Monday, January 28, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Thirteen

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. Also, don’t forget to play SoCon Pick ‘Em!

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- Tyler Ash
Furman- The UFFP Message Board- SoConJohn
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


Chattanooga at UNCG 2:00

Appalachian State at College of Charleston 7:00

Georgia Southern at Furman 7:00
Samford at Davidson 7:00
Elon at UNCG 7:00
Wofford at The Citadel 7:05

The Citadel at Furman 4:00
Western Carolina at Appalachian State 4:30 (ESPN3)
UNCG at College of Charleston 7:00 (ESPN3)
Samford at Elon 7:00
Davidson at Wofford 7:00
Chattanooga at Georgia Southern 7:30

1) Davidson 132 (11)
2) College of Charleson 118
3) Elon 113
4) Samford 92
5) Western Carolina 86
6) Appalachian State 76
7) Georgia Southern 66
8) UNCG 50
9) Chattanooga 49
10) Wofford 41
11) Furman 23
12) The Citadel 12


Samford at Davidson- 7 votes

Others Receiving Votes: Elon at UNCG (4 votes)


Sum up your team.

Davidson-The last time I wrote about the Wildcats, we were 3-0 in the conference. We had a 1/2 game lead in the division and trailed in the race for the #1 seed by 1 game. Now the Wildcats are 8-1 with a 2 game lead in the division and a 1 1/2 game lead for the #1 seed. Those six games saw the Wildcats go 3-1 on the road and 2-0 at home. The first game in the series was a narrow win at Furman. Davidson would almost certainly have lost that one without a career game from senior forward Clint Mann. Clint scored 20 in the game and sparked a Wildcat rally from a 30-17 deficit. In the first of the home games, Clint was injured by a cheap shot from Citadel's Elmore. He's been out with a concussion since. The Wildcats won that game by 32, rode a great performance by Tom Droney to a 9 point win over CofC, beat WCU by 5 behind Nik Cochran's career-best 32 (10-13 overall, 6-8 on 3s, 6-6 at the line, 26 points in the second half), and then beat ASU by 23 on the road yesterday. Fans are looking forward to Clint's return, but his teammates have all elevated their games in his absence. Next up for Davidson is a visit from Samford on Thursday. I don't expect a letdown from the Wildcats. They remember the disappointing loss at Samford last season. We'll also learn who our Bracket Buster opponent is pretty soon. We are through the first half of the conference season.  Nine games down, and the only loss was to a dangerous GSU team at their place.

Elon- The Elon Phoenix is on fire, currently winners of five in a row to seize sole possession of first place in the North division. The most impressive part of this win streak? The Phoenix has won their past four games without the services of starting point guard Austin Hamilton, who is dealing with an ankle injury.

Samford- Since I last wrote, Samford has been playing much better basketball. The Bulldogs went on a four-game winning streak and lost at Greensboro by two. During that streak, Tim Williams and Raijon Kelly continued to play well, but the supporting cast stole the show. At Charleston, Will Cook went off for 12 and 7; against the Citadel, Clide Geffrard nearly matched his career-high with 22 points; against WCU, tiny freshman PG Russ Wilson scored 8 points, got 5 boards, and played 24 minutes of lockdown defense (helping force Trey Sumler into a 6 for 16 night from the floor); and finally, against AppState, Brandon Hayman—a Dean’s List student with a 3.7 fall semester GPA—scored 14 points in 12 minutes. Tyler Hood has returned from seven-game absence with a broken hand and contributed a bigger body on defense, efficient offense, and improving shooting as he works back into rhythm. But, even during the winning streak, the underlying fundamentals of this team were only just OK. For long stretches in the first half of many games, Samford can’t get stops; in the second half, they have defended much better. Samford needs to play games with 64 or fewer possessions to have a chance at winning, and the game at G was way too fast for too long. It’s also becoming a trend that Samford will need to shoot the ball very well and limit turnovers to have any shot at a win—at least until they start defending better.

The Citadel- The Citadel finally won its first SoCon game of the season by beating Georgia Southern 70-55 in Statesboro. GSU is, to be fair, one of the league's more mercurial teams, but it was a good performance by the Bulldogs, and had been coming (though the previous game against Davidson had been a debacle). The Bulldogs have dropped two games since the win over GSU, however. The Citadel's problems with turnovers and defensive rebounding came into play in both losses. Mike Groselle has been excellent, as usual, and freshman Matt Van Scyoc has proven to be a legitimate offensive threat, if at times an inconsistent one. The Citadel appears to be close to putting things together. If that happens (and there is no guarantee it will), the Bulldogs are going to be a problem down the stretch for several SoCon opponents.

The North is a tight race. Who do you think wins it?

Davidson- Elon. They were my pick in the pre-season, and I certainly see nothing to change my mind so far. I'm looking forward to seeing Samford and their excellent freshmen in person in week. I expect WCU to finish 2nd to Elon in the North, but I think that Elon has too much talent on the roster and in the coaching staff not to win the North.

Elon- I hate to be a “homer” here but I have to pick the Elon Phoenix. They look like the cream of the crop of their division right now as their remarkable win streak could continue for a few more games if they continue to shoot this well from behind the arc. Jack Isenbarger and Lucas Troutman have emerged as two of the top players in the Conference, while freshman Tanner Sampson has filled in excellently for the injured Austin Hamilton. Not to mention, the Phoenix is the only team in the north division with an overall winning record as the other teams struggled mightily in non-conference play.

Furman- If I had to pick right now, I am going with Elon. They have the best collection of experienced talent and depth on their team, and the Phoenix have Matt Matheny, who I believe is one of the SoCon and Division I college basketball's up-and-coming coaches.

Samford- I think Elon wins the North. They’re just too deep, too well-coached, and they’re getting strong play from their upperclassmen. The Elon kids have seen it before. Matt Matheny knows what it takes to win in this league. I would be very surprised if they don’t end up winning the North.

The Citadel- I think Elon will eventually win the North division based on its overall play and its remaining schedule.

Western Carolina- At this point in the season, I think the north is Elon’s to lose.  Elon and Samford should finish 1-2, based on the play up until now. Western has the talent, but inconsistent play will keep the out of a bye, however, don’t count then out for another run during the tournament.

Which team has been the biggest disappointment so far in the SoCon portion of the schedule?

Davidson- UNCG. A lot of people picked them to win the North. A win over Chattanooga today would put them in a tie for 5th. A loss would put them all alone in 6th. They are 5-13 overall. Their only D1 wins have been at home over Citadel, Wofford, and Samford.

Elon- I would have to say Wofford because they held a respectable 6-7 record in non-conference play and are now 2-6 in SoCon action. Last night’s blowout loss at home to the College of Charleston reaffirmed my decision as it appears Wofford is headed for a rough season.

Furman- UNCG--The team has all the individual talent and a coach that appeared to have carried them to the brink of the tournament title game last season. His miraculous turnaround job after taking over for Mike Dement has turned into a nightmare this season, as team's have found that the Spartans aren't interested in playing defense, and only scoring points.

Samford- Wofford. At one point, you could make a case that they were one of the three strongest teams in the league. After they beat Xavier, the wheels have just fallen off. They nearly lost by 40 to a pedestrian UVA team, which started a 2-7 streak that included one of the unforgiveable sins of this SoCon season—a loss to Furman.

The Citadel- I am a little surprised at Wofford's SoCon performance -- not just the losses, but by the Terriers occasionally getting shelled (including a 29-point loss at home to the CofC on Saturday night).

Western Carolina- Personally, the biggest disappointment has been Western and their inconsistent play the entire season (however, EVERYONE returns next season, so the expectations should be high.   The biggest disappointment in the conference I feel has been UNCG, based on their turn around last season, and North Division title, and this season’s returning players.  I think the expectations & pressure may have been too much for a very young, unseasoned head coach.

Let's assume that the SoCon champ gets a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Which team do you think is best equipped to advance in the Tournament during March?

Davidson- None of our teams have a chance to advance if they get a 15 seed. 15s play 2s. 2s kill people. The two Southern teams with the best chance to throw a scare into a 2 seed are Davidson and CofC. CofC has the best OOC win for the league this season, winning on the road against a ranked Baylor team. CofC has a talented, experience guard to lead them and some serious size in the post. Davidson has essentially the same personnel who won at Kansas last season and then gave Louisville a great game in the tournament. I guess I have to give the nod to Davidson, since CofC has no experience in NCAA tournament play. But if either team wants to win a game in the Big Dance, they have to hope for a 13 or 14 seed. That would probably require losing no more than 1 more game this season and getting a nice win in the Bracket Buster game.

Elon- Conventional wisdom would suggest College of Charleston because they are only team in the Conference with a win against an RPI Top 25 team.  Elon and Davidson are fair selections too as each team currently hold a respectable 13-7 overall record.

Furman- Davidson--For two reasons: Perimeter shooting and foul shooting. The Wildcats do the two things well that you have to do to spring upsets in the Big Dance. They are the only team of the 12 that could be competitive as a 15 seed or lower with college basketball's big boys.

Samford- Davidson and I don’t think there is a close second. They’ve got quality bigs (to the extent De’Mon Brooks is a big) and good guards. They’re well-coached and will have the right scout on their opponent. If they get hot outside, they will give their opponent headaches. I realize that you are what your record says you are, but I think Davidson’s best basketball is yet to be played. They’ve been battle-tested against tough opponents OOC. The bright lights won’t be a factor for them.

The Citadel- Davidson is the only team in the league that I feel would have a chance of winning a game against a top 10 team in March. No other squad in the league has the requisite size/skill/athleticism to pull off such an upset.

Western Carolina- There can be no doubt that the best equipped team to advance in the dance is the one team with the most experience playing in the tournament, Davidson. But will they advance?  For the most part this season, Davidson has won the games they should have won, with Drexel & GSU being exceptions, but they haven’t quite crossed that threshold, of being able to pull out the big wins, again the exception this year is Richmond.   


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