Tuesday, November 5, 2013

VMI Preview: Keydets Try To Make Splash in Big South Year Before SoCon Re-Entry

The Keydets enter their final season in the Big South Conference coming off a semi-final loss in the BS Tournament to regular season champion Charleston Southern. It was the fifth time in the last seven years that VMI has won at least one BS Tournament game, while having reached the Championship game three times. After receiving another contract extension following last year, Coach Duggar Baucom will try to have similar success before re-joining the Southern Conference next year.

VMI finished last year 14-17 overall and 8-8 in conference play. They finished second in the BS North Division before beating Longwood in their opener in the BS tourney. It is expected that VMI will return with the fast-paced high octane offense that Duggar Baucom installed seven years ago. VMI returns two Seniors who have considerable experience. DJ Covington (6’9”, C, Virginia Beach, VA) returns for his final year as a pre-season Big South Conference First Team selection. Last year, Covington averaged 15.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and led the Big South with 93 blocks, while winning the Conference Defensive Player of the Year award. Covington is a big man who has been able to be effective despite the fast paced and guard oriented system run at VMI. He figures to be the key contributor this year. Coach Baucom’s plan is to get the ball to Covington on every possession and run the offense through the big man. This will be interesting to watch because VMI has not had a post player capable of being the feature in the current offensive system. The man responsible for leading that system is Senior guard Rodney Glasgow (5’10”, PG, Brooklyn, NY). Glasgow returns for his final year having started throughout all four years at the Institute. A quick lefty guard who can get into the lane, Glasgow averaged 11.7 ppg, 4.75 apg, and shot 38% 3pfg. Glasgow led the conference in assist to turnover ratio.

While VMI will see six new Freshman join the program, the biggest addition will be the return of R-So forward Jordan Weethee (6’6”, F, Greensboro, NC). Weethee missed all last year after tearing his ACL in the off-season. Weethee played in 33 games as a freshman and averaged nearly 7.0 ppg. However, it was his performance during the Big South Conference tournament two years ago that made his absence more unsettling last year. During the run to the Championship game in 2012, Weethee shot 9-13 from behind the arc, including five makes in the quarterfinal win over Coastal Carolina. Weethee will likely be the main threat from behind the arc. Weethee should provide Convington more space in the lane if he can continue to shoot the ball as he did as a Freshman. Brian Brown (5’11”, SG, Kings Mountain, NC) and Phillip Anglade (6’5”, F, Long Island NY) are likely to fill out the starting lineup. However, Coach Baucom has been known to shuffle the starting lineup.

The Keydets will again rely heavily on the 3-point shot. Tim Marshall (6’3”, SG, Virginia Beach, VA) and Brian Brown provide two more threats from behind the arc. The Keydets welcome six new Freshman. Baucom has been a very solid recruiter given the different type of student experience that VMI offers. Baucom has not hesitated to use Freshman and most will likely see significant minutes as they rotate through the high paced offense.

VMI has one of the tougher non-conference schedules in recent memory. They will host the All-Military Classic (Army v. Air Force, Citadel at VMI; winners play) on November 8-9 at Cameron Hall. VMI will travel to play three ACC teams (Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Clemson) as well as East Carolina. Wright State will play at VMI this year after hosting VMI last year. The tough schedule should prepare VMI for the conference slate. Duggar Baucom has always had his team playing its best basketball late in the conference schedule and during the conference tournament. VMI will try to win the BS in its final year to earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 1977.

I predict that VMI’s performance and record will mirror the previous years’ outcomes. The Keydets usually start off slow, pick up speed during the middle of conference play, and are a team many do not want to play come tournament time. My prediction is that VMI will finish 16-13 overall and 9-7 in the conference. Covington and Glasgow will challenge for first team all-conference honors. The Keydets have to figure out how to run their offense through the post and improve their defense against quick guards, who last year got into the lane too easily. They will continue to score points in bunches, but will have to improve their defense to compete for a post-season bid.
Rah Virginia Mil!

No comments:

Post a Comment