Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mocs 81, Western Carolina 72

What a great performance by the Mocs!

I'm going to hold off on proclaiming that the Mocs have turned the corner, because this was only their second straight good game, but it is the first time heading into the game that I was asking that question and the Mocs actually won.

The Mocs came into the game as a sizable underdog, and they needed to win both games while Samford lost both games for the Mocs to get the fourth bye. I picked on the blog yesterday for the Mocs to lose and for Samford to win. So, needless to say, I was not giving the Mocs much chance heading into the weekend.

Yet, the Mocs jumped out to a 12-0 lead on their way to this win and Appalachian State survived against Samford, after trailing by eight in the closing minutes to come back and tie it, send it to overtime, eventually to double overtime, and hold on to win.

So now the Mocs head into Saturday in a very important game for Appalachian State and the Mocs. If Appalachian State wins, they get the bye. If the Mocs win and Western Carolina beats Samford, the Mocs get the bye. If the Mocs win and Samford beats Western Carolina, the Bulldogs get the bye.

They head into it with a lot of momentum. Brandon Boggs scored 21 points for the Catamounts, while Z Mason had 25 points and 14 rebounds. Rico White had 19 points, while Gee McGhee had 12.

The game was hampered badly by foul calls. There were 30 fouls called on Western Carolina and 23 fouls called on the Mocs. That means 53 total fouls were called for the game. That is an unreasonably high number. I was even frustrated with the number of fouls being called on Western Carolina, not to mention the Mocs. It was just creating a slow paced game that was choppy.

Some of that choppiness allowed Western Carolina to get back into the game. Tawaski King scored 12 points and had 12 rebounds. Trey Sumler was not good. Boggs had four fouls for much of the second half, and actually fouled out at one point, but then the refs changed who the foul was on, and Boggs scored eight points after that. He nearly brought them back after he fouled out.

The Mocs did not do a good job on the defensive glass. They allowed Western Carolina to get over 45% of the rebounds on the offensive side of the ball. I said yesterday the Mocs needed to hold them down to around 25%. They did not do that. Yet the Mocs won, in large part thanks to good shooting. They made 54.2% from the floor. That was really good shooting. The Mocs also only turned the ball over eight times. That was such a problem earlier in the year. The Mocs have really gotten that under control and that is why they have been more successful.

Z Mason needs one more solid game to all but seal 1st team All SoCon. That's my thought, anyway. He was brilliant tonight. Gee McGhee had a solid performance. He needs a big night against Appalachian State to help his case for Freshman of the Year.

Only seven guys played double digit minutes tonight. Jones, Mason, White, and McGhee all played over 30. They seemed to be energized by that much playing time. That was an encouraging sign moving forward.

The 19 point lead nearly evaporated, but Western Carolina could not get over the hump. Thanks to that, the Mocs still have a shot at the bye heading into the final day of the regular season. Given where the season started, what the expectations were preseason, and where Moc fans were a week ago (coming off a 28 point home loss to UNCG), this is an unexpected development.


Four Factors Western Carolina

Catamounts- 45.0%
Mocs- 57.3%
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 19.7%
Mocs- 12.6%
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 46.3%
Mocs- 37.9%
Advantage- Catamounts

Catamounts- 41.7%
Mocs- 81.3%
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 36.7%
Mocs- 16.7%

SoCon Pick 'Em- 2/28/13

1) DC_Int'l 75
2) Hugh Hughes 74
3t) Muskie24 72
3t) WildCock 72
5) GoalCat 71
6t) Clarkdr21 69
6t) SoConJohn 69
6t) Bill Casey 69
9t) David 68
9t) T Dog 68
11) JohnMoc 67
12t) Jerry Love 66
12t) Jay 66
14) half-n-half 65
15) CougarSurf11 63
15t) AP 63 
17) DashSpartan 56
18) WinthropSpartan 55
19) Cujo 27
20) earle & patty 21
21t) GACoug 20
21t) BVGerd 20
23) Waitress 18
24) Mike 17
25t) bdf 15
25t) ChasCougs 15
27) Coug04 14
28) Chris 12
29) Joe 7
30) ElonFireFighter 6

Good luck as we head into the final day of the regular season! Huge day for a lot of reasons- including our SoCon Pick 'Em Standings!

Daily Dribbles- 2/28/13

--Davidson beat Elon in a match-up of the top two seeds in the SoCon Tournament. Lucas Troutman did play, and Elon was in the game the whole way. But Davidson won in the end, behind Chris Czerapowicz scoring 20 points. It would be a good championship match-up to see those two in it in twelve days.

--Eric Ferguson scored just five points, but Georgia Southern managed to win at UNCG. It was a close game throughout, and now the Spartans have to beat Elon to avoid the ten seed in the SoCon Tournament. From expected two seed preseason to the ten seed. Ouch.

--The Citadel is home against Furman and can clinch the eleven seed. They can not catch UNCG, because the Spartans destroyed the Bulldogs.

--A Samford win over Appalachian State ends the fourth bye race. What happens? Huge match-up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Western Carolina Preview: Corner Turned?

There is no way to know the answer to this question until the game in Cullowhee has ended. But the Mocs have been plagued by this question at several different points this year. Have the Mocs turned the corner?

The last time this question was asked was just before the Wofford game less than two weeks ago. They answered that question by losed by 20 at Wofford, and then coming home and losing by 28 to UNCG. So the answer was no.

Now, following a rousing upset of Elon in the home finale, the Mocs are able to ask the question one more time. Have they turned the corner? Are they now going to be able to be a consistent team and win a game or two on this road trip? Or are they going to prove once again, that the only thing that we know for sure about the Mocs is that they will be maddeningly inconsistent?

On Thursday, the Mocs take on Western Carolina, who beat the Mocs 90-81 in Chattanooga earlier this year. In that one, Tom Tankelwicz was a dominant presence. He made seven threes and scored 21 points. He only took nine shots. He is averaging 10.1 points per game on the year and shooting 39.3% from three point range. Tankelwicz (like Chris Czerapowicz of Davidson) can light it up, and when he is shooting well, his team becomes much more difficult to beat. If Tankelwicz is not as hot as he was in the first one, that would be a big boost to the Mocs chances.

Brandon Boggs also had a huge game in the first contest in Chattanooga. He scored 19 on 9 of 11 shooting. He's averaging 10.5 points per game. He scored 26 against Coastal Carolina on Saturday. He had only averaged 6.3 points per game in the four games prior to that. So Boggs had been struggling some.

But make no mistake. The best player on the roster is Trey Sumler. He is averaging 18.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He has only been held in single digits three times this whole year. He is shooting 36.2% from three point range. He is an 83.4% shooter from the free throw line, and scored 25 against Chattanooga, aided by 10 of 10 from the charity stripe. Sumler only scored 12 against Coastal Carolina and had three assists and seven turnovers. Yes, the Catamounts won by ten. It could have been much worse if Sumler had played better.

Tawaski King is a very critical player to the Catamounts. He is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game and 11.2 points per game. King does a lot of the little things like Harouna Mutombo did last year for the Catamounts. King also played very wll last year in the SoCon Tournament. He needs to go out and start getting on a roll to prepare himself for the tournament.

The Catamounts rank 2nd in the SoCon in OR%, while the Mocs rank 1st in DR%. The Mocs are 3rd in OR%, and the Catamounts are 8th in DR%. In other words, the battle on the Catamounts offensive glass will be critical to the game, and the Mocs will need to get a lot of second chance points in order to stick around in this game. The Mocs get to the free throw line more than any other team in the SoCon, while Western Carolina fouls more than any other team in the SoCon except The Citadel.

--The rebounding battle on the Catamounts offensive end of the floor will be one of the most important stats in this game. If the Mocs can get 75% of the defensive rebounds in this game, they will really help their chances. If it is closer to 65%, then the Catamounts will have a big edge.
--Sumler will have a much better game this time around.
--Gee McGhee will continue his current hot play, and so will Z Mason.
--Drazen Zlovaric, who has been playing better since the first Western Carolina game, will continue to play well.
--Western Carolina 78, Mocs 71. The Mocs have played better on Thursdays in general in SoCon play. They are 4-2 on Thursdays. While that may be a fluke, it happens when they have a little bit of time off between games. Of course, last week, the Mocs were blown out by UNCG on a Thursday. So, who knows if that has any bearing or not. Still, look for the Mocs to play better than they played in the Wofford and UNCG games. Look for the Mocs to make this one interesting, but for Sumler and Tankelwicz to make key shots down the stretch and come up with the win.


Battle of North vs. South- 2/27/13

Wednesday Scores

Davidson (S) 69
Elon (N) 63

Georgia Southern (S) 66
UNCG (N) 60

at North
North- 12
South- 12

at South
North- 13
South- 11

North- 25
South- 23


The North beat the South this year, but the South really narrowed the gap at the end. The South is making up a ton of ground on the North here at the end. The question is if they will be able to win the Battle of North vs. South: Tournament Edition. We'll see. This should be an interesting finish to the year. College of Charleston and Davidson went 15-1 against the North, and the rest of the South went 8-24 against the North. That is how the North won this battle.

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Samford at Appalachian State

The Battle for the Fourth Bye comes down to this. Samford needs to only win this game and they will get the bye. If Appalachian State beats Samford and Chattanooga, they will get the bye. This is how the bye is decided.

Of course, it is not completely how the bye is decided. Both Western Carolina and Chattanooga can still get the fourth bye. However, this is the game that dictates what matters from this point forward. While Western Carolina and Chattanooga are battling in Cullowhee, they will be keeping an eye on the scoreboard to see the result of this one.

The Bulldogs beat Appalachian State 72-68 earlier this year. Raijon Kelly leads Samford in scoring with 14.8 points per game and also has 4.8 assists per game. He has made his way into the discussion for the All SoCon teams. Kelly is shooting 43.4% from three point range. Kelly also averages almost one steal per game. His assists to turnover is 1.4.

Tim Williams ia also a contender for an All SoCon team and for Freshman of the Year. He's averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, and 14.3 points per game. He is shooting 54% from the floor. He's also come up with 1.2 blocks per game.

Williams is not the only contender for an All Freshman team on the Bulldogs. Clide Geffrard Jr. is also one of the top freshman in the league. He's averaging 11.4 points per game and is second on the team in rebounding, with 4.4 boards per contest. Tyler Hood scored fourteen against UNCG last time out, and is averaging 8.2 points per game. He is shooting 36.5% from three point range.

Samford is last in the league in OR% and is seventh in DR%. The Bulldogs leads the league in eFG% at 54.5%. They are shooting 41.5% from three point range, which is also tops in the SoCon. They are the best in the league at forcing turnovers too.

Appalachian State is lead by Nathan Healy. He leads the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game, rebounding at 7.6 boards per contest, steals with 1.9 per game, and blocks with 1.4. He is among the SoCon leaders in all those categories as well. Healy also is shooting 40.2% from three point range and nearly 50% from the floor.

Mike Neal leads the team in assists with 3.4 per game. He's also averaging nine points per game and 1.1 steals per game. He was out early in the year, and Neal has been playing well since he returned, and the Mountaineers have been much better since then as well.

Jay Canty averages 14.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, along with 2.8 assists per game. He is second in all of those categories on the team. Canty and Healy combined are both excellent contributors to the team and will have to have huge games in the future. Tab Hamilton may be the most explosive three point shooter on the team. Healy is even better percentage-wise. However, Hamilton is shooting 38.3% from three point range. He averages 9.9 points per game.

Appalachian State is mediocre in rebounding percentages. They are the third best team in the SoCon in three point field goal percentage defense. They are ranked second to last in the conference in forcing turnovers.

--The Mountaineers will make some threes.
--The Bulldogs will challenge the Mountaineers three point defense.
--Williams and Geffrard will have big games in the lane, and Kelly will also have a decent game.

--Samford 67, Appalachian State 65. This game is as 50/50 as they come. Who knows who will win this game? With the way The Citadel walked into Boone and won last week, it makes me wonder if the Mountaineers have quit on the season. Maybe they have. That's the reason that I picked Samford. Healy will have a solid game, and Williams will too. This is going to be huge. In the end, Samford locks down the fourth bye.

Daily Dribbles- 2/27/13

--The Spartans and Eagles play on Wednesday night. The loser is almost guaranteed the ten seed, unless they can beat Elon or Davidson on Saturday. The winner could get up to the seven seed without any real upsets happening. These two could wind up meeting again next Friday night.

--Davidson-Elon tonight will be available on Elon's website. Check it out.

--Samford's trip to Appalachian State and Chattanooga's trip to Western Carolina on Thursday night should be a fun night of trying to figure out the final bye.

--The Citadel hosts Furman in the Pillow Fight of the Week. The loser is likely to be the 12th seed, while the winner is the likely 11th seed. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Case for Z- He Demands SoCon Respect

Yesterday, I made the case for Gee McGhee to win Freshman of the Year. Tonight, I'll attempt to make an equal case for Z Mason to be 1st Team All SoCon. I think a case could be made for him to be SoCon Player of the Year, but that is an unlikely event given that Z is not playing for one of the big three schools in the SoCon this year.

Z Mason is one of just three players to be in the Top Ten for the season in points and rebounds. He is tenth in points and fourth in rebounds. Mike Groselle of The Citadel is fourth in points and third in rebounds, while Nathan Healy is ninth in points and second in rebounding. Mason is twelfth in the league in field goal percentage and tenth in blocked shots. So, it's easy to see that Mason is consistently near the top of the league statistically.

In SoCon games only, only two players rank in the Top 4 in points and rebounds. Mason is tied for fourth in scoring and tied for fourth in rebounding. Healy is tied for fourth in points with Mason, and is first in rebounding. So, again, Mason has clearly established that he is one of the top players in the league. Just for the record, Healy probably deserves to be on the first team as well.

But that does not tell the whole story. The fact is that this year's Mocs team desperately needed leadership. Mason had to really take control of the team. He had to become the vocal leader on this club, and it appears that is exactly what he has done. He went out and worked hard and made sure that the Mocs worked hard.

Yes, this Mocs team has been blown out, and has struggled at various times, but the effort has been there most nights. That is thanks to Mason, who has been one of the ultimate leaders.

He is one of the big favorites to win the SoCon Player of the Year next year. I hope he gets the recognition he deserves this year for 1st Team All SoCon, and possibly Player of the Year. He has been a leader on the floor, and a leader off the floor, for a team that was picked to finish eleventh in the SoCon preseason, and is guaranteed to finish higher than that (although how much, no one knows, yet).


Daily Dribbles- 2/26/13

--Purple & Gold has an early preview of Thursday night's battle between Western Carolina and Chattanooga in Cullowhee.

--Just in case I haven't done enough to promote the SoCon Tournament yet, here's a link for those planning to go to Asheville.

--Davidson and Elon hook up Wednesday night. I think the Phoenix view this game as more important than the Wildcats. The Phoenix really want to prove they can beat the best in the SoCon. Davidson has no doubts that they can beat Elon. This game means nothing in terms of seeding, which makes it a great match-up, but one that means very little in the grand scheme of things.

--UNCG plays host to Georgia Southern on Wednesday night. The winner is in line to make a run at the seventh seed or maybe even higher with the right breaks. The loser is in line to fall to the tenth seed. It's actually fairly important to both teams seeding.

--The race for Freshman of the Year should be between Tim Williams of Samford and Gee McGhee of Chattanooga. Here's the case for McGhee.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Case For Gee

The Mocs are playing for a bye this week, but there are a couple of players also competing for personal awards as the season wraps up.

The most interesting case may be for Gee McGhee, who is trying to win the Freshman of the Year.

Tim Williams of Samford, the player that is McGhee's biggest competition for Freshman of the Year, is averaging 14.1 points per game and is 13th in the SoCon. Williams is third in the SoCon in shooting percentage, and sixth in rebounding. Williams is also fourth in blocked shots, and seventh in steals.

McGhee ranks 20th in the SoCon in scoring at 11.9 points per game. He is 15th in the league in assists, and ranks eighth in steals per game.

In other words, his overall stats are not that far off from what Williams has done. It is surprising considering how much better most people consider Williams to be when compared to McGhee.

Then, when you look even closer, things get even more interesting. When looking at stats in SoCon play, McGhee actually ranks 11th in scoring at 14.2 points per game, while Williams is 12th at 14.1.  Williams is tied with Eric Ferguson, and both are ahead of Derrell Armstrong, Jack Isenbarger, Andrew Lawrence, and De'Mon Brooks. This tells you how well both have played in SoCon games this year. Williams is just tenth in rebounding in SoCon games. He is still third in shooting, while McGhee is 14th in assists. In terms of steals, Williams is sixth and McGhee is eighth. McGhee is also 14th in three point percentage.

In other words, in SoCon games, the two guys are basically equal players. It is almost impossible to distinguish between the two, given that they play vastly different positions. It is actually very exciting to have two candidates that both deserve consideration for being on a postseason All SoCon team (whether that be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team) that are both freshman. This speaks well for the future of the league.

McGhee is fighting the battle of perception. All season people expected Williams to win this award. He started off strong, and his play has not really diminished. The fact is that McGhee's performance has jumped, and he has basically demanded that he be in this conversation. In the last eleven games, McGhee has scored at least twelve points each time out, and is averaging 17.0 points during that stretch. He's also averaging 5.0 rebounds during that stretch and 2.2 assists. He's shooting 68.5% from the free throw line during that stretch, getting to the line about 8.5 times per game. If you take out the College of Charleston game where he went 3 of 9, he has shot 72.3% from the free throw line during this stretch run.

In other words, McGhee has had a huge run down the stretch. He has forced his way into a conversation that looked closed at the beginning of January. He deserves a ton of credit for that. I want the voters to at least really seriously consider McGhee when making their decision about the Freshman of the Year, because the case is compelling. It is good to have two worthy candidates this year, and I hope all the voters take a couple of minutes to really consider who they should be voting for.

Daily Dribbles- 2/25/13

--Wednesday's game between Elon and Davidson doesn't matter in the SoCon standings, but everyone knows that game should be very exciting. Don't forget- Elon has free streaming video on their site. Everyone interested in SoCon basketball should tune in. The Phoenix are really pointing to this one. Will Lucas Troutman play?

--Dash provides look back at UNCG's close loss to Samford on Saturday evening.

--A review by King Kresse of the utterly disappointing College of Charleston home loss to Gardner-Webb in BracketBusters is here.

--The SoCon went 2-2 in the BracketBusters, and lost the season series to the Big South, 10-8. I was disappointed in how both Davidson and College of Charleston performed in BracketBusters. At home against lesser teams, both should have won. College of Charleston lost, and Davidson (who should have won by closer to double digits) went to overtime. This tells me that the SoCon really is not improving as the year goes on, and that the Cougars and Wildcats records are partly due to the weak competition in the SoCon. Do I think the Wildcats or Cougars could do damage in the NCAA if they get there? Sure. But I feel less good about it than I did last week at this time.

--TheSportsArsenal provides a list of schools that have not been to the Big Dance in a long long time, if ever. It's a good read and a good list.

--The Battle for the Fourth Bye is almost complete. This week will bring it to a conclusion, and here is a wrap up of who gets it in every scenario.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Seventeen

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

Davidson at Elon
Georgia Southern at UNCG

Samford at Appalachian State
Chattanooga at Western Carolina
Furman at The Citadel
Wofford at College of Charleston (ESPN3)

Georgia Southern at Davidson
Chattanooga at Appalachian State
College of Charleston at Furman
Samford at Western Carolina
UNCG at Elon
The Citadel at Wofford


1) Davidson 132 (11)
2) College of Charleston 117
3) Elon 114
4) Samford 97
5) Western Carolina 87
6) Appalachian State 78
7) Chattanooga 60
8) UNCG 50
9) Wofford 48
10) Georgia Southern 42
11) The Citadel 21
12) Furman 12


Davidson at Elon (6 votes)

Others Receiving Votes: Samford at Appalachian State (4 votes), Samford at Western Carolina (1)


Sum up your team.

Chattanooga- The SoCon is full of wildly inconsistent teams. I’m not sure if there is one more inconsistent than the Mocs. They lost by nearly thirty points at home by UNCG. Then they beat Elon a couple days later. Explain this? I can’t. The Mocs have Gee McGhee and Z Mason, who are both among the Top 15 or 20 players in the league, I think. McGhee has been a pleasant revelation that has only gotten better as the year has gone on. The Mocs could beat any team in the SoCon at the tournament, but lose to any team by twenty as too.

Furman- It's been an unprecedented season for all the wrong reasons for Furman basketball, as the Paladins have suffered season-ending injuries to starters Stephen Croone and Charlie Reddick since I last wrote, bringing the total to three starters now down with season-ending injuries. Croone and Reddick are joined by Dominic Early and Jordan Loyd, with the Paladins now being without four significant pieces that head coach Jeff Jackson planned on having from the outset of the season. Jackson's 20 losses in 2012-13 now affords him some a record he would rather not be recognized for. He becomes the lone coach in Furman's basketball annals to record three 20-loss seasons in a career, and with only seven players dressing for the Paladins, the Paladins could match the 24-loss campaign in Jackson's third-year as head coach. On a brighter note, Furman's Colin Reddick continued his strong senior season, and is coming off a 22-point performance in the Paladins' most-recent outing against Georgia Southern. He's been just about the only offense as of late, with the losses of Charlie Reddick and Stephen Croone to season-ending injuries.

Georgia Southern- Thing are so bad in Statesboro that twice as many viewers were watching a rain delay during our baseball game yesterday than were watching the basketball game that was going on at the same time. So yes, most people would rather watch it rain than watch GSU play basketball right now. This team lacks any desire or intensity and is just downright boring to watch. Coach Young and his staff have done a great job of bringing in some very good basketball players, but the results once those players get on campus have been terrible. GSU is 32-82 against D1 opponents under CY and that will leave the new AD with an interesting decision to make in a couple weeks. Is he willing to have his first big move since being hired be firing a coach who is not only a fan favorite but also a former GSU basketball player?

Western Carolina- Like many SoCon teams this season, the roller coaster ride of wins and losses continue for the Catamount.  In the last three weeks, the Catamounts have gone 4-4, losing to App State, Davidson,  Elon, and Charleston, but picking up wins against GSU, Wofford, and UNCG, as well as winning their BracketBuster game against Coastal Carolina in a convincing fashion.   I think the Cats may be jelling at the right time, dispite a 1-2 record in their last three games, as the Cats took Elon (at Elon) into overtime and lost to Charleston by 2 in a game that could have easily gone the other way.  The Cats have won 4 of their last 6 but the next two games will give me a good indication they are peaking. If the Cats can pick up wins at home over a resurgent Chattanooga and the current #2 team in the North Division (Samford), I think Western’s prospect for running deep in the tournament are good.

Everyone knows Davidson, Elon, and College of Charleston are the top three teams. Which team other than those three do you not want in your half of the bracket?

Appalachian State- Davidson. I would rather be a #6 and be with CofC and Elon than a #4 or #5 and possibly play Davidson in the semifinals. I saw my team play Davidson twice in person and everything went wrong both times. Only way I want to see them is in the finals because we'd be playing with house money at that point.

Chattanooga- I would probably prefer to avoid Wofford. Their style of play does not suit the Mocs particularly well at this juncture in the game. The Mocs were blown out twice by UNCG, but I still think the Mocs could beat UNCG if they played them again. But the Terriers could be a very bad match-up for the Mocs, particularly since they are playing better right now. I don’t think anyone really wants to see them in their bracket thanks to their tournament success in recent years.

Furman- There's actually two teams I don't want to see on my SoCon Tournament bracket, with one of those teams being Western Carolina and the other being Samford. The Catamounts will have a huge throng of faithful followers at the Cintas Center once again this season, and with the way the Catamounts shot the basketball with that rowdy backing, and with a player like Trey Sumler, they have a shot against anyone--even Davidson. They say it's always dangerous to play a team with nothing to lose. That's Samford in a nutshell--a team that no one really expects to win the tournament, but a team athletic and young enough to do just that. With Clide Geffrard, Jr, Raijon Kelly, and Tim Williams offering a pretty powerful freshmen-sophomore trio.

Georgia Southern- Samford. Teams that are well coached and have a good offensive big man give Georgia Southern fits. Probably because we don't have either of those things. Plus we already lost to them back in December when they weren't even playing well.

UNCG- Wofford seems to somehow turn every game with UNCG into an ugly, awful affair. I'd prefer to see them as far away from my Spartans as possible.

Western Carolina- I’m going to be a homer here, and pick WCU. I think I answered the why in my last answer, but I believe the Cats will protect the home court, and pick up difficult wins over UTC and Samford.  I think UTC and/or Samford will knock off ASU.

Of those three (Davidson, Elon, and College of Charleston), which team do you think your team has the best chance against?

Appalachian State- Elon. Should have won down in Alumni Gym and beat them solidly in
Boone. I like our chances on a neutral court.

Chattanooga- I think the Mocs match-up reasonably well with College of Charleston and Elon
both. The Mocs actually beat Elon, and I think they are capable of beating the Cougars. I guess I would go with Elon, because the Mocs can outrebound the Phoenix, and if they are not hitting their threes, the Mocs would have a chance to win again against them.

Furman- With seven players, Furman has no shot against any of those three. However, I think if I have to pick which one will offer the least margin of victory, I guess I choose CofC, as Colin Reddick ate the Cougars alive in the paint in the first meeting, with a season and career-high 25 points.

Georgia Southern- Elon or Davidson. Charleston is the only team in the conference that is on the same page as Georgia Southern athletically. GSU has already shown this year what can happen when they spread the floor and force teams like Davidson to defend us 1 on 1. They can't do it and that's why Georgia Southern beat Davidson this year. Unfortunately GSU makes it easy for opponents by using a terrible high ball screen offense with no movement and it defeats the purpose of having all that athleticism. This is why GSU will most likley get bounced early from the SoCon tournament because they couldn't crack 60 points.

Western Carolina- I think that Davidson would be the most difficult for the Cats to match up with, and the Cats have proven in the last week they could compete with both Elon and Charleston.  I do think, if the Cats were able to control their fouls, and not put good foul shooting teams on the charity strip, they can beat all three team.  The free throw line is where Davidson, Elon, & Charleston beat the Catamounts in their final game with each.

With BracketBusters now officially dead, prepare for us a eulogy to discuss them.

Appalachian State- Oh Bracketbusters, a product of its time. It was great in the first 2-3 years, but got so saturated that like all once-good ideas, it needed to evolve or die. With top mid-majors scheduling each other on a regular basis now, it lost a purpose. It did what it needed to do in creating connections among the little guys and making each other stronger. Farewell Bracketbusters, it was magical for a while.

Chattanooga- The BracketBusters were always one of my favorite days of the college basketball season. I loved watching the best mid-major teams in the country playing each other all on one day. It was fun. They lived a good life, but were at their best in their younger years, when they did not have so many mid-majors playing each other. I will miss the BracketBusters now that they are gone. They did not live quite long enough. However, maybe there is a fraternal twin brother out there that will be really good for mid-majors too.

Furman- Well BracketBuster, it has been fun...Thanks for the memories of College of Charleston-George Mason (2009), Appaalchian State-Wichita State (2007) and this past year's meeting between Davidson-Montana. Three of the best Bracket Buster meetings I can ever remember, with that D.J. Thompson tear-drop lay-up with only seconds to play shocking the shockers being my most vivid memory of the SoCon's involvement.

Georgia Southern- I will be sad to see the BrackeBusters go away because it was nice for the midmajors to get some recognition. I'm really hoping that ESPN or somebody else will set up a midmajor tournament early in the season each year. By now a lot of these "mid majors" are name programs and I think a lot of people would tune in to watch a tournament that had Butler, Gonzaga, Murray St, Davidson, Memphis, etc. playing in it.

Samford- "I'm glad the Bracket Busters are done. It's high time these games were sent to the dustbin of history. All they do is complicate travel and planning during crucial conference games. They have overstayed their welcome." --Jimmy Tillette. "We survived longer than you, professor." --Bracket Busters

Western Carolina- BracketBuster is gone, let it rest.  BracketBuster had good and bad points, the main problem, teams had to sign up for BracketBuster prior to the start of the season, not knowing what kind of season they’d actually have.  For those teams that were doing well and with good RPI’s, BracketBuster could bring them an opportunity against another good team with a good RPI, and a victory over that out of conference game, could make a difference come NCAA tournament time.  However, those teams with poor records (hello WCU) drew other teams with just as poor record and RPI. If you lose to that other out of conference team, in the midst of your conference play, it can be a big distraction for the team, the saving grace there was, it added another D1, out of conference game to your schedule, especially for those teams that have difficulty scheduling D1 out of conference games, including for the following season.

SoCon Monster Game of the Week Announcement

As you know by now, the SoCon Monster Game of the Week gets picked by the person who covers the previous week's winner for Scanning the SoCon. That person can not choose a game their team is playing in.

Last week's game was Elon at Chattanooga, which means that I get to pick this week's Monster Game of the Week.

While Davidson's trip to Elon is clearly the one that represents the first match-up of the year between the teams that are going to be the top two seeds in the SoCon Tournament, and therefore a very interesting game, I did not choose that one. Why? Because those top two seeds have already been locked up, and they can not switch spots no matter the result of this game. No- the most important game is the one that helps determine the fourth and final bye spot. No team has won four game in four days to win the SoCon Tournament, so getting a bye is critical to your chances to winning the tournament and getting the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Appalachian State and Samford both control their own destiny on this front. If Appalachian State wins home games against Samford and Chattanooga, the Mountaineers will get the fourth bye. If Samford beats Appalachian State, they will get the fourth bye. If Samford loses, it opens the door, not only for Appalachian State, but for the winner of the Western Carolina-Chattanooga game in Cullowhee going on at the same time. The Thursday night game in Boone between Appalachian State and Samford could not be any bigger. That's why it is this weeks SoCon Monster Game of the Week.

SoCon Pick 'Em- Week Nine

Here are the standings through last week. The two point game is Samford at Appalachian State this week. Should be a fun finish! Be sure to check out the SoCon Tournament Pick 'Em, which will open for picks next Sunday.

Wednesday (picks due by 6:00 PM Eastern)
Davidson at Elon
Georgia Southern at UNCG

Thursday (picks due by 6:00 PM Eastern)
Samford at Appalachian State
Chattanooga at Western Carolina
Furman at The Citadel
Wofford at College of Charleston (ESPN3)

Saturday (picks due by 1:00 PM Eastern)
Chattanooga at Appalachian State
Georgia Southern at Davidson
College of Charleston at Furman
Samford at Western Carolina
UNCG at Elon
The Citadel at Wofford

Good luck!

Battle for the Fourth Bye: Closing Arguments

So it comes down to this. After carefully studying the tiebreaker procedures, asking the league office if I am right about all the different tiebreakers, and finally trying to discover what happens in every possible situation.

Based on those e-mails and discussions, here is how the Battle for the Fourth Bye plays out.

--If Samford beats Appalachian State on Thursday night, Samford gets the bye, regardless of what happens in any other game.

--If Samford loses to Appalachian State, beats Western Carolina, and Appalachian State loses to Chattanooga, Samford gets the bye.

--If Appalachian State wins both games, Appalachian State gets the bye.

--If Samford loses both games, and Appalachian State beats Chattanooga, Appalachian State gets the bye.

--If Western Carolina wins both games, and Chattanooga beats Appalachian State, and Appalachian State beats Samford, Western Carolina gets the bye.

--If Samford loses both games, and Chattanooga wins both games, Chattanooga gets the bye.

In other words, two teams control their own destiny in the bye race- Appalachian State and Samford. The Thursday game between those two could easily determine who gets the final bye this year in the SoCon.

With Chattanooga and Samford going to Western Carolina and Appalachian State this weekend, it is going to be a very interesting weekend. The chances of the Mocs getting the bye is an incredibly longshot. Who is the favorite to get the bye?

Here is what I think.

Appalachian State lost at home to The Citadel last week. I don't think they are consistent enough to win both games. They can win one game (not sure against who), but will have a difficult time winning the second one. That means that Samford has to be the favorite. Western Carolina I think has a real shot as well. The Mocs chances are remote, but if they play like they played against Elon, they will have a shot at winning both games (remote though it is), and then what matters is if Samford wins a game or not.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on Samford. But with how wild this bye race has been, I wouldn't want to bet against any team.

SoCon Pick 'Em Standings- 2/23/13

Another great week:

1t) Hugh Hughes 70
1t) DC_Int'l 70
3) WildCock 69
4) Muskie24 68
5) GoalCat 67
6) SoConJohn 66
7t) JohnMoc 65
7t) David 65
7t) Clarkdr21 65
7t) T Dog 65
11) Bill Casey
12) Jay 63
13t) Jerry Love 62
13t) half-n-half 62
15) AP 60
16) CougarSurf11 59
17) WinthropSpartan 55
18) DashSpartan 53
19) Cujo 27
20) earle & patty 21
21t) GACoug 20
21t) BVGerd 20
23) Waitress 18
24) Mike 17
25t) ChasCougs 15
25t) bdf 15
27) Coug04 14
28) Chris 12
29) Joe 7
30) ElonFireFighter 6

Good luck in the final week of the regular season!

Mocs 72, Elon 68

Well, that was interesting.

It was surprising, unexpected, and just downright fun- if you were a Mocs fan.

We should have seen it coming. Many of the things that were said in the preview played out. Elon played well, but was clearly in a bit of a trap game. The Phoenix did not play Lucas Troutman in this game, in hopes of having him ready for Davidson on Wednesday night, and then having him ready for the SoCon Tournament in two weeks. Those things all played into the Mocs hands.

But no matter what else is said, there is no doubt that Gee McGhee and Casey Jones showed why the Mocs have a future. McGhee set a career high with 24 points and had eight rebounds to go along with it. He attacked the basket all night. When he does that, there are very few players in the SoCon that can keep up with him. We saw it early in the year against Kansas when he got into the lane relatively easily. Jones scored eight points and five rebounds. He showed a little spark. It may have been his best game of the year. Jones is a good player, and will be productive next year, I think.

I'm going to say again, take Rico White (who had a good night tonight for the Mocs), McGhee, and Z Mason (who scored ten with six rebounds) and you have a solid nucleus for next year. Throw in Casey Jones, if he continues to develop, and next year could be good....though wildly inconsistent.

I'm a little mad at myself for giving up on this team after the UNCG game. The Mocs have not given up in many games this year, coming back time and again against their SoCon opponents. They have lost big and then come back and played well previously. So why would this game be any different?

The Mocs dominated the boards against a decent Elon team. They only forced eight turnovers, while turning the ball over eleven times. Turning the ball over just eleven times is good for the Mocs.

Also, three Mocs played 29 minutes or more. This has been a consistent complaint about the Shulman era- that players don't play enough minutes. The best players played the most minutes tonight.

There was also a really nice length of the court drive by Drazen Zlovaric on his senior night. Congratulations to him for another solid night. He scored ten points on 5 of 9 shooting.

The Mocs have to win both games next week at Appalachian State and Western Carolina and Samford has to lose at both Appalachian State and Western Carolina for the Mocs to get the four seed. It's highly unlikely. Much more likely to lose two games and wind up anywhere from the seven seed they currently occupy to the ten seed. Who knows? Things could go anywhere for this team.

I really do think this team could win against any team on any given night in the SoCon or could lose on any given night to any given team. We'll see what that means in the SoCon Tournament. Who knows?

But for tonight, it's a good night to be a Moc fan!


Four Factors- Elon

Phoenix- 53.7%
Mocs- 55.3%
Advantage- Mocs

Phoenix- 12.8%
Mocs- 17.8%
Advantage- Phoenix

Phoenix- 24.0%
Mocs- 34.5%
Advantage- Mocs

Phoenix- 25.9%
Mocs- 61.7%
Advantage- Mocs

Phoenix- 50.0%
Mocs- 21.3%

Saturday, February 23, 2013

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Elon at Chattanooga

With the selection of Elon at Chattanooga as our Monster Game of the Week, we asked Tyler Ash from the Elon Pendulum and Scanning the SoCon some questions about the Phoenix. Here are his responses.

How important is it to Elon to have won the North?
Elon winning the North is a huge deal because now their road to winning the Southern Conference Championship got a lot easier. With a win, not only did Elon ensure a first round bye in the SoCon Tournament, but it also now guaranteed it will be a top 2 seed. Last year, Elon came in second in the North and got a first round bye but had to play the eventual Conference Tournament champion Davidson in the semi-finals in the tournament. With Elon and Davidson winning their respective divisions, the only way they can meet in the tournament is in the championship game, which is good news for Elon because Davidson is 15-1 in conference play this season.
Which player is the most important player on Elon's team?
 It is tough not to choose junior  guard Jack Isenbarger, given how many clutch shots and game winners he has hit for the Phoenix this season, not to mention how reliable he is from the free throw line (86.6 percent) and from three-point range (34.8), but I would still have to choose junior forward Lucas Troutman.  Not only does Troutman lead the team in scoring (14.9 PPG) but he is also a factor on the glass (5.4 RPG), something that is crucial given for an undersized Phoenix squad. Troutman is also a tough interior defender and is a great shot-blocker, leading the Southern Conference in blocks per game with 2.1.
What is one weakness that you think Chattanooga might be able to expose?
I would say the one weakness Chattanooga could expose tonight is that this is the perfect trap game. Elon is coming off winning the North Division Title on Thursday night and after they play Chattanooga tonight, it hosts Davidson on Wednesday night in a clash of the first place teams in the Southern Conference. Elon will want to make a statement at home on Wednesday night to prove to Davidson it can beat them in the tournament, so Elon is definitely looking forward towards playing them. If Chattanooga can come out with high energy, especially early in the game, it has a good chance to pull off the upset. Also, if star forward Lucas Troutman is out, Chattanooga, the # 1 rebounding team in the Conference, can use their its advantage to take down the Phoenix.
The SoCon Tournament starts soon. What chance do you give Elon of winning the whole thing?
I would give Elon a relatively good chance of winning the whole tournament. After securing a first round bye and a top two seed, Elon needs to win three conference tournament games to win it all. Elon is playing its best basketball of the season, winning 12 of its past 13 games. Elon should win its first conference game without too many issues but then will likely have to play College of Charleston in the second semi-finals. Charleston is the only Southern Conference team to beat Elon at Alumni Gym this season and could pose a huge threat to the Phoenix. If the Phoenix are able to beat Charleston, they will likely face off against Davidson in the Conference Championship game, which would be a very tough game.  But Elon has arguably its best team since entering Division 1 play in NCAA basketball so I would say Elon has a realistic chance of winning the tournament and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
Do you think Troutman should play or not on Saturday night? Do you think Troutman deserves to win SoCon Player of the Year?
I think Troutman should rest tonight and get himself ready for the clash against Davidson on Wednesday night. Elon has proven it can win games without Troutman (recently versus Appalachian State and at Samford) and the Phoenix should feel confident about beating a Chattanooga squad that is three games under .500 in conference play this year.
I think one could certainly make the case for Troutman to win SoCon Player of the Year, given that he is the leader of the Phoenix squad that just won the North division. Troutman also leads the conference in blocks, second in the conference in field goal percentage and is fifth in scoring, furthering his case for SoCon Player of the Year.
Thanks, Tyler! I appreciate it. Looking forward to a good game tonight!

Elon Preview: Picking Up the Pieces

The Mocs were humbled by Elon the last time the two met. The Mocs were humbled by UNCG the last time they took the floor.

So, basically, the Mocs know a thing or two about being humbled right now.

It is now time to pick up the pieces and try to move forward. The situation is more bleak than it was on Thursday for getting the fourth bye, the possibility is still out there (slim as it may be). The chance to finish fifth is very much alive, which would be almost as good as getting a bye. So there is still plenty on the line.

Elon clinched the North Division title on Thursday night when they won a thriller at Samford. The Phoenix have very little on the line right now. Yes, they want a 20 win season. Yes, they still have an outside shot at finishing with the best overall record in the SoCon. That chance relies entirely on winning out, including beating Davidson on Wednesday, and having the Wildcats blow their home finale against Georgia Southern. In other words, the odds are slim.

This is a bit of a trap game for the Phoenix, as they played an emotional game and won it on Thursday night and are looking ahead to Davidson on Wednesday. It would be easy for Elon to look past this one, especially after the way the Mocs played on Thursday night.

Elon is lead by SoCon Player of the Year candidate, Lucas Troutman. He is averaging 14.9 points per game, on 54.8% shooting, while averaging 5.4 rebounds per contest. Many people are expecting him not to play on Saturday night, as he rested his sore ankle on Thursday night. The ankle injury caused him to miss a game earlier this month. Troutman will probably play minimal minutes in this one, which only helps the Mocs.

Jack Isenbarger has been averaging 13.9 points per game. His shooting has been down this year. He is shooting just 34.8% from three point range. That being said, Isenbarger is one of those guys that is capable of going off and making five or six threes in a game. He is a very dangerous shooter. He also leads the current roster with 2.9 assists per game.

Ryley Beaumont is the leading rebounder. He is averaging 6.9 boards per contest. He also averages 11.4 points per game. He shoots nearly 50% from the field. Sebastian Koch also leads the team with 43.9% from three point range. Tanner Samson also is a decent three point shooter.


--With Austin Hamilton out, Troutman hobbled, and the Phoenix in a sandwich game, the Mocs will play this one closer than they should.
--Isenbarger will knock down a bunch of threes.
--Gee McGhee and Rico White will get to the free throw line consistently and make quite a few.
--Drazen Zlovaric will play well in his last game as a senior.
--Z Mason will have another type of game where he is a player of the year candidate.
--Elon 74, Mocs 61. The Mocs just can't keep it together right now. The Mocs are beat up emotionally right now. It is going to be hard for them to pick themselves back up. If they can pick it up, they have a very real chance. The Phoenix will make too many threes for the Mocs to overcome. Senior Night will end poorly.

Friday, February 22, 2013

BracketBusters Preview

It's time, one last time, for BracketBusters! Are you ready? I know I am. I've been enjoying watching North Dakota State and Akron tonight, and will enjoy a full day of BracketBuster action tomorrow. What will develop on Saturday when the SoCon takes the floor remains to be seen. There are four SoCon teams participating. I'm writing a brief write-up on each game.

Coastal Carolina (13-12) at Western Carolina (11-17) (2:00)

Why it matters: The SoCon trails the series with the Big South this year, 9-8. With three match-ups on Saturday between the two conferences, the conference battle comes down to Saturday. The Catamounts will try to get their momentum back after back-to-back crushing losses to Elon and College of Charleston. They also must win out to get back to .500 on the season (including two D1 wins of course).

Prediction: Western Carolina 64, Coastal Carolina 62. This is the most even of the games in the BracketBusters involving SoCon teams. The Catamounts have not been great at home, but this is a close game, and Western Carolina will find a way to get it done this time. They are the slightly better team. I always enjoy watching Trey Sumler play, and he makes the play at the end that wins it.

Montana (19-5) at Davidson (20-7) (3:00, ESPNU)

Why it matters: The Wildcats will be looking to extend their eleven game winning streak, while Montana is trying to get some momentum back after a blowout to Weber State ended their perfect run through the Big Sky. Can the Grizzlies possibly get things back going? This would be a nice win for either team, and both teams are hoping to come up with it. This game could impact seeding in the tournament, particularly for Montana if they can come up with the win.

Prediction: Davidson 76, Montana 63. Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks seem capable of dominating this game. The Wildcats are playing one of their most anticipated home games of the year, but the Grizzlies are not a whole lot of a match in this one. The Wildcats are the superior team, and should be ready for this one, and come up with a pretty easy win.

Gardner-Webb (17-11) at College of Charleston (20-8) (4:00)

Why it matters: Gardner Webb and College of Charleston both will head into their tournaments among the favorites, but will need to pull at least one upset along the way if they are to get into the NCAA Tournament. This game could act as a way to get either team going. Both teams really need the win to get going. Gardner-Webb has won seven out of eight games.

Prediction: College of Charleston 65, Gardner-Webb 56. The Cougars are playing so well on the defensive side of the ball, while Andrew Lawrence is the best player in this game. The Cougars are in bad need of coming up with a big home win, and while this one will not exactly attract attention nationally, it will still be a nice home win.

The Citadel (7-19) at Presbyterian (7-21) (7:45)

Why it matters: Which team is worse? These are two of the worst twenty-five teams in college basketball. According to the RPI, at least. Can the Bulldogs help the SoCon to win the season series against the Big South? The Blue Hose lost to Furman by 24 and to Appalachian State by eight earlier this year. Ouch. They would like to just beat a SoCon team.

Prediction: Presbyterian 75, The Citadel 74. The Bulldogs have been playing a little bit better lately. That being said, as bas as they are defensively, it is going to be tough to find a way to get the Bulldogs a win. The Blue Hose are almost as bad on the defensive side. According to Pomeroy, The Citadel is 346th in the country in defensive efficiency. Presbyterian is 343rd in the country. So expect some points, but don't expect good basketball.

Daily Dribbles- 2/22/13

--Elon clinched the North with the win over Samford on Thursday night. It was a thrilling game. Elon needs help to win the regular season title still. Davidson visits Elon next Wednesday. If Elon wins out, and Davidson loses to Georgia Southern, the Phoenix would have the SoCon's best record.

--The Mocs terrible loss to UNCG and Georgia Southern's home loss to Wofford basically eliminated both from the bye race, despite the fact that Samford lost as well. Three team race for the fourth bye- Samford, Western Carolina, and Appalachian State. Here. We. Go.

--Saturday's biggest game is UNCG's trip to Samford. If the Bulldogs can beat UNCG, then they will be in much better shape heading into next week's games against Western Carolina and Appalachian State.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

UNCG 94, Mocs 68

I truly am at a loss for words.

The Mocs, who were looking so much better just last week, suddenly look completely dead. The Spartans made an unbelievable 20 of 36 from three point range, including Nick Paulos making 10 of 12 from there. Paulos has always been a decent shooter, but tonight was unreal.

And they had no answer.



Trevis Simpson and Derrell Armstrong combined to go just 6 of 21 from the floor (if you told me that before the game, I would have taken the Mocs by double digits). They combined for seventeen points. The Mocs defense only forced six turnovers.

It was as bad of a loss as I could possibly imagine. I never dreamed that the Mocs would look this bad tonight.

I'm at a loss. Truly at a loss.

On top of all that, it came out that Farad Cobb was dismissed from the team. The prized recruit from last year's class has been underachieving this year, after lighting the world on fire at Kansas in November. But, he has been dismissed for undisclosed reasons, though the statement says it is not for any illegal activity. That implies that he was not going to class and/or being late to practice.


So there really is no good news coming out of tonight.

Jonathan Stark is coming in next year at point guard, and will be expected to contribute immediately with Cobb gone.

Yes, it was awful. And I have very few words (for the first time ever). My emotional energy is almost gone. I can only imagine how the team feels.

Let's see if they can get back up before the Elon game on Saturday. It's a quick turnaround. We'll see if they can pick themselves up.


Four Factors: UNCG

Spartans- 62.9%
Mocs- 40.6%
Advantage- Spartans

Spartans- 8.4%
Mocs- 20.6%
Advantage- Spartans

Spartans- 24.3%
Mocs- 28.2%
Advantage- Mocs

Spartans- 14.3%
Mocs- 62.3%
Advantage- Mocs

Spartans- 51.4%
Mocs- 22.6%

Daily Dribbles- 2/21/13

--College of Charleston survived Western Carolina on Wednesday night thanks to Andrew Lawrence's two free throws with less than a second left. The loss hurt the Catamounts chances of getting a bye.

--The Citadel's shocking road win over Appalachian State in overtime totally changes the bye picture. Western Carolina and Appalachian State are back to dead even. Chattanooga is within one game of Appalachian State and Western Carolina. Samford is up one game on the Catamounts and Mountaineers.

--Davidson pounded Furman. The Paladins lost 73-36. Ummm...ouch.

--Biggest game of Thursday night? Elon's trip to Samford. If Elon wins, the division is locked up. A Samford win would be huge in the bye race as well. This is a huge opportunity for the Bulldogs to really put a gap between them and the rest of the bye race. They would be up 1.5 games on the remaining teams in the bye race.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

UNCG Preview: 1000 Games Later

It's a special night for Chattanooga play-by-play man, Jim Reynolds. It is his 1000th game behind the microphone for the Mocs. It is truly a night to celebrate everything he has done for Mocs basketball.

The Mocs are coming off a loss that they really did not need to Wofford on the road on Saturday night. It wasn't a close loss, which I was expecting. It was a 20 point loss. Ouch.

UNCG has lost three straight games, the last two at home to Western Carolina and Appalachian State. This two game losing streak ensured that the Spartans would not be able to get the bye. The Spartans can guarantee the same thing for the Mocs by spoiling JR's 1000th game on Thursday night.

The first time the Mocs played UNCG, Trevis Simpson scored 41 points. Nick Paulos was the only other Spartan in double figures with eleven points. Simpson is one of the best players in the SoCon. He's averaging 19.4 points per game on 42.6% shooting from the field and 34.9% from three point range. He's also averaging 4.4 rebounds per game. Simpson is one of the most explosive players in the conference, and one of the most entertaining.

Derrell Armstrong is the second best UNCG player. He only scored two the first time the Mocs played the Spartans. He is averaging 14.9 points per game. He also is averaging 4.9 rebounds per game and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 35.9% from three point range. He is a very solid performer, and scored 20 and 18 in the two games last weekend.

Kayel Locke is averaging 10.5 points per game, along with 4.7 rebounds. He scored 16 last weekend against Appalachian State. He is the third and final Spartan to average in double figures.

Kelvin McNeil is averaging 5.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. He is 6-8, 230 pounds. That being said, he has been struggling a bit lately. He scored just five total points with four rebounds last weekend. Drew Parker leads the team with 2.7 assists per game.

UNCG ranks tenth in eFG%, eighth in OR%, and sixth in DR%. The Spartans play the fastest tempo in the league, but are one of the most inefficient offenses in the league according to Ken Pomeroy. They turn the ball over quite a bit. That being said they are a decent defensive team. But they put their opponents at the free throw line a lot, ranking last in the league in that category.

The Mocs like to get to the free throw line, and their recent pressure defense could certainly cause the Spartans some problems. If the Mocs can control the glass, they should be able to hang around in this one...even if Simpson goes off for a bunch of points again. They will need Armstrong to have another bad night, or slow Simpson down some. I don't know which- but one of those....


--The Mocs will dominate the boards against the Spartans.
--The Mocs good play at home will continue.
--Gee McGhee will spend a lot of time at the free throw line.
--Z Mason and Drazen Zlovaric will play very well in the paint, as they have been lately at home.
--Simpson and Armstrong will score in the neighborhood of 40 points....just like they combined for last time.
--Mocs 73, UNCG 67. The Mocs defense will help force some turnovers. Combine that with McGhee's ability to get to the line and recent hot streak from the free throw line, and I think the Mocs pull this one out. It will be tight until the end, but it won't be easy. The Mocs will ease closer to Western Carolina and Appalachian State in the standings, and be in good shape to put UNCG in their rear view mirror after this one.


Battle of North vs. South- 2/20/13

Wednesday Scores

College of Charleston (S) 67
Western Carolina (N) 65

The Citadel (S) 80
Appalachian State (N) 77

at North
North- 12
South- 10

at South
North- 13
South- 11

North- 25
South- 21


The North has clinched the battle, but the South's surprising Wednesday results have made this interesting. The Citadel's win really was a shocker. The South's recent surge in getting back into the race has to make you wonder if the South can win a couple of games (outside of Davidson and College of Charleston) in the SoCon Tournament.

Daily Dribbles- 2/20/13

--Ryley Beaumont of Elon won SoCon Player of the Week, averaging 20.5 points and eleven rebounds per game last week. Jake Cohen of Davidson may have deserved it, with his 38 points against College of Charleston. But it's hard to argue with Beaumont. He had an excellent week.

--Chattanooga's Jim Reynolds will be broadcasting his 1000th game on Thursday when the Mocs host UNCG. Wow. That's a long time to broadcast games. He has been at Chattanooga for 33 years. He's the voice I grew up with. He's the voice I still listen to. I normally keep these blurbs from being pro-Chattanooga, but I want to express my thanks to JR. Thanks for the memories!

--I asked a few questions to the SoCon league office about the tiebreakers, and here was the response I received: "It would go to the highest winning percentage amongst the pool."

--Here's the link to the updated tiebreaker rules, updated today on the SoCon website:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Daily Dribbles- 2/19/13

--Check out the story on the fourth bye race in the SoCon. Still a very interesting race as we head into the final two weeks.

--Tom Tankelwicz of Western Carolina and Chris Czerapowicz of Davidson are united in my mind...probably because their name ends in "wicz." Both are excellent three point shooters. Purple & Gold has some stats on Tankelwicz.

--Huge game on Wednesday between Western Carolina and College of Charleston. The Catamounts need the win for bye purposes. College of Charleston doesn't really need it, although the more they win, the more likely they are to get the third bye. The Cougars almost have it locked up as it is, but this game does matter to the Cougars. The game matters to the Catamounts for their confidence heading into the SoCon Tournament too.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Battle for the Fourth Bye: Two Weeks Left

So now things start to really get interesting. There are four teams within two games of the fourth bye spot with three or four SoCon games to play. Davidson has clinched the division. Elon can clinch the North on Thursday. College of Charleston is up three games on the team in the fifth spot, so the Cougars have all but put away a bye as well.

With three teams within one half game, and a fourth team sitting two games back, the fourth bye race is heating up. Let's look at the remaining SoCon schedule for all four of the teams- all the way until the end.

Feb 21 Elon
Feb 23 UNCG
Feb 28 at Appalachian State
Mar 2 at Western Carolina

Western Carolina
Feb 20 College of Charleston
Feb 28 Chattanooga
Mar 2 Samford

Appalachian State
Feb 20 The Citadel
Feb 28 Samford
Mar 2 Chattanooga

Feb 21 UNCG
Feb 23 Elon
Feb 28 at Western Carolina
Mar 2 at Appalachian State

So who has the schedule that puts them in the best situation? Samford and Chattanooga have identical schedules, but the Mocs really need help. They need Samford to lose two of their remaining four games, while the Mocs would have to win all four games. So advantage to Samford there in that schedule. Western Carolina and Appalachian State both have only home games remaining, and have two common opponents (Samford and Chattanooga). Western Carolina has to play College of Charleston, while Appalachian State has to play The Citadel. Edge: Appalachian State. Ranking the teams based on remaining schedule:

1) Appalachian State
2) Western Carolina
3) Samford
4) Chattanooga


Basically, if the Mocs win out and Western Carolina and Appalachian State both beat Samford and win out other than that, the teams would finish in a four way tie. The Mocs would be 5-1 against the three teams. Without knowing the updated tiebreaker procedures (I have an e-mail into the conference about it), I am assuming that would be the tiebreaker. This is probably the way that gives the Mocs the best chance at the bye with the least amount of help from the outside.

Samford will have to win both home games against Elon and UNCG, while going on the road and beating Western Carolina on the road. If they do that, then the worst they could do is tie Appalachian State, and (unless the tiebreaking procedure has changed) they would own the tiebreaker by virtue of Samford's win over College of Charleston.

Western Carolina's best chance to win out. Win out, and they would own the tiebreaker over Appalachian State (by virtue of their win over College of Charleston). That's the Catamounts best chance to get the division.

Appalachian State only has to win out and Western Carolina just needs to lose once. With the Catamounts playing three solid teams, this is a distinct possibility.

Basically, I think the favorite is probably Appalachian State. However, the Mountaineers have been the most inconsistent team in the SoCon this year, I think. Samford is my next choice.

Still, it is anyone's race. This should be very interesting. Very exciting race.