Sunday, February 17, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Sixteen

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



Appalachian State at UNCG


Furman at Davidson
College of Charleston at Western Carolina
The Citadel at Appalachian State


UNCG at Chattanooga
Wofford at Georgia Southern
Elon at Samford


Coastal Carolina at Western Carolina (Bracketbusters)
Montana at Davidson (Bracketbusters) (ESPNU)
Gardner-Webb at College of Charleston (Bracketbusters)
Furman at Georgia Southern
The Citadel at Presbyterian (Bracketbusters)
Elon at Chattanooga (ESPN3)
UNCG at Samford


1) Davidson 132 (11)
2) College of Charleston 117
3) Elon 114
4) Samford 94
5) Western Carolina 89
6) Appalachian State 75
7) UNCG 53

8) Georgia Southern 52
9) Chattanooga 51
10) Wofford 48
11) The Citadel 19
12) Furman 14


Elon at Samford (5 votes)  

Others Receiving Votes: College of Charleston at Western Carolina (3 votes), Elon at Chattanooga (2), Montana at Davidson (1)


Sum up your team.

Davidson- When I last wrote about Davidson, the Wildcats were 8-1 in the Southern. They've reeled off 6 straight wins (Samford, at Wofford, WCU, ASU, at CofC, at Citadel), and are now 14-1. Those six wins have been by an average margin of 18.5 points. The Wildcats are playing their best basketball of the season, have locked up the Southern Division, and are getting contributions from a variety of players. Furman comes to Davidson on Wednesday. Then Montana for a BrackeBuster game. In the final week of the season, the Wildcats visit Elon and host GSU. A #1 seed looks likely. Wildcat fans are still hoping for the return of Clint Mann. In his post-game comments after the win at The Citadel, Coach McKillop talked about wanting to get more minutes for Ali Mackay, Jordan Barham, and Jake Belford. He said that he expected each of those players to be needed down the stretch. Getting more production from those three guys would soften the blow of losing Clint and give us options if the other forwards get in foul trouble.

Elon- The Phoenix has won five of six contests since I last wrote, with the lone loss coming at Wofford. Elon had an impressive week at home at Alumni Gym, beating Appalachian State without the services of star junior forward Lucas Troutman and sharp shooting freshman Tanner Samson on Thursday night. Both players returned for Saturday’s overtime win against Western Carolina, with Sampson hitting a critical three pointer in the extra session. If Elon beats Samford on the road on Thursday, then it will clinch the North Division title and earn a first round bye in the Southern Conference tournament for the second straight year.

Samford- Samford hit a slide starting Jan. 24 at Greensboro, when it lost a very winnable game. The Bulldogs continued by dropping sound losses at Davidson (by 20), at Elon (by 11), and at home against Charleston (the 4-point final margin was deceptive). They bounced back with a 12-point home win against The Citadel, which wasn’t as close as the final score indicates, before dropping an overtime game at Chattanooga. They followed that with a Valentine’s Day massacre against Wofford—the victim of the massacre was beautiful offensive basketball. Samford then went to Greenville where they beat Furman by 11 on a snowy Saturday afternoon. The Bulldog starters have logged a lot of minutes since Jan. 31; only eight Samford players have contributed meaningful minutes during February. I hope their legs hold up over the last two weeks of the season, when they play Elon, Greensboro, WCU, and App State to determine the fourth first-round bye in the SoCon Tournament. If Samford can get the final bye, the Bulldogs have an opportunity to advance—maybe not to Monday night, but at least into the weekend.

The Citadel- The Citadel has won two more SoCon games in the past three weeks, beating Wofford at home and Furman on the road. The victory over the Paladins was notable in that the Bulldogs came back from an 18-point second-half deficit to win. The Citadel scored a almost unbelievable 60 points in the second half. However, the Bulldogs have not won since, and have played very poorly at times (particularly in a home loss to Georgia Southern). Defense has been a major problem all season, as has turnovers. Mike Groselle continues to play well, and P.J. Horgan has been solid. Matt Van Scyoc has had his moments and is going to be a fine player in the league, but those three need more help. The perimeter play has not been nearly consistent enough, either offensively or defensively.

Which coach is on the hottest seat?

Davidson- It has to be Jeff Jackson. Furman fans are tracking how many games below .500 he is for his career, the team has been seriously hobbled by injury, and the Paladins are on a 6 game losing streak. At 6-19 overall with just 4 D1 wins, Furman's coaching staff has to be very nervous.

Elon-  Jeff Jackson, the head coach at Furman, appears to be the coach on the hot seat. Furman has arguably been the worst team in the conference this season as it appears doomed for a first round exit in the Southern Conference tournament. Since taking over in the 2006-2007 season, Jackson has guided Furman to just one season with a winning record in Southern Conference play. After a second straight disappointing season, it may time for Furman to look at another direction for its coaching position.

Georgia Southern- I think there are three coaches who have to feel their seat is pretty warm right now. John Shulman at UTC, Charlton Young at GSU, and Jeff Jackson at Furman. Coach Shulman and Jackson have experienced some success at their respective schools, but have had a rough past few years. Meanwhile Coach Young has stumbled to a 40-81 record in his 4 seasons at GSU. Barring a deep run in the SoCon tournament by any of these schools I think all 3 could be looking for a new head coach in March.

Samford- From the outside looking in, it should be Jeff Jackson. He’s been at Furman for almost seven full seasons and has won only 38% of his SoCon games. He has only been above .500 in conference play once, though he was within one game of .500 in both 2007 and 2012. That is worse than Furman’s recent history—the Paladins were above .500 in the SoCon a dozen times between 1994 and Jackson’s first season. He was nearly 40 games under .500 as a head coach at New Hampshire, so his history as a head coach really works against him. He has made neither the NCAA nor the NIT in a decade as a head coach (barring a great four-day run in Asheville by the Paladins). I don’t know what his contract situation is, but Furman already has lost 14 SoCon games by double figures in the last three seasons alone—two of which were among Jackson’s best. Jackson probably should be fired after the end of the season. John Shulman doesn’t have an athletic director and he does have post-season trips on his resume, so he’s probably in less trouble than Jackson. And, if Georgia Southern gets an invite to the Sun Belt, I anticipate Charlton Young is going to be the first person fired in their athletic department.

The Citadel- Jeff Jackson at Furman is 6-19 this season in his seventh year in Greenville. He has only had one winning season with the Paladins.

Western Carolina- Furman’s Jeff Jackson.  While Furman doesn’t routinely fire coaches, I think that the administration will finally see that the seven years they’ve given Jackson, were more than ample time to win at Furman.  I don’t know if he as a year or two left on his contract, but I’m sure one of the big pocket supports of FU will step forward and buy it out.  I think Jackson’s current record of 6-19 overall and just 3-11 in the SoCon is more than ample reason to make this move.

What are your predictions for the Bracketbuster games this weekend?

Davidson- 4-0. I really like Davidson over Montana and CofC over Gardner-Webb. WCU has the personnel to get it done at home over Coastal. The Citadel is playing much better ball lately. They can get the road win at Presby to secure the season series against the Big South.

Elon-  I am very optimistic about all four Southern Conference teams chances that are playing this weekend in BracketBusters. I believe Citadel will go on the road and beat Presbyterian. Presbyterian has just four wins against Division I opponents (three of their seven wins came against non-division I opponents) and therefore Citadel is more than capable of getting the road win, even if they are having a rough season of their own. College of Charleston should be able to handle Gardner Webb as Charleston is very tough to beat at home. Western Carolina should have their hands full with Coastal Carolina but I think the home-court advantage should give the edge to Western Carolina. The best BracketBuster game of the weekend has to be Montana at Davidson. Each team has lost just one conference game all season, dominating their respective conferences. I will take my chance with Davidson, who is currently riding a ten game  winning streak, as I envision the Southern Conference teams to go 4-0 this weekend in non-conference games.

Samford- I think the SoCon could win three of the four. Davidson gets Montana at home after a long trip, but Montana gets a week of rest and prep before that game. WCU is pretty good in Cullowhee—just ask Mike Young—so I’ll take them over a middling Coastal Carolina team. Gardner-Webb has been up and down this year, but more down than up. I think Charleston is pulling itself together at the right time and they’re more talented than G-W. Citadel is not a safe bet, but Presbyterian is pretty bad. Fortunately, the Blue Hose knew that this season was predestined to happen, so they’re likely less disappointed with their poor record. SoCon 3, Big South 1, Big Sky 0.

The Citadel- 4-0. Three home games, and I think The Citadel will beat Presbyterian in Clinton.

Western Carolina- I see no reason why the SoCon can’t go 4-0, but I’ll hedge my bet and predict 3-1.  I’m kind of iffy on the WCU vs. CCU game (as Western has played much better on the road than at home this season).

Which player would cause a team to struggle the most if he was injured?

Davidson- Andrew Lawrence. CofC is very good with Lawrence. Earlier in the season, they were terrible without him. There are other players (Groselle, Simpson, Sumler, Healy, etc) who are vital to their teams' success, but I don't think that any of them make as big a difference as Lawrence to the team's overall record.

Elon- An injury to Lucas Troutman would be more damaging to the success of a team than any other player in the Southern Conference. Troutman, who just scored his 1,000 point as a member of the Elon Phoenix this past week, is a dominant force in the post. Defenders have struggled to guard the 6-10 junior, who is fourth in the conference in scoring. Troutman is second in the league in field goal percentage, shooting a remarkable 54.6 percent from the field.  Troutman also has an immense impact on defense, leading the Southern Conference in blocked shots.  He also is in the top 15 in rebounding, making one of the most valuable players in the Southern Conference.

Georgia Southern- The answer to this question should be Eric Ferguson at Georgia Southern, but it's not. Davidson wouldn't be the same without Cohen or Brooks. UNCG wouldn't be the same without Simpson. App wouldn't be the same without Healy. Elon wouldn't be the same without Isenbarger or Troutman. Samford wouldn't be the same without Tim Williams. But I think Trey Sumler at WCU is the one player that makes the biggest difference at his school. He leads them in scoring by a wide margin and also leads WCU in assists and the conference in steals.

Samford- I think the single most critical player to his team at this point is Tim Williams (Fr., Samford). Tim is the only player on the roster who is taller than 6-5, the only post threat, and is an absolutely essential cog in the pick-and-roll game that SU plays when the shot clock runs down. With Williams, Samford is contending for a bye; without him, they’re Furman. Tough spot for a freshman, but it’s true. Runner-up is Trey Sumler, who is the only WCU player that can get his own shot and he gets a lot of offense for the rest of that roster.

The Citadel- I think it's either Mike Groselle or Trey Sumler.

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