Friday, October 25, 2013

Wofford Preview: Getting Back to Winning

By JohnMoc1

After putting together one of the most impressive runs in the SoCon in recent years, Wofford came back to earth a bit last year. A 13-19 record (7-11 in the SoCon) and a first round exit from the SoCon Tournament (early on the first day, which makes it even worse somehow) left Terrier fans wanting more.

The key for the Terriers will be finding more offensive production. A year ago Karl Cochran took about 40% of the teams shots, and was not a particularly great shooter. They need to find a way to create more open looks for Cochran so that his shooting percentage can go up. Lee Skinner and Aerris Smith may be the two most important players for that. Skinner plays aggressively down in the paint. He will need to be a big time scorer. He is only 6-6, but small big guys have been important to the Terriers in the past.

Smith is a senior and a pretty wide body. But he did not score much last year. Will his offensive game have developed enough to help take some pressure off other players? Tim Johnson (who Terrier fans remember fondly from a couple of years ago) has returned to the coaching staff, and has been working with Smith quite a bit. He should be able to improve his offensive game.

Indiana Faithfull did a good job at point guard. In terms of pure point guard (not scorer), Faithfull was very effective distributing the ball. He also has one of the best names in all of college basketball. John Swinton may contend for the starting point guard spot this year over Indiana Faithfull.

Spencer Collins shot about the same percentage from the floor at Cochran, and took 30% of the team's shots. That means that Collins and Cochran have taken about 70% of Terrier shots a year ago. Collins was a freshman last year and should be a year more experienced this year. There is often a jump from freshman year to sophmore year. If his shot develops this year, he could truly be a special player.

The Terriers have two young freshman guards. Jaylen Allen should be able to come in and provide depth immediately for Cochran. The other freshman is Eric Garcia and he should be able to challenge to some degree or another for the starting spot at point guard. He is 5-11 and 170 pounds, but he could instantly increase the offensive ability at the point guard spot. Faithfull may be better at distributing the ball, but Garcia is a more pure shooter.

Wofford plays three non-D1 teams this year. Emory & Henry, Johnson & Wales, and Hiwassee are all on the schedule. There are also trips to Georgia, Minnesota, Saint Louis, and VCU. The out of conference games that are not against non-D1s or against bigger school, are at Iona, at High Point, at Gardner-Webb, at Winthrop, and at home against High Point and William & Mary. That's not an absurdly difficult schedule, but it's not easy.

Western Carolina, Appalachian State, UNCG, and Elon are the teams in the SoCon that Wofford plays once. That means that two of the preseason top three teams the Terriers only play once. That should help them some. There is the very odd back-to-back games against Chattanooga for Wofford. They play in Chattanooga on January 11 and in Spartanburg on January 18 with no game in-between. That is odd.

Best case scenario for a team returning all five starters is of course big. If they figure out how to feed the post better, if Collins starts shooting the ball better and if Smith develops into an offensive threat, this team could be very good. They could win the whole SoCon. In a worst case scenario, the offense doesn't develop, and the Terriers wind up about like they did last year, when they finished 8th in the SoCon.

I'm not completely convinced that the offense will developed, but Mike Young is a very good coach and he will coax a few more wins out of this team. They will be good, but they will not be able to move up quite to a bye spot in the SoCon. Expect them to really be a solid contender in the SoCon in 2014-15.

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