidson (Old Spice Classic Championship)
Furman at Mercer

Duquesne at Appalachian State
North Carolina A&T at UNCG
Elon at Georgia Southern
Winthrop at Wofford
Western Carolina at Furman
College of Charleston at Charleston Southern
Florida Gulf Coast at Samford

Georgia Southern at Samford
Furman at Loyola-Chicago
Appalachian State at Missouri
The Citadel at UNCG
College of Charleston at Elon
Western Carolina at Eastern Kentucky
Davidson at Chattanooga


1) Davidson 119 (9)
2) College of Charleston 111 (1)
3) Elon 100
4) UNCG 76
5) Wofford 72
6) Western Carolina 64
7t) Chattanooga 62

7t) Georgia Southern 62
9) The Citadel 43

10) Furman 33
11) Appalachian State 21
12) Samford 17


College of Charleston at Elon- 5 votes

Others Receiving Vores: Gonzaga  vs. Davidson (3 votes), Davidson at Chattanooga (1), North Carolina A&T at UNCG (1)


1) Sum up your team since the last time you wrote about them.

Chattanooga- Oh, those crazy Mocs! They have played better on the road than they have at home. They were up twelve in the second half at Kansas, and were up twenty at Kennesaw on Saturday. They lost to Kansas, but beat the Owls by fourteen. They also beat Tennessee Temple. Their other three games were three disappointing home games against SE Missouri, Troy, and Louisiana Tech. However, the Mocs have been playing hard, and not been playing that bad. They are one of the better rebounding teams in the league, and are turning into a decent shooting team. Their defense has been questionable, and they turn the ball over too much, but they are really playing hard. This team will only get better.

Furman- Injuries have caused the early development of a freshman point guard, and he has played pretty well, but has some difficulty with turnovers being too high. We have seen minutes where we had five freshmen on the floor, and have seen several players taking a few turns at the point. Also have some injuries affecting other positions. Getting improved play and minutes from a slimmer Colin Reddick; interested in seeing if he will be able to continue that improvement in conference play.

Georgia Southern- It's been a rocky road for Georgia Southern since my preseason preview. The hope for a second inside presence to go with Eric Ferguson has not been there and it's hurt GSU big time. The Eagles are last in the conference at a -6.8 rebounding differential after being outrebounded 49-25 against Maryland. Ferguson is averaging 14.4 points a game, but the rest of the post players combined are averaging 11.3 points combined. GSU has found a point guard in CJ Reed. After sitting out last year, the senior got off to a slow start but had his best game yesterday against Maryland finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. He is starting to look to be more of an offensive threat and the Eagles need that.The three keys I mentioned for GSU in my preseason preview were improving turnovers, field goal % defense, and scoring more points at the free throw line. Unfortunately the turnover rate and FG% defense haven't improved at all. But the Eagles are shooting a solid .725 from the line which is 3rd in the conference and a vast improvement from the .665 of last year. Overall the good news is that GSU has improved since the first game. And freshman Cleon Roberts is playing like a senior scoring in double figures in his first 4 games as an Eagle. The bad news is that the opening game was such a setback that I still don't think the Eagles are even back to where most people thought they would be when the season started. Wednesday's matchup with Elon is going to tell us a lot about where GSU stand.

Western Carolina- The Catamounts are 2-4 at this point in the season.  WCU always seem to have problems on the road early in the season, and this year has been no different.  To start the season, the Cats traveled to Asheville, and promptly dropped a 10 point loss to mountain rival UNCA, due to poor shooting and even worse free throw percentages.  After rolling over DII Mars Hill 95-68 at home, the Cats took to the road again for the Cancun Challenge.  Two games were played stateside, and two played in Cancun, Mexico.  WCU went 1-3 in the tournament, picking up their lone win against Howard in the final game.  The Cats had a 16 point loss to Wichita State, a 11 point loss to Western Kentucky, and a one point loss Austin Peay in the tournament.  On Wednesday, the Cats will open conference play at Furman.

2)  UNCG was the preseason favorite in the North, Elon was second, and Western Carolina a very close third. After a couple of weeks of action, who is the favorite in the North now? Why?

Chattanooga- Elon is the favorite right now. They have been the most impressive team in the North. But UNCG and Chattanooga are not far behind. Western Carolina is taking a while to come together, and the Catamounts will eventually be right in this race. But Elon is the favorite. It’s the Phoenix division to lose- everyone else is chasing them.

Furman- Elon. They have had a mostly up early season.

Georgia Southern- I still think UNCG is the favorite in the North, but Elon is going to be nipping at their heels all season. At the end of the day UNCG's athleticism makes them a little better than Elon. This race will come down to the wire though.

Western Carolina- At this point, I’m leaning toward Elon even though I think they had a bad loss at VMI on Saturday.  The Phoenix victory over South Carolina looms large, and I think it’s going to take a little more time for both Greensboro and Western to jell with their current rosters to be able to challenge Elon for the North championship.  Chattanooga might be the dark horse in the race.

3) What is the best win for a SoCon team so far this year? Why?

Chattanooga- It has to be College of Charleston’s win over Baylor on the road on Saturday night. Beat a ranked team on the road? That’s really impressive for the Cougars. Davidson’s win over West Virginia might be second on that list. That’s two really good wins for the SoCon in the last couple of days, after Elon beat South Carolina for the second consecutive year and Davidson beat Vanderbilt. Not a bad week for the SoCon, overall.

Georgia Southern- It looked like Elon over South Carolina was going to be the best win of the season and then I was ready to give the nod to Davidson over West Virginia. But not to be outdone Charleston goes out and beats Baylor last night. So I have to give the nod to Charleston based on Baylor being ranked, but overall it was a good week for the SoCon.

Western Carolina- Clearly it was Charleston’s win over #24 Baylor Saturday night.  It’s not every day that a SoCon team picks up a top 25 win on the road, and Charleston did it with solid shooting from the field and 60% free throw shooting.    

4) This week, there will be a handful of SoCon conference games. What do you think about the SoCon playing conference games in December?

Chattanooga- I don’t particularly like it. If you are going to have two divisions, might as well play ten games against your division and six games against the other division. That’s sixteen games, which would take the priority of the two games in December off the list. That being said, people want the SoCon teams to play tougher schedules. I’m not sure taking the conference schedule down by two games does that, forcing teams to find two more out of conference games to schedule. So, I understand the need, but these games matter.

Furman- I have strong feelings that are not universally shared. While I would rather see conference games grouped at the end of the schedule, I believe that we should play home-and-home against ALL conference members. That would be 22 conference games, and with that number, December games would be a must.

Georgia Southern-I like having a couple early season conference games. Everybody plays different out of conference schedules so it's tough to judge how the SoCon teams stack up against each other just by looking at the records. These games give an indication of where your team stands and what needs to be worked on the rest of the out of conference schedule.

UNCG- I hate this. Always have. It really puts too much emphasis early in the year on teams that are developing. Last year, UNCG quickly went out and lost a few games in December before finding themselves by the New Year. It seems silly as important as these games are, to be playing them so early. I wish the conference would stop it.

Western Carolina- League play is starting to get earlier and earlier.  We’ve been playing at least two conference games in December for the last few years, and this season, the Cats are playing one of those two games December games in November.   It’s just too early in the season for conference games, each and every one is too important in the standings to play this early in the season.   I’d like to see conference play start no earlier than January each season.

5) If you had to pick one head coach in the conference to coach your team, who would it be?

Chattanooga- Got to take Bob McKillop from Davidson. He has been so successful for so long, it’s hard to imagine a better overall coach in the SoCon. If I was forced to pick someone else, it would probably be Mike Young from Wofford. He has done so much over the  last few years to prove that he belongs among the elite in the league. Matt Matheny at Elon is quickly trying to join these ranks.

Furman- Bob McKillop, Davidson.

Georgia Southern-There are some good coaches in the SoCon making this a tough choice. Wes Miller and Charlton Young are a couple young coaches who are very good on the recruiting trail, but there are still questions about their coaching. I think the top 2 are Mike Young at Wofford and Bob McKillop at Davidson. While I don't think you can go wrong with either, I'd have to go with Coach McKillop.

Western Carolina- There are several good to excellent coaches in the SoCon, however I think that Larry Hunter is the best fit for the Catamounts in the league.