Sunday, December 15, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Seven

Each week, bloggers and fans from around the SoCon gather their knowledge together to come up with some of the best coverage of the SoCon available.


Western Carolina at Cleveland State

Wofford at VCU
Elon at Georgetown

Charleston Southern at Western Carolina
Brevard College at The Citadel
Kennesaw State at Georgia Southern
Appalachian State at Presbyterian
James Madison at UNCG
Chattanooga at UAB

Central Pennsylvania College at Elon

Georgia Southern at Georgia State
Liberty at Furman
Samford at Jacksonville

Western Carolina at Georgia
UNCG at Wake Forest
Milligan at Appalachian State
Wofford at Winthrop
Davidson at North Carolina
The Citadel at Nebraska

Elon at Florida Atlantic


1)      Davidson 95 (6)
2)      Elon 93 (3)
3)      Western Carolina 82
4)      Georgia Southern 62
5)      Wofford 57
6)      UNCG 54
7)      Samford 46
8)      Chattanooga 42
9)      Appalachian State 25
10)  Furman 24
11)  The Citadel 14


Z Mason, Chattanooga- 5 votes

Others receiving votes: Sebastian Koch, Elon (2 votes), Martynas Bareika, Chattanooga (1 vote), Abstaining due to conference lack of performance (1 vote)


Western Carolina at Georgia- 4 votes

Others receiving votes: Davidson at North Carolina (2 votes), James Madison at UNCG (1 vote), Appalachian State at Presbyterian (1 vote), Elon at Georgetown (1 vote)


Sum up your team.

Georgia Southern- GSU is just solidifying what we learned early on at this point, which is that the lack of size is a huge problem. The Eagles top 4 scorers are all guards and the number 5 scorer is playing the forward position despite only being 6'4. Things won't get any better as the talest player on the roster, Kam Dunnican, at 6'8 left the team last week. On the flip side though GSU has the conference's top 2 scorers in Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey. Part of that is obviously out of necessity but part of that is also because they are both very good scorers. The best news for the Eagles is that 6'4 junior Angel Matias had a career high 22 points last game out and posted his 4th straight game of 9+ rebounds. If he can start being a threat on the offensive end then teams can't concentrate on Hewitt and Bussey as much. We've also learned that this team needs a healthy Brian Holmes. Not only is Holmes a good player that makes the team better, but this team isn't very deep so without Holmes in the lineup the other guards are asked to play a lot of minutes. At this point I definitely expect GSU to exceed preseason expectations, but I don't think we have quite enough in the tank to win a conference championship. However if Hewitt, Bussey, Holmes, and Curtis Diamond get hot in Asheville and Matias and freshman Kyle Doyle continue to improve things could get interesting in March.

Samford- When I wrote that Samford was young and there might be growing pains, I didn't fully appreciate what the word "pain" meant. Now I know. I can feel it and it hurts like hell. Watching Samford thus far as been painful--like a root canal. There has been one bright spot--a surprising blow out of APSU. All the other D1 games have been blowouts--Samford getting blown out and not looking good during the process. Aside from poor defense, chaotic offense that at times resembles a YMCA pickup team, poor free throw shooting, abysmal three point shooting, silly turnovers and leaderless effort, we look to be poised to make a run in the SoCon. The saddest part is that Samford hasn't even been competitive in most of these D1 games. Perhaps sadder is that the non-D1 games have been very competitive. Speaking of the SoCon schedule, that is the only thing that can salvage this season. There are glimmers of hope here and there and if all this frustration we have "witnessed" in the non-conference schedule is a lesson in what not to do, perhaps this team can be one of the better teams in what has thus far been an abysmal SoCon non-conference performance. I guess what I'm saying is maybe the SoCon is so down this year that Samford can be better than some of the worst basketball teams, collectively called the Southern Conference, in college basketball. Perhaps we will get tired of losing and the hope of having teams as bad as us to play that the Bulldogs will be motivated to win. At this point, the SoCon schedule is our only hope of turning an appalling season around. The SoCon schedule can't get here soon enough. Hope springs eternal and the season begins anew in 2014.

The Citadel- The Citadel has been disappointing so far, not an easy thing to do given the expectations. Having said that, the Bulldogs have probably not been as bad as a couple of other SoCon teams (which says more about the league than just about anything). The team cannot escape the turnover bug, and recently has also fallen into the habit of falling way behind in every game and spending the rest of the contest trying to catch up. That can be attributed to a collective shooting slump. I think the Bulldogs will eventually start shooting well again, but it's hard to be confident about turnover prevention, given the last three seasons.

Western Carolina- The Cats are 5-6 this season and have not played since a 68-76 setback to Coastal Carolina on December 4th, taking last week off for final exams. As I said last week, the lack of offensive consistency from last season's scoring leaders has resulted in many games that could have or should have been wins for the Catamounts.

Who is the SoCon’s best pure shooter?

Georgia Southern- Without seeing the newcomers to the SoCon yet, I will default back to the player who I think is the best returning pure shooter in the conference and that's Elon's Jack Isenbarger. I know he hasn't shot the ball as well this year, but as he works himself back into shape I'd expect him to return to form for conference play.

The Citadel- Tanner Samson (I guess).

Western Carolina-Trey Sumler

What college basketball rules would you like to see changed?

Georgia Southern- The top rule I would like to see changed is the new hand checking rules. Some of the games early on while officials were putting a strong emphasis on it were almost unbearable. Like with the new football rules, I don't want to see college basketball turn into a game where it's tough to play defense. Last year my least favorite rule was the elbow rule so I'm glad that they went back and atleast put that under replay.

Samford- Allowing D1 teams to schedule non-D1 teams. At the very least, limit D1 schools to one non-D1 game a year. There are enough D1 teams that D1 teams should only play D1 teams.

The Citadel- I would like to see offensive goaltending (mostly) legalized, and for the possession arrow to be eliminated. Go back to jump balls.

Western Carolina- Eliminate rule 10, article 4 that took effect this season, it's resulting in excessive fouling and slows down the game. It has not improved scoring as hoped. I'd also like to see the 35 second clock reduced to 30 seconds. I think this would not only speed up the game, but could result in higher scoring games that was projected with the implementation of rule 10.

What are some things you’d like to see the commissioner do to promote the SoCon?

Georgia Southern- This is something that's going to be an all around challenge for the SoCon as a conference in whole and not just basketball. In the past my answer would have been to ride the recognition of your most known schools. Such as App St's national success in football and Davidson's basketball success. The problem with this is that the most recognizable SoCon teams in each sport are leaving the conference. So the SoCon is going to have to decide what they want their image to be and then promote that image. What that is at this time I'm not really 100% sure of though, but it's definitely going to be a challenge for the SoCon moving forward.

Samford- See my answer to the previous question. The SoCon has to up the schedule. At a minimum, it would cut down on the number of non-D1 losses the SoCon suffers. In conjunction with that, I'd like to see tie-ins with other conferences like the A-Sun, Big South and OVC that give SoCon fans a chance to see their teams play somewhat quality opponents. Samford's home out of conference schedule was more than a disappointment to its fans (those that are left), it was a travesty.

The Citadel- The league's TV deal MUST improve by about 1000%. The league MUST develop a streaming service similar to what the Patriot League has, and like the Patriot League it needs to be free of charge. For basketball, the SoCon needs to ensure more of its teams are in exempt tourneys that are televised (or at least on, and the non-conference schedule in general must be strengthened. I have no idea at this point what Dave Odom is doing, if anything.  Finally, the league must make a conscious effort to have quality officials working conference games (all sports).

Western Carolina- I don't know what the commissioner can do at this point to promote SoCon basketball. The individual institutions must make a commitment to upgrade their programs, then follow through with the resources to accomplish any upgrades in the basketball product, which many of the institutions seem reluctant to do. I would like to see the conference utilize some of their funds to upgrade the streaming video in the individual member schools, something on the line of what the Big South has accomplished.

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