Sunday, November 24, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Four

Welcome to Scanning the SoCon. Each week. We've scoured the internet hunting down fans from around the SoCon. There are people from school newspapers, message boards and bloggers. We've come together once again to try to provide a weekly comprehensive look around the SoCon. This is our third year of Scanning the SoCon. Hopefully, it will be the best year yet. If you have any suggestions, feel free to e-mail me or comment.



Louisiana Tech vs. UNCG in Estero, FL (Gulf Coast Showcase)
Montreat at The Citadel
Metro State at Elon (NIT Season Tip Off)


TBA vs. UNCG in Estero, FL (Gulf Coast Showcase)
Oral Roberts vs. Georgia Southern in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Cancun Challenge)
Limestone at Western Carolina
Furman at Virginia Tech
Georgia State at Elon (NIT Season Tip Off)
Samford at Stephen F. Austin (Roundball Classic)


TBA vs. Georgia Southern in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Cancun Challenge)
TBA vs. UNCG in Estero, FL (Gulf Coast Showdown)


Morehead State vs. Chattanooga in Las Vegas, NV (Las Vegas Invitational)


TBA vs. The Citadel in Towson, MD (Battle 4 Atlantis)
Appalachian State at Georgia
Campbellsville at Samford
TBA vs. Chattanooga in Las Vegas, NV (Las Vegas Invitational)


TBA vs. The Citadel in Towson, MD (Battle 4 Atlantis)
Johnson & Wales at Wofford
Brevard at Furman
Davidson at Stetson
Western Carolina at Wright State
Campbell at Georgia Southern


Columbia at Elon
Kentucky State at Samford


1)      Davidson 92 (4)
2)      Elon 87 (3)
3)      Western Carolina 84 (2)
4)      UNCG 56
5)      Chattanooga 52
6)      Georgia Southern 48
7)      Samford 39
8)      Furman 38
9)      Wofford 37
10)  Appalachian State 34
11)  The Citadel 27


Louisiana Tech vs. UNCG- 2 votes
Appalachian State at Georgia- 2 votes

Others: Davidson at Stetson (1 vote), Morehead State vs. Chattanooga (1 vote), Georgia State at Elon (1 vote), Furman at Virginia Tech (1 vote), Samford at Stephen F. Austin (1 vote)


Trey Sumler, Western Carolina- 6 votes

Others Receiving Votes: Tre Bussey, Georgia Southern (3 votes)


Sum up your team.

Georgia Southern- The up tempo style of Mark Byington has been refreshing in Statesboro after 4 years of Charlton Young's low scoring offenses. Byington allows his guards to play in space and shoot the ball which has led to some big numbers for Trey Bussey and Jelani Hewitt who are 1-2 in the SoCon in scoring. As expected though there is little to no scoring presence by the post players. Most of the scoring done by the Eagles in the paint this year will be by the guards penetrating. Defensively there is still a lot of work to be done, which was to be expected, and the lack of size hurts on the boards. But if this team keeps improving they will give some SoCon teams fits. There are very few, if any, teams in the SoCon who have 2 guards that can defend both Bussey and Hewitt.

Samford- Growing pains, growing pains, growing pains. Samford has struggled with just being competitive and it can't all be blamed on youth. The team is struggling for an identity, leadership and competitiveness. There was a glimmer of progress in a close loss to Western Kentucky, but when you look to a close loss for progress, it can't be good. Saying that the non-conference schedule will be a time for the team to gel and the young players to grow up is one thing and patiently watching some poor outings is another. It will drive a Southern Baptist to drink.

The Citadel- The Citadel is a fairly predictable 2-4. Its only D-1 victory came against Presbyterian. The same things that have plagued the program for the past few seasons (turnovers, porous D) have still been present, though in the last few games there has at least been a hint of improved ball security. It does appear this year's edition of the Bulldogs can shoot, though. The 3-point and free throw marksmanship has been quite good. It's possible the Bulldogs may be a little better than expected, but it will be hard to get a sense of that until The Citadel has played its next three D-1 opponents (at Towson, at Navy, Gardner-Webb).

So far, Matt Van Scyoc has played well, which is not a surprise. What has been a surprise, though, is the emergence of freshman forward Brian White. He has been decent-to-excellent in every game, and has been particularly good on the road. White is currently averaging 14.3 ppg (55% FG) and 6.8 rebounds per game, and has 8 of the team's 16 blocked shots. If he keeps up that pace, White will be a strong candidate for SoCon Freshman of the Year. It's very, very, very early, though. C.J. Bray and Warren Sledge (a freshman guard) are both expected to return from injury this week, which should give the Bulldogs some badly needed depth.

Western Carolina- Starting out the season with 2 seniors suspended, looked to be a huge hardship for the Cats, but they beat both Wittenberg and UNCA on the strength of bench. Trey Sumler returned for the Oregon game, and put up 29 points in a losing effort to the Ducks. The Cats then traveled to Va Tech, where the Cats shot a dismal 32% from the floor, with Sumler scoring only 11 points. The Cats now own a 4-4 overall record, with wins over Wittenberg, UNCA, Liberty and Niagara. Loses to Va Tech, Kent State and USC Upstate are due to inconsistent scoring by the Cats, especially Sumler, Tankelwwicz, and King. This could be the turmoil caused by the suspension and then return of Sumler and Mendenhall, but I expected more consistant play from the seniors on the team, that hasn't yet materialized. Unless it does, the Cats will finish mid-pack going into the tournament.

The SoCon has not been good. The RPI currently ranks at #33. Why is the SoCon so bad?

Georgia Southern- I think it has to do with the schedule at this point. The wins have been against lower level teams and then some teams like Davidson have played tough OOC opponents so far which has led to few wins. I'm not too concerned about it because I think this is going to be an exciting SoCon season with UTC and GSU both looking like they can compete with anybody in the league under new coaching and I still think the top 4 teams in the league are going to be very good. Right now I think there are 7 teams who have a legit chance at winning the conference. And at the end of the day the SoCon is a 1 bid league so I'm not too worried about the RPI.

Samford- It has to start with the SoCon Commissioner and the presidents. If basketball isn't a priority, then basketball won't be a priority and anything not a priority isn't going to be good. Plus, four teams leaving and the conference in transition, the conference is searching for an identity. With the addition of Mercer, VMI, and ETSU, I hope that the conference gets some consistency and that consistency, coupled with an emphasis on the sport will raise competitiveness of the league from top to bottom. The SoCon has to do more to hold its members accountable for their schedules. Limestone? Campbellsville? Brevard? Johnson and Wales? Seriously? Why not work deals with the Big South, Atlantic Sun, OVC to make sure that teams and fans see quality opponents in the non-conference schedule? There are too many non-D1s on SoCon schedules. When you associate with less than D1, you are identified with less than D1.

The Citadel- I don't think the SoCon is very good this year, but I'm not taking the RPI seriously in November. The conference is undergoing a major transition, with four schools leaving after this season and three new coaches on the scene. It's not surprising that the early part of the season has been sketchy.

UNCG- I honestly think the SoCon has been better than it appears. RPI and conference rankings are always a little bit screwy this early in the season. Use Davidson as an example ... lists their loss to Virginia as a "bad loss". Their win against Georgia (currently a 300+ team) is not a good one. By the end of the season, Virginia will be at least a top 40 team and Georgia will be in the top 150. I think when we look again later in the season, the numbers will be quite different. However, this league is going to have to win games against D1 competition. That's not happened frequently so far this season.

Western Carolina- Bad teams equal a bad conference. A traditionally weak basketball conference, the SoCon has slipped even lower. No SoCon team has a winning record against Div I teams, only one team is at .500 and 9 have losing records, while 5 teams have won no games against Div I opponents. The best performer at this point. Western Carolina has 3 Div. I wins, but 4 Div. I losses, while 5 teams have only 1 Div. I win. Of the three teams that are departing at the end of the season, App State is 0-4, GSU is 0-3, and Davidson is 1-4. I think the conference's emphasis on FCS football is to blame, as each school devotes a lion's share of the resources to football (except Davidson & UNCG).

Which new head coach is doing the best job?

Georgia Southern- At this point I'm going to give the nod to Mark Byington at GSU. What he has been able to do so far without having any kind of post game has been impressive. But I don't think there is a wrong answer to this question because all 3 have done a good job so far and all 3 look to be upgrades over the previous staff, but it's obviously still very early.

Samford- Georgia Southern.

The Citadel- Uh, I'll go with Niko Medved doing the best job so far, since he's the only one of the three to win a game against a D-1 opponent.

Western Carolina- If you base it on Div. 1 game only records, it's Furman at 1-2. GSU is 0-3 and Chattanooga comes in at 0-3. Just three weeks into the season, I think that is about all that can be concluded from so few games played.

What are your thoughts on the exempt tournaments?

Georgia Southern- I'm in favor of these exempt tournaments because it's a good way to both get some nice matchups and for the kids to get to visit places like Las Vegas, Cancun, ect. I do like the true tournaments though where the winners advance and not the predetermined "better vs better and worse vs worse" matchups.

Samford- I really hate to say this, but I don’t give these tournaments a second thought.

The Citadel- First, I hate the tournaments that have pre-determined "winners" advancing. That's a crock. That's a little different setup from tournaments like the Battle 4 Atlantis, which is really an eight-team tournament with four other teams mixed in so everyone gets 4 games as part of the exemption. That's not such a bad thing, but the problem with the B4A is that it couldn't find four D-1 schools for its "mainland" tournament. That doesn't do Towson, The Citadel, or the schools stuck with playing a non-D1 (UTEP/Southern Cal) for their "extra" game any good.

UNCG- I wish that, like the MVC, the SoCon made every team in it's league participate in one of these per year. We all complain about the scheduling of our current teams. These exempt tournaments give our teams a chance to play multiple D1 teams. I know that sometimes these tournaments have predetermined brackets, and I think that's fine too. Those tournaments are trying to sell tickets and get their teams on TV. Selling match ups is what it's all about. As long as our teams get to play in winnable brackets of their own, it seems fine to me.

Western Carolina- I'm for any opportunities for teams to play additional games, in tournament settings. These exempt tournaments provide valuable experience for the teams playing in them in preparation for both the regular conference season and conference tournament play.

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