Friday, February 28, 2014

Appalachian State Preview: Zenior Night

Yep- you heard right. It's not Senior Night. It's Zenior Night.

Senior Z Mason has certainly earned a night being named after him. After all, he has been one of the best players to come through Chattanooga in recent years. He will probably be on the All SoCon First Team this year, might win Player of the Year and has ignited the turn around in Mocs basketball fortunes this year. There will be festivities surrounding the lone Mocs senior.

But there is important stuff to tend to on the court as well. The Mocs will be hosting Appalachian State in a game with significant tournament seeding implications for the Mocs. A win over the Mountaineers would lock up the two seed for the Mocs in the upcoming SoCon Tournament. A loss could knock them down to the fourth seed if Wofford beats UNCG and Elon beats Davidson. A loss and a win by just one of those two teams would put the Mocs in at the third seed. A loss by all three would also leave the Mocs in at the two seed.

In other words, this game matters to the Mocs a great deal. While winning a SoCon regular season championship was the ultimate goal, finishing second would be a tremendous step for a team with a new coaching staff, new style, new system and just one senior on the roster that finished in seventh last year in the SoCon.

So it begins for the Mocs as they strive to prove that they can win back-to-back games to close out the year and put together back-to-back solid performances. After a bumbling month of February, they get to start off March attempting to show exactly what they are made of.

Back in the first match-up between the two teams, the Mocs fell behind by double digits early in the game, only to roar out to an eleven point halftime lead and a ten point win to start SoCon play at 5-0. The Mocs were never seriously threatened in the second half. Martynas Bareika scored 16 points, Casey Jones had 14 points and eleven rebounds, and Z Mason contributed 22 and 12 to go along with six blocks. For the Mountaineers, Michael Obacha had one of his best offensive nights, scoring ten points. Jay Canty got 18 points. Tommy Spagnolo scored just five points and had seven rebounds.

Now, Canty is suspended for the second time this year. He was out for Thursday's game against Samford. Mike Neal was also suspended for that game. The school announced that both had violated team rules and would not be playing at Chattanooga either, but no timetable had been set for their return.

The bad news for the Mocs in terms of how the Mountaineers are playing is the rising up of Spagnolo. He has become a really good SoCon player since the last meeting, when he played just twenty minutes and did not start. He is now the Mountaineers best player with Canty out. Spagnolo is a 6-7 and will be tough for the Mocs to handle inside, especially with Obacha also in the middle.

How did Appalachian State beat Samford on Thursday without Neal and Canty, who combined for 34 points against the Mocs in their earlier meeting? Well, one thing they did was feed Spagnolo, who finished with 21 points. The other thing they did was play suffocating defense. Samford did not score for over seven minutes late in the game to turn a comfortable lead into a deficit. The Bulldogs committed 25 turnovers against the Mountaineers, the most by a SoCon team this year. They also got to the free throw line 33 times to the Bulldogs 12.

These are things that should trouble the Mocs. They are a team that goes to the free throw line a huge number of times to make up for lack of shooting ability from the floor. They are a team that has a tendency to commit turnovers in chunks. They could not slow down Samford's offense in two games against them.

There are things to be worried about here. The Mountaineers have seemed to play better without Canty in SoCon action, which seems unthinkable, given his talent level. When he was out with an injury, they won a few games. When he is suspended, they go and win at Samford. Maybe, for some strange reason, this team is better without Canty in the lineup.

The Mocs will likely need to win the rebounding battle and fight and scrap for everything. They are not good enough to just show up and win the basketball game. They are going to have to bring the energy to the game for the full forty minutes. After their performance against Georgia Southern the last time the Mocs played in McKenzie, my bet is that the Mocs decide to show up and bring their best effort. This is their last chance to impress the home crowd this year.


Think about it. Appalachian State scored 70 points against the Mocs the first time around, and 34 of them were scored by Canty and Neal who will not play in this one. That is a huge chunk to replace, even with Spagnolo playing at such a high level. They will try to do it mostly with defense, but the Mountaineers could not control the Mocs as they drove the ball to the basket the first time around. Gee McGhee should have a great game in this one. Z Mason will play an inspired performance in his final home game. Casey Jones and Rico White will also play big roles. Look for Lance Stokes to bring the energy to the game that is necessary to win. Finally, a guy that I don't always give a ton of credit to, Greg Pryor, will not turn the ball over a lot against the Mountaineers ball hawkers, and the Mocs will come up with a relatively easy win in front of the home crowd. Mocs 77, Mountaineers 64.

Daily Dribbles- 2/28/14

--Thursday recap here.

--Saturday preview here.

--Davidson has locked up the one seed. The Citadel is the eleven seed. Furman is the ten seed. Western Carolina is the five seed. Those are all locked up. If Chattanooga wins, they clinch the two seed. If Georgia Southern beats The Citadel, they will clinch the six seed. Those are the most important seeds on the board.

--Elon hosts Davidson, and the game matters to the Phoenix after losing to Wofford. Are they good enough to beat Davidson? I'm not sure. Should be interesting.

Mocs 83, Catamounts 81

The Mocs won one of their biggest regular season games of the year in Cullowhee and did it in very dramatic fashion. Martynas Bareika drained three in the final ten seconds of regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime. Then, when down four with 35 seconds left in overtime, Rico White drained a three, the Mocs forced a jump ball and gained possession, and then Casey Jones made a shot to give the Mocs the lead.

It was an incredible performance. Thanks to Wofford's upset at Elon, the Mocs are now in a three way tie for second in the SoCon. They hold the tiebreaker over Elon (beat them once head-to-head) and Wofford (beat them twice head-to-head). That means that if the Mocs beat Appalachian State, they will finish second in the SoCon. If Wofford (against UNCG) or Elon (against Davidson) lose on Saturday and the Mocs lose, then the Mocs would still clinch the three seed. If both Wofford and Elon win and the Mocs lose, then the Mocs will get the four seed. If all three lose, the Mocs will clinch the second seed. There is no way for Western Carolina to get anyting except for the five seed.

What is interesting as we look at the season as a whole is that the Mocs are now 5-1 against teams that will receive a bye in the SoCon Tournament. They are a mere 6-3 against teams not getting a bye, but the Mocs have beaten the best teams in the SoCon consistently. Davidson is just 4-1 at this point against teams receiving a bye. If they beat Elon, they will finish up 5-1, which would match the Mocs mark. They are the two best teams against teams that will receive a bye in the SoCon Tournament.

The Mocs brought the energy tonight. There was a play in the second half where Western Carolina was passing it ahead for a breakaway basket. It should have been an easy two. Bareika batted the ball away out of bounds. It is plays like that which make such a huge difference in games like this. Lance Stokes consistently made plays just like throughout the ball game. He tipped the ball out on numerous rebounds. With seven points and five assists, he did a lot of really important things. Gee McGhee with 15 points and six rebounds continued to show a recognition of his role on this team. Casey Jones had plays run for him tonight, and he came up huge with 19 points and seven rebounds. Z Mason fouled out of the game and had 16 points and six rebounds.

The Mocs also got to the free throw line 17 more times than the Catamounts and made fourteen more free throws. That was one of the main differences in this game and one of the ways the Mocs have continually come up with wins in SoCon play.

The Mocs really need to beat Appalachian State and wrap up that two seed on Saturday night. It will be Z Mason's Senior Night, so it should be a good crowd at McKenzie watching the Mocs. It is a huge game for Chattanooga.

How will the Mocs fare in Asheville? That's still too be determined. But with a two or three seed, the Mocs will put themselves in the best position possible to succeed there. Does anyone realize how long it has been since the Mocs have been to the semifinals away from Chattanooga? That's since 2007. I'm really hoping the Mocs can get that far this year. That would be a major step for the program. Getting to the NCAA Tournament would be huge as well, obviously.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's beat Appalachian State on Saturday night and get that two seed.


Four Factors: Western Carolina

Catamounts- 54.1%
Mocs- 54.0%
Advantage- Catamounts

Catamounts- 18.2%
Mocs- 21.1%
Advantage- Catamounts

Catamounts- 36.1%
Mocs- 38.7%
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 36.1%
Mocs- 38.7%
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 3
Mocs- 9
Advantage- Mocs

Catamounts- 44.4%
Mocs- 50.0%
Advantage- Mocs

Possessions: 71

Thursday, February 27, 2014

SoCon Thursday Review

Davidson 79, UNCG 46

Key Stat: Davidson 13 of 27 from threes, UNCG 1 of 12. Holy cow. The Spartans could not make a three to save their lives. Davidson was knocking them down left and right. Davidson is a really good offensive team. They are so dangerous shooting the ball. This team, when they play defense, is very difficult to beat.

Player of the Game: Brian Sullivan. As has become my theory on this Wildcat team, Sullivan is the key to this team. He scored 19 points on 6 of 11 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from three point range. He also collected two rebounds, two assists and one steal. DeMon Brooks had a big night on Senior Night too. He was huge as well.

What It All Means: The Spartans were not just beaten- they were embarrassed. The Spartans have a real chance to wind up in the eight seed at this point in the SoCon Tournament. Of course, that's a disaster, as the Spartans don't want to see Davidson in the quarterfinals. Yikes. A loss by Samford or a win by UNCG would eliminate any chance of that. They can still get the six seed, but the chances look slim, since they close with Wofford. Davidson wrapped up the number one seed in the SoCon Tournament. Now, they get to go seek out revenge for their lone SoCon loss, when they go to Elon. Will this Davidson team playing this hard show up on Saturday night? I think they will since they are looking for revenge. Davidson has held two straight opponents under 50. I've been saying that they are a good defensive team at home, but struggling at defense away from home. We'll see how they play at Elon.

Wofford 63, Elon 59

Key Stat: Elon 3 of 10 from three point range. The Terriers also knocked down seven threes, while the Phoenix only knocked down three. That was the major difference in this one as well. The Terriers played superb defense. They did not play well on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense was very good.

Player of the Game: Karl Cochran. Cochran scored 20 points and collected seven rebounds. Cochran made 7 of 17 from the floor and 6 of 12 from three point range. Cochran's play was impressive and helped the Terriers on the offensive end. He was basically back to the good Cochran after the Davidson game.

What It All Means: Wofford came up with a critical win to finally prove to me that they are for real. That's their second win over a team receiving a bye, and that is the reason that the Terriers win was so important. They really proved how dangerous they can be tonight. I still have concerns because their offense looked mediocre for the second straight game, but this defense is very good and can help them go a long way in Asheville. They have a shot at the two seed. They also could still fall to the fourth seed. The Phoenix did not play particulalry well in this one with so much on the line. That was a lousy way to head into the Davidson game on Saturday night. What happens in Asheville with this team? I'm just not sure. It's too difficult to figure out. This is one tough team to figure out as they head into the SoCon Tournament.

Chattanooga 83, Western Carolina 81 (OT)

Key Stat: Mocs 29 of 38 from the free throw line. Prior to the game, in the preview, I said the Mocs needed to get to the free throw line a lot more than the Catamounts. They went to the line sixteen more times and knocked down fourteen more. They made 76.3% of their free throws, and that was the difference in the game.

Player of the Game: Casey Jones. Jones scored 19 points with seven rebounds and three blocks. He shot 7 of 13 from the field. He made 5 of 5 from the charity stripe. There were specific plays run for Jones and he was converting. He deserves player of the game. Special props to Martynas Bareika, who knocked down a three to tie up the game and also broke up a breakaway basket for the Catamounts that could have been a huge difference in the game.

What It All Means: The Mocs came up with a stunning road win in Cullowhee. It was unexpected, but shows that the Mocs may be back on the right track as they head to Asheville. All they need is to beat Appalachian State on Saturday night and the Mocs will get the two seed. This is a team that when they bring the effort and energy and knock down a few shots can beat anyone in the SoCon. When they don't knock down a few shots or don't bring their best effort and energy, they can lose to anyone in the SoCon. This is another tough team to figure out. The Catamounts continue to fade a bit down the stretch. This was just their second home loss on the year. Western Carolina showed the effort and energy but could not close the deal. I think this team is dangerous in Asheville because of how they have played there in the past, but something seems to be missing from this club. Maybe they are just saving up for the Asheville run. Maybe there is something legitimately wrong. We'll see how they respond on Saturday at Samford. They have locked up the five seed.

Georgia Southern 82, Furman 73

Key Stat: Georgia Southern 31 rebounds, Furman 23. If you are going to beat Georgia Southern, you need to beat them on the boards. Furman did not come close to doing that, and the Eagles came up with the relatively easy road win because of it. They collected ten offensive rebounds as well. That was a big difference in this one, particulalry since the Eagles weren't missing much, shooting well over 50% from the floor.

Player of the Game: Jelani Hewitt. Hewitt poured in 22 points and came up with four steals. Hewitt only made 6 of 14 from the field. He made 3 of 5 from downtown and 7 of 9 from the charity stripe. Hewitt was very good in this one.

What It All Means: The Eagles played one of their best offensive performances in a while. They looked very good on that side. When this team is shooting well, they are really good. They just don't have the big guys in the middle to make the difference and win several games in Asheville. But they will be a tough out for any team that plays them. Furman showed some big flaws in this one. They were beaten at home in a game that the Paladins could have expected to win. I still think this is a dangerous team in Asheville. They are locked in to the ten seed and will play one of four teams on Friday at about 1:30. That may be the best game in the first round. That was Furman's last SoCon game of the regular season.

Appalachian State 63, Samford 57

Key Stat: Samford 25 turnovers. What? How in the world do you commit 25 turnovers? The Mountaineers turned it over 15 times, but the Bulldogs turned it over 25 times. That is absolutely unacceptable for a Bulldog team that has been pretty good on offense this year. The Bulldogs are stumbling down the stretch again, it appears.

Player of the Game: Tommy Spagnolo. Spagnolo scored 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting. He came up with ten rebounds. He had two blocks and two steals as well. Spagnolo has turned into the best Mountaineers player. He can be a force in Asheville.

What It All Means: The Mountaineers went on the road and came up with a really nice win. The win keeps alive their hopes of getting up to the seven seed, which would be huge, because they do not want to be in the 8-9 game, where the winner would play Davidson in the quarters. This team can be dangerous in Asheville, potentially. Spagnolo is turning into a really good player. The Bulldogs simply can't take any positive things to happen to them. The loss to The Citadel could have served as a wake up call. It did not. It was a bad night to be a Bulldog. Can the Bulldogs turn around and beat Western Carolina on Saturday night?

Daily Dribbles-2/27/14

--Thursday previews.

--Western Carolina's tournament information was posted on the Purple & Gold.

--As we head into this final weekend of games, remember that only one seed has been clinched- The Citadel at the eleven seed. All the other seeds are up in the air. I'll have a full breakdown in this space tomorrow of what seeds are clinched and what seeds are not.

--Should be an incredible night of action in the SoCon as the two seed and six seed will come into focus. It should be a thrilling night of basketball. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Western Carolina Preview: One Final Road Moment

The Mocs hit the road one final time in an absolutely critical game against the Western Carolina Catamounts. If the Mocs win and Elon wins against Wofford, the Mocs will have clinched a two or three seed. If Western Carolina wins, they can not clinch anything, but it will put them in good position to get a two or three seed possibly. This is a huge moment for the Mocs and Catamounts and we'll have to see how they respond to the pressure.

These two teams hooked up just two weeks ago. The Mocs won 83-73 in Chattanooga. On that night, the Mocs outrebounded the Catamounts relatively easily. Western Carolina shot 38.2% from the floor and 16% from three point range. Trey Sumler, Brandon Boggs and James Sinclair shot a combined 2 of 19 from three point range. Boggs did make 8 of 15 from the floor and scored 21 points. Tawaski King scored eight points and had six rebounds. Z Mason scored 23 points and had 8 rebounds, while Gee McGhee had one of his best games of his career. McGhee scored 16 points with 15 rebounds, along with five assists. The Mocs also made 71.4% of their free throws that night.

What has to change in this one?

The Catamounts have a propensity for committing fouls and the Mocs get to the free throw line a lot. So that will be a major key for the Mocs- just like it was the first time around. If the Mocs are to win this game, they need to shoot at least nine more free throws like they did in their first meeting.

For Western Carolina, the Catamounts have to shoot the ball at a better clip. The Mocs do not have a particularly good defense and have been getting pounded defensively in the two games since the Western Carolina game. Sumler, Boggs and Sinclair will absolutely need to shoot the ball at a higher percentage and lead this team. King will need to be a bigger presence in the paint.

Then again, there is something about Western Carolina's style that seemed to match up well for the Mocs the first time around. The Mocs seemed to be able to get out and run and seemed to wear out the Catamounts a bit. The Catamounts did not seem to have someone who could match up with McGhee. Mason and King's match-up will also be one of the most critical in the game.

It should be an interesting showdown as both teams need this one desperately. The game will be available on ESPN3 and should be entertaining.


The Catamounts are a very good basketball team at home. They are 11-1 at home this year. However, the Mocs went up to Cullowhee and upset the Catamounts in the second to last game of the year a season ago. So they do know how to win up there. The Mocs have the ability to go into the Ramsey Center and come up the upset. But it's impossible to pick the Mocs, who couldn't win in Greensboro, to turn around and beat Western on Thursday at this point. Every game is different. But the Catamounts will shoot better at home and come up with a very important win. Catamounts 77, Mocs 73.

Daily Dribbles- 2/26/14

--SoCon This Week is here

--This is T-Dog's recap of Appalachian State last week.

--A preview from Purple & Gold of the Chattanooga-Western Carolina game, which is huge Thursday night.

--A huge night on Thursday night, as the two through five seeds will be battling each other, trying to sort out the logjam. Elon and Western Carolina have the edge over Wofford and Chattanooga because they are at home. Thursday is going to be a huge night.

--Not only that, but Davidson will be going for clinching the one seed on Thursday night. All they have to do is win at home against UNCG. That's all. No big deal. Right? Stranger things have happened than the talented Spartans finally putting together a near perfect game and upsetting the Wildcats. It's possible....but not likely.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SoCon This Week- Week Nine

Scanning the SoCon- Week Seventeen
Official SoCon Weekly Release
Game of the Week- Davidson at Elon
Thursday Preview
Saturday Preview
Thursday Review
Saturday Review

SoCon Monster Game of the Week- Davidson at Elon

The Wildcats and Phoenix are currently the top two teams in the league, and could have clinched
those spots by Saturday night's game if both teams win Thursday and Western Carolina beats Chattanooga that night. However, these two teams have budding rivalry going. The Phoenix are the only team to beat Davidson in SoCon play. That came in a furious comeback in Davidson, which they concluded by winning in overtime.

Now, Davidson will be looking for revenge against the Phoenix in their building. Each of these schools is leaving the SoCon next year, so this may be their final meeting for a while. Or it could be their first of two meetings in ten days time, as they could easily meet again in the SoCon Tournament. If both teams have clinched their spots in the tournament, it will be interesting to see what these teams do in terms of gameplan and rotation of players against each other.

Davidson has a couple of flaws that have not been fatal yet that are on full display. They are not a great rebounding team, but a good one. They are a team that struggles defensively away from home at times. If DeMon Brooks gets into foul trouble, they have really struggled at times. The Wildcats are hoping to prove that some of those things are not as much of a flaw as they appear to be. They need to rebound well. They need to play solid defense in a road contest.

The Wildcats obviously rely heavily on Brooks. Brooks is averaging 18.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest. He is shooting 58.3% from the floor. He also is coming up with .8 blocks per game. Brooks really leads the Wildcats when he avoids foul trouble. He's come up with four fouls four times in SoCon play and fouled out of one game- against Elon, the lone SoCon loss.

Brian Sullivan has been playing very well lately for the Wildcats. He is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.9 points per game and 2.2 assists. He has knocked down 74 threes so far this for 37.6% from long range. Tyler Kalinoski and Tom Droney have been the two biggest surprises on the team. Kalinoski averages 3.4 assists and Droney 3.3 assists, while each averages 11.1 points per game. Jake Belford is an important player down low for Davidson, as well. When Brooks was in foul trouble in the first half against Wofford and Belford was injured for a moment, Wofford started their big run of the game.

Elon has a talented starting five. Lucas Troutman is averaging 15.7 points per game to go along with 6.4 rebounds per contest. He also averages 1.9 blocks per game. He is shooting 53.5% from the floor. He will be a significant challenge to Brooks in the paint. The two will have a battle down there that should be tremendous.

Ryley Beaumont is the other big for the Phoenix. He is averaging 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Beaumont has been critical during much of this eight game win streak. Sebastian Koch and Tanner Samson are the two best three point shooters. Koch is shooting 44.4% from long range, while Samson is shooting 42.8% from beyond the arc. Jack Isenbarger is the lone remaining starter, and he has been struggling for much of the year. He is averaging 9.5 points per game.

The Phoenix are the best defensive team in the SoCon in eFG%. Opponents have an eFG of 46.1%. They are the second best shooting team in the league, behind the Wildcats. They give up too many rebounds and do not force many turnovers. Elon is a very good team.


Elon is hungry to prove at home that the first game was no fluke. Then again, Davidson is hoping to avenge their only loss. If everything is already arranged in the seedings, it is a little difficult to know what team will be playing hard and for what purpose. That being said, I'll still hold onto Davidson being the one that wants the win more. Brooks is a great player and the Wildcats show up and come up with a narrow win. Wildcats 77, Phoenix 74.

Schedule- Week Nine


Georgia Southern at Furman, 7:00 PM
The Paladins wrap up their SoCon schedule holding onto the chance of moving up to the nine seed. The Eagles are holding out hope for the six seed still.

Chattanooga at Western Carolina, 7:00 PM
This battle will be very important in sorting out the seeds two through five. The Catamounts have been very good at home this year so far, and the Mocs will try to surprise them.

UNCG at Davidson, 7:00 PM
Davidson is going for the SoCon title clincher, while UNCG is trying to earn the six seed in the SoCon Tournament.

Wofford at Elon, 7:00 PM
This game is as big as they get in the battle for the two through five seed. The Terriers have beaten just one team that is receiving a bye, while the Phoenix are hoping against hope that they can keep their slim SoCon championship hopes alive.

Appalachian State at Samford, 8:00 PM
The Mountaineers are trying to avoid the ten seed and have hopes for the seven seed. Beating Samford would serve two purposes- knocking down the Bulldogs a peg and lifitng the Mountaineers one. Big game.


Western Carolina at Samford, 7:00 PM
The Catamounts may be in good shape for the two or three seed with a win. They can ill afford a slip up against the Bulldogs. Western Carolina has struggled away from home. Samford's been good at home.

Appalachian State at Chattanooga, 7:00 PM
The Mountaineers will have a shot at the seven seed if they can sweep this week. The Mocs could still have a shot at the two seed, depending on the way the games have fallen until now in the week. They will certainly enter the night with a shot at the all important three seed.

Davidson at Elon, 7:00 PM
This is a rematch of the one game Davidson has lost in SoCon play. The Wildcats may have nothing to play for but pride. Elon will have the two seed wrapped up if they beat Wofford on Thursday and Western Carolina beats Chattanooga and Davidson beats UNCG. So, while this game looks great on paper, it could mean nothing.

UNCG at Wofford, 7:00 PM
The Spartans will almost certainly be battling for the important six seed in this one. Coming up with the win over the Terriers may be easier said than done. Wofford could be fighting it out for the three seeed.

Georgia Southern at The Citadel, 7:00 PM
The Bulldogs gun for their second straight win. The Eagles will be possibly gunning for the six seed. This game could be semi-interesting.

SoCon Saturday Preview

A daily preview of each SoCon game.

Saturday Thought

The final night of SoCon action takes place tonight. Who knows what seeding positions will be on the line? Davidson and Elon will hook up in a rematch of an overtime classic in Davidson which the Phoenix won. Should be an entertaining final day as we find out where teams will be seeded heading into the SoCon Tournament.

Western Carolina at Samford

The Catamounts have struggled away from home this year. Will they show up for a very important game at Samford? The Bulldogs have struggled to put together back-to-back great games. But they have a much better chance of putting that together at home. Tim Williams and Raijon Kelly will need to come up with solid performances. Williams against the Catamounts Tawaski King will be a tremendous match-up. The Bulldogs are a good offensive team, but not a good defensive team. Brandon Boggs is one of the SoCon's more underrated players. Will he have a big game in this one? Possibly. I think Samford comes up with the home upset to close out the regular season. Bulldogs 76, Catamounts 75.

Appalachian State at Chattanooga

The Mocs are struggling right now. Make no mistake about that. However, this is Z Mason's Senior Night and the Mocs will need to show up. The Mountaineers have not been playing great basketball. The Mocs will have a shot at the third seed heading into Saturday night regardless of Thursday's outcomes, and possibly have a shot at the two seed, depending on Thursday's results. Jay Canty had a good game the last time these two teams matched up in Boone. Tommy Spagnolo has stepped up since then. Gee McGhee and Casey Jones seem like the two Mocs most likely to have big games against these Mountaineers in this one. Also, look for Mason to have a huge night as well. The Mocs pull off the home win to wrap up the season. Mocs 78, Mountaineers 69.

Davidson at Elon

The Phoenix beat Davidson in overtime and could possibly be playing for the one seed in this one. They could also be playing for locking down the two seed. Or both teams could have locked the one and two seed positions heading into this one. Can DeMon Brooks stay out of foul trouble this time around? How intense will the game be if both teams have locked up their seeding? Lucas Troutman against DeMon Brooks is almost as good as it gets in the SoCon. Davidson really wants revenge. Elon really wants to come up with the sweep and prove themselves. Davidson will want it just a little more. Wildcats 77, Phoenix 74.

UNCG at Wofford

The Spartans will likely be playing with the six seed on the line. The Terriers will be playing for possibly as high as the two seed. They could fall all the way to the five seed with a loss. The Spartans will need Kayel Locke, RJ White and Kyle Cain to dominate in the paint against the smaller Terriers. However, Tevon Saddler and his ability may be more important in this one. He will be matching up with Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins. That will be very difficult for the Spartans defense to control those two guys. This is a great opportunity for the Spartans, but the Terriers are the favorite in this one. Wofford will play very well in this one, unless their confidence is shot after Elon and Davidson. Terriers 69, Spartans 58.

Georgia Southern at The Citadel

The Eagles have Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey. The question is what does Ashton Moore do for the Bulldogs. Moore has been playing so well. Can he keep it up? How much will this game matter to the Bulldogs? Will they get back-to-back wins? Or will the Eagles win as they strive to get all the way up to the six seed? This should be a pretty good game, actually, particularly if The Citadel continues to improve and play with confidence after their win over Samford. That being said, Hewitt and Bussey are really good players and will be too much for the Bulldogs. Eagles 65, Bulldogs 61.

SoCon Thursday Preview

A daily preview of each SoCon game.

Thursday Thought

The number one seed can be wrapped up if Davidson wins today. Chattanooga, Western Carolina, Elon and Wofford are fighting for the second through fifth seeed and all battle each other. That's a critical match-up for those two teams. Should be a very interesting day.

Georgia Southern at Furman

The Paladins are a dangerous club right now. Yes, they have been blown away a couple of time. Adonis Rwabigwi and Kendrec Ferrara are two bigs. Charlie Reddick has been playing better lately. Of course, the most interesting match-up will be Furman's Stephen Croone against Georgia Southern's Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey. That guard match-up is tremendous. These two teams hooked up  earlier this year, and the Eagles won in overtime at home. Should be an interesting match-up. The Paladins are playing better basketball. Furman comes up with the very slight upset. Paladins 71, Eagles 70.

Chattanooga at Western Carolina

The Catamounts have been tremendous in the SoCon at home. The Mocs have lost their last three SoCon road games. So this is a very tough match-up for the Mocs. The Mocs and Catamounts played in Chattanooga not that long ago, and the Mocs looked pretty good that day. Western Carolina did not shoot the ball well that day. The Mocs also outrebounded the Catamounts. Z Mason against Tawaski King is one big match-up. Of course, Trey Sumler is the Catamounts star and James Sinclair is very good as well. The Mocs energy willl be key in this one. They will need to continue to bring that energy and enthusiasm and not play like they played against Georgia Southern. The Catamounts need to play like they have at home all year. This will be a war, but the Catamounts pull it out. Catamounts 77, Mocs 73.

UNCG at Davidson

The Spartans are currently in sixth in the SoCon and they need to come up with wins in order to secure that spot. Davidson just needs to come up with a win in this one to lock down the number one seed. UNCG has a great opportunity here. Kayel Locke, Kyle Cain and RJ White need to be playing big and need to control DeMon Brooks. All of those four players have struggled with foul trouble at times this year. The team that stays out of foul trouble the best will likely win this. The Wildcats offense has been so efficient. They are likely to score plenty of points against the Spartans, and Brian Sullivan has been hot. The question is if the Spartans are going to be able to keep up. I'll bet against it. Wildcats 80, Spartans 71.

Wofford at Elon

The Terriers have only beaten one SoCon team that is getting a bye so far. So there are some questions about if they really are the second best team in the SoCon. This is a prove it game for Wofford- in every way. Can they win at Elon? Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins need to have big games. Lee Skinner will need to control Lucas Troutman. I'm not sure how Skinner will be able to match up with him. Tanner Samson and Sebastian Koch are good three point shooters. The Phoenix will come up with a very tight home win thanks to Koch, Samson and Jack Isenbarger. Phoenix 66, Terriers 64.

Appalachian State at Samford

The Mountaineers have Jay Canty and Tommy Spagnolo. Each have been playing OK, and are quite capable of playing very well. They are dangerous in Asheville. That being said, they have not been playing particularly good basketball. The Bulldogs need Tim Williams to step up in a big way. They have been losing lately, but those were road games. They have been a better home team. Raijon Kelly is a streaky player too, and has been playing better at home as well. The Bulldogs at home are the better team than the Mountaineers. They inch closer to possibly locking down the six seed in this one, despite the loss to The Citadel on Monday. Bulldogs 76, Mountaineers 70.

Daily Dribbles- 2/25/14

--SoCon Monday review here.

--Ashton Moore was tremendous on Monday night for The Citadel. Lucas Troutman was great for Elon. It was actually a night for big performances in the SoCon.

--The Citadel has locked up the eleven seed. That is the only spot clinched at this point in Asheville. Davidson needs to win a game on Thursday against UNCG to clinch first. If Furman loses to Georgia Southern or if Appalachian State wins either of their final two games against Samford or Chattanooga, Furman will clinch the ten seed. If the Mountaineers lose out and the Paladins win one, Furman gets the nine and the Mountaineers get the ten seed.

--Here's the various seeds high and low teams could still get:
Davidson (High-1, Low-2)
Elon (High-1, Low-5)
Chattanooga (High-2, Low-5)
Wofford (High-2, Low-5)
Western Carolina (High-2, Low-5)
UNCG (High-6, Low-8)
Georgia Southern (High-6, Low-9)
Samford (High-6, Low-9)
Appalachian State (High-7, Low-10)
Furman (High-9, Low-10)
The Citadel (High-11, Low-11)

Still plenty to play for in these final two days.

Monday, February 24, 2014

SoCon Monday in Review

Elon 78, Furman 49

Key Stat: Furman shot 30% from the floor. The Paladins were ice cold in every respect. They shot 30% from the floor. They shot 28.6% from three point range. They shot 56.5% from the free throw line. They committed 15 turnovers. That was an absolutely terrible offensive performance for the Paladins.

Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman was the only player on the Phoenix to score double digits. He scored 23 points on 11 of 15 shooting from the floor. He also had seven rebounds. That was quite a performance by the best player the Phoenix have on the roster.

What It All Means: The Phoenix were tremendous in this one. With games at home against Wofford and Davidson left, the Phoenix may actually have a shot at the SoCon regular season title. Of course, they are gunning for finishing in the top three of the SoCon at this point. They are playing their best basketball of the year. They need to be, as this closing stretch is brutal. This was maybe their best performance of the year. For Furman, this was a very disappointing performance. After playing well in recent weeks, the Paladins had to think they had a shot at the home upset. As it is, they did not play well. But that is OK for this team. It all comes down to Asheville for them, and I still maintain that this team will play well for at least one day there.

The Citadel 81, Samford 71

Key Stat: Bulldogs 20 of 26 from the free throw line. The Citadel knocked down 20 of 26 from the line. Samford made just 9 of 14. That was an eleven point difference from the charity stripe and the Bulldogs won by ten. That was the difference.

Player of the Game: Ashton Moore. Moore is the reigning SoCon Player of the Week and he played remarkable today. He scored 24 points with two rebounds and three assists. He made 7 of 12 from the field. He made 3 of 5 from three point range and 7 of 9 from the free throw line.

What It All Means: Samford is now in big trouble for getting the sixth seed in the SoCon Tournament. They beat UNCG, who is currently in sixth. They lost to Georgia Southern, who they are currently tied for seventh with. That means they are in the eighth spot right now. They host Appalachian State and Western Carolina to wrap up the season. They certainly need at least a split to get out of the dreaded 8-9 game. Two wins would mean they need just a loss by either Georgia Southern (not unlikely, but not exactly likely) or UNCG (very likely) to get out of the 8-9 game. They have a shot at two wins  coming home for the first time since beating Chattanooga. But this loss was ugly and disappointing. For The Citadel, the school record 17 game losing streak is over. The Bulldogs finally have their first SoCon win. Ashton Moore is good and Matt Van Scyoc stepped up as well. The Bulldogs may be able to turn this into two wins (after all, they have Georgia Southern at home in the finale- not an impossible win), but it still seems very unlikely that this team comes up with an upset in Asheville.

Daily Dribbles- 2/24/14

--Sunday review here.

--Monday preview here.

--Western Carolina set a new team record for most blocked shots in a single season with nine against The Citadel on Saturday. Very interesting.

--Four Years of Capel. This is a very interesting piece (which looks like it could be the beginning of an interesting series) by T-Dog. Well worth the read.

--AppHoops has a write up from last Friday.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scanning the SoCon- Week Seventeen

Scanning the SoCon is in the third year and hopefully this will be the best year yet. Several bloggers  and fans from around the SoCon answer questions each week.


Samford at The Citadel
Elon at Furman
Georgia Southern at Furman
Chattanooga at Western Carolina
UNCG at Davidson
Wofford at Elon
Appalachian State at Samford

Davidson at Elon
UNCG at Wofford
Georgia Southern at The Citadel
Appalachian State at Chattanooga
Western Carolina at Samford


1)      Davidson 88 (8)
2)      Elon 78
3)      Wofford 66
4)      Chattanooga 65
5)      Western Carolina 63
6)      UNCG 43
7)      Georgia Southern 39
8)      Samford 38
9t) Appalachian State 20
9t) Furman 20
11) The Citadel 8


DeMon Brooks, Davidson- 3 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Trey Sumler, Western Carolina (1 vote), Karl Cochran, Wofford (1), Lucas Troutman (1), Kyle Cain (1)


Davidson at Elon- 4 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Wofford at Elon (3 votes), Chattanooga at Western Carolina (1)


Sum up your team.

Georgia Southern- Things are still pretty much the same as they have been all year in Statesboro. When Hewitt and Bussey are on top of their game GSU is as good as any team in the league. But when those two are off GSU can be beat by any team in the league. The Eagles showed that this week when Hewitt and Bussey combined for 49 points in a win over UTC and then combined for only 29 in the loss to Elon. A recent bright spot has been the rebounding of Marvin Baynham who has had back to back double digit rebounding games. Freshman Kyle Doyle was starting to becoming another low post scoring threat for the Eagles after scoring double digits in three straight games, two of which he had double-doubles, but a nagging elbow injury forced him to sit out a couple games. If GSU is going to try and pull off a miracle run in Asheville they will need Doyle as close to 100% as possible. The Eagles still have almost no bench and usually play only 7 guys for the most part. For a team that isn't going to be getting a first round bye in the conference tournament that's an uphill battle to be facing.

Samford- Disappointing. There are signs that there are some talented young players with potential to make noise in the SoCon on the team. There have been two constants this year: One is inconsistency, the other is Tim Williams. He may be the best player in the SoCon.

The Citadel- When the local beat writer is reduced to having to interview members of The Citadel's 1953-54 squad, you know it's been a long season. At least Leo Zack wasn't coaching scholarship players; Chuck Driesell doesn't have that excuse. Just a miserable, miserable year.

Western Carolina- Western Carolina is now 5-1 during the month of February, and seems to show signs of coming together down the stretch. at 17-12 with two regular season games to go (one home and one on the road) the Cats have a valid chance of hitting the 20 game win mark this season. The Cats will face Chattanooga on Thursday, in Cullowhee where the Cats are 10-1 this season, playing a Chattanooga team that has lost 5 of their last 7, and four of their last 5 games. Then ending the season on the road at Samford.

Dean Keener talked about the National Letter of Intent in Dean’s List this past week.  What are your thoughts on this?

Georgia Southern- I wouldn't have a problem with allowing student-athletes to sign a NLI earlier than they can now, but I think that there should be a clause that allows the player out of the NLI if the head coach either leaves or gets fired.

Samford-Regarding national letters of intent, I think the idea of letting players commit when they are freshmen or sophomores is an absolutely stupid idea. Rather than encouraging coaches to recruit prospects (13, 14, 15 year old children) and "sign them" sooner, why not delay it. I would prevent coaches from making contact with players until after their junior season and then have an early signing period their senior year for those who don't want to go through the recruiting process during their senior season and a late signing period for those who want to wait.

The Citadel- Wait, he wants to lock in players for a full two years? Why should a player sign a document that is binding to him but not the institution? Good players should never sign an NLI; instead, a player with options should settle for nothing less than scholarship papers that have to be honored by the school.

Western Carolina- I don't think the NLI process will change anytime soon. There will be problems with any procedure and the current process works fine in my opinion.

Tournament style play is different. How do you think your teams style will play in Asheville?

Georgia Southern- I'm still holding out hope that Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey catch fire in Asheville and GSU goes on a miracle run. They will need help from Angel Matias and Kyle Doyle down low as well as either Brian Holmes or Curtis Diamond having above average games. But the reality is that GSU is a team that basically only goes 7 deep and if Hewitt or Bussey have an off night it's season over for the Eagles. I think GSU's style of play will be just fine for the tournament but the team is going to have a tough time making a serious run.

Samford- Samford has not faired well in conference play in recent years. It would be progress just to win a tournament game. Samford's style requires a lot of energy, with a relatively short bench. That doesn't bode well for having enough energy in the tank for multiple games in a row. Samford struggles with energy and effectiveness on the defensive end as it is--winning three or four games in four days is ambitious.

The Citadel- The Citadel will make an appearance in Asheville, and will probably be on time for the 4pm tip on Friday.

Western Carolina- The Cats play an aggressive style defense, which can result in high personal foul numbers. If the Cats can control their fouls, and continue with their offensive scoring capability, they have a legit chance to go deep in the tournament. This group of seniors wants a championship, I guess we'll see how bad they want it.

In honor of the Big Three in the NBA, name the top trio on a team in the SoCon.

Georgia Southern-Looking at it, there are several teams who have a very good trio leading the way. Answering this question also made me realize what separates Davidson from the pack....they have more than 3. I'm going to go with UTC's trio of Mason, Jones, and McGhee though. I'll put them slightly ahead of Williams, Williams, and Kelly from Samford; Troutman, Koch, and Isenbarger from Elon; Sumler, Boggs, and Sinclair from WCU; and Hewitt, Bussey, and Matias from GSU.

The Citadel- Eh, I'm not buying that any team in the league has a legit "Big 3". If I had to name one, I would probably go for Isenbarger/Beaumont/Troutman at Elon.

Western Carolina- My selection for the "Big Three" in a SoCon team is Lucas Troutman, Ryley Beaumont, and Jack Isenbarger of Elon. These three seniors were named to the SoCon preseason all conference team and are major reason why Elon was selected by both the coaches and media as favorites to win the conference title. All three are 1,000+ scorers and Elon is currenlty sitting in second place in the conference standing with one week to go in the season.

Spartans 88, Mocs 84

The Mocs lost another disappointing game to the Spartans on Sunday afternoon. The Mocs controlled the boards, but simply could not make enough shots and could not play good enough defense against the Spartans.

The good news for the Mocs is that they played significantly harder than they did against Georgia Southern on Thursday night. They looked much better. It simply did not work out for the Mocs on Sunday.

The Spartans were desperate to come up with a win against a SoCon team that had received a bye. They finally got it. It was their first of the year and they earned it.

The referees, as seem to be commonplace in games that UNCG participate in, called a remarkable 57 fouls. The two teams combined for 77 free throws. Casey Jones fouled out, TJ Williams and Lance Stokes each picked up four fouls. Martynas Bareika and Rico White each picked up three. It was brutal.

Jones scored 21 points with 11 rebounds. He was a monster again. Jones has truly turned into one of the most underrated players in the SoCon. He will almost certainly be one of the keys to the Mocs success in the SoCon Tournament. Z Mason made just 3 of 15 from the floor, but still managed to score 19 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

The Mocs still have a chance to get well this week. They need to get the two or three seed, and to pull that off, they need to win out. If they can't win out, they will need some help. They can get that help, but need to get things off to a good start.

The Mocs knocked down 75.6% from the free throw line. That was very important for the Mocs. The Mocs need to continue shooting well from the charity stripe. That will be important down the stretch.

The Spartans shot the ball well from three point range, and continue to clog the paint on Z Mason. If the Mocs start shooting the ball better, they will have a chance to start winning again. The Mocs also need to find a way to slow down the opposing three point shooters. It had been working out for the Mocs, but failed to happen in this one.

They fought hard in this one all the way until the bitter end. Who knows what the future holds for the Mocs? They need to get back to work and really prepare for a battle against Western Carolina. Thursday will be huge.


Four Factors: UNCG

Spartans- 52.5%
Mocs- 42.4%
Advantage- Spartans

Spartans- 14.6%
Mocs- 20.4%
Advantage- Spartans

Spartans- 28.9%
Mocs- 42.9%
Advantage- Mocs

Spartans- 53.3%
Mocs- 76.2%
Advantage- Mocs

Spartans- 53.8%
Mocs- 23.5%
Advantage- Spartans

Spartans- 10
Mocs- 8
Advantage- Spartans

Possessions: 77

SoCon Sunday Review

UNCG 88, Chattanooga 84

Key Stat: UNCG 53.8% from three point range. The Spartans knocked down 7 of 13 from three point range and made 53.8%. The Mocs were the top three point percentage defense in the SoCon prior to Thursday's game. However, the Mocs three point defense has not been good as of late. The Spartans knocked down seven threes. The Mocs just knocked down four.

Player of the Game: Kyle Cain. Cain scored 24 points with ten rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks. Cain knocked down 7 of 10 from the floor along with 9 of 10 from the free throw line. He is a very good SoCon player, and will need to play like it if the Spartans are going to survive in Asheville for long.

What It All Means: The Mocs fell to 10-4 in SoCon play, which means that they are in a tie for third at the moment with Western Carolina and Wofford and a half game back on Elon. The Mocs travel to Western Carolina on Thursday and then host Appalachian State. They now need some help to finish second. They have to win out to guarantee a third place finish. The Mocs are struggling right now. Will they turn it around in time? Who knows, but it better start this week if it is going to. UNCG finds themselves in sixth now, a half game ahead of Samford and a full game ahead of Georgia Southern. The Spartans finishing kick is still brutal. They have to go to Davidson and Wofford. The Spartans finally came up with the win against top SoCon competition that they have been searching for. I'm going to have to see the Spartans match-up in Asheville before determining my thoughts on their fortunes in the tournament.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

UNCG Preview: Road Tested

The Mocs head on the road after one of their worst performances of the year, a shocking final 25
minutes that saw the Mocs go from up 12 to losing by 16. At home.

Now the Mocs go on the road to take on UNCG. The Spartans are fighting for the sixth seed. The Mocs are fighting for the second seed. There is a lot of importance in this game. Can the Spartans finally come up with a big win? Can the Mocs get the critical road win they desperately need to get?

The Spartans will rely on their inside game. Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke are big and very impressive players. RJ White is too. However, those guys all have a hard time staying out of foul trouble. That is the key for the Spartans. If Cain, Locke and White can stay out of foul trouble, they will have every opportunity to win this game. However, with how much they get into foul trouble and how impressive the Mocs have been at getting opponents into foul trouble, that may be easier said than done.

Tevon Saddler is one of the most impressive point guards in the SoCon, at least as a freshman. Saddler can do plenty of scoring if he can avoid turnovers. Saddler is a serious threat to the Mocs defense as he drives into the paint.

The first time these two teams hooked up, Saddler scored 24 points. White, Locke and Cain combined for 29 points...and ten fouls. They combined for just 76 minutes of action. That's not enough from the big guys. They did outrebound the Mocs, but committed more turnovers. Casey Jones scored 22 points with four rebounds, three assists, and five steals. Z Mason scored 15 and had six rebounds.

This is going to be an interesting game for both teams. The key for UNCG remains staying out of foul trouble with their bigs and taking quality shots on the offensive end of the floor. For the Mocs, the key will be to knock down shots and slow down Saddler. The Mocs need to play aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.


This is going to be a war. The Spartans got beaten by Elon pretty badly on Wednesday night. The Mocs got humbled by Georgia Southern on Thursday. The Spartans are hungry for a home win against a top team. I truthfully don't know which team shows up on either side. When that happens, I guess you go with the home team. The Mocs will be primed to not be outhustled and outworked again like they were Thursday. That is almost enough to take the Mocs. This will be a war and should come down to the buzzer. Spartans 69, Mocs 67.

SoCon Saturday Review

Furman 68, Appalachian 53

Key Stat: Appalachian State 31.1% from the floor. The Mountaineers really struggled from the floor. It was ugly. Despite the fact that they dominated the offensive glass, the Mountaineers could not convert enough shots to keep this game close.

Player of the Game: Stephen Croone. Croone scored 15 points, six assists, three steals, and two rebounds. He only made 4 of 7 from the floor, but also made 6 of 7 from the free throw line. Croone is such a special player for the Paladins.

What It All Means: For the Mountaineers, this loss is disappointing. It's not just that they lost, but that they lost by 15 points and were really non-competitive in a lot of ways. They now sit a game and a half out of the six seed and just a game up on Furman for the tenth seed. The Mountaineers have lost three in a row, and finish up at Samford and at Chattanooga. My belief that this team would be a tough out in Asheville appears to be wrong. The Paladins are pretty far back in the SoCon race for seventh, which would be a significant jump. They are down two games on Georgia Southern. They host Elon and Georgia Southern next week. However, they are just one game down on Appalachian State for ninth. They have clinched no worse than the ten seed now. That's good. I'm here to say that I think Furman wins a game in Asheville and, with the right match-up, could be a tough out for the high seed in the quarterfinals. No one wants to see a hot Croone with Kendrec Ferrara and Adonis Rwabigwi in the paint, along with Charlie Reddick starting to play better, like he is right now. That is a much better team than the ten seed that they are slated at right now.

Elon 66, Georgia Southern 61

Key Stat: Elon 10 made three pointers. The Phoenix knocked down 10 of 28 from long range. The reality for the Phoenix is that when they are knocking down threes and Lucas Troutman is playing well, they are very difficult to beat. Those threes really provided the difference. Another key was that Georgia Southern only knocked 4 of 19 from three point range. When the Eagles shoot that poorly, they aren't going to get it done too often.

Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman scored 20 points with 6 rebounds, an assist, and four blocks. He made 9 of 15 from the floor for the game, but just 2 of 6 from the free throw line. Regardless, Troutman was the best player on the floor in this one. When he plays like that, the Phoenix are a very tough out.

What It All Means: The Phoenix are, as of this moment, tied for second with Chattanooga. They go to Furman on Monday (not as easy as it sounds) and have home dates with Wofford and Davidson to wrap up the season. This team has won seven straight, but something still seems slightly amiss to me. I'm not sure what the results next week will be for the Phoenix, but they may be in better shape than most with getting the four or five seed. Playing Davidson in the semifinals will not intimidate them, regardless of the outcome of this week's game. The Eagles did not follow up their stellar game at Chattanooga with a stellar performance here. They did not shoot well. They hung around and kept it interesting, but couldn't finish the job. The race for sixth is still very much there. They go to Furman and The Citadel this week, so that's not a terrible schedule. They are in decent position for the six seed if they win out. The Eagles are capable of beating anyone...or losing to anyone.

Western Carolina 70, The Citadel 52

Key Stat: Bulldogs 31.5% from the floor. The Bulldogs did not make shots today. If they had, the Bulldogs may have been able to pull off the upset. But the Catamounts defense has been stellar all season. This was just another example.

Player of the Game: Trey Sumler. Sumler scored 18 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. I continue to be impressed with Sumler here late in the year. He made 5 of 10 from the floor and 2 of 4 from three point range, while going 6 of 7 from the free throw line. In other words, he didn't miss much on Saturday afternoon and was one of the key reasons the Catamounts came up with the win.

What It All Means: The Bulldogs are still winless in SoCon play. They host Samford and Georgia Southern. Can they come up with a SoCon win? Maybe. Can they win in Asheville? I kind of doubt it. They just aren't good enough. They don't match up well with Western Carolina, though. Fortunately for them, that would definitely not be the first round match-up in Asheville. Western Carolina suddenly is in decent shape. They've won five out of six and three in a row. They host Chattanooga and go to Samford to close out the year. They need to win out and get some help to finish in the third seed, but it's not impossible. Most importantly, they just need to keep on winning to keep the momentum going.

Davidson 59, Wofford 49

Key Stat: Cochran and Collins combined 37.9% from the floor. This is interesting. The Wildcats shot over 50% from the floor, but the key was that the Wildcats defense shut down the Terriers. The key to the Terriers offense is the shooting percentage of Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins. Collins did make 5 of 11 but Cochran made just 6 of 18. That's not really acceptable for the Terriers to have a good chance to win.

Player of the Game: DeMon Brooks. Brooks was in foul trouble in the first half. He made just 6 of 6 from the floor. He made 6 of 7 from the free throw line. In the end, he scored 18 points and had eight rebounds to go along with five assists. One of the most important things in this one was the Brooks avoided foul trouble in the second half, because the Wildcats were a different team in the first half with him on the bench.

What It All Means: Oh, Terriers! How you confound me! The Terriers have only beaten one team that is going to get a bye. They had won eight straight heading in, and the Terriers offense had been so much better. Going against a Davidson defense that has struggled at times, they were ceompletely shut down. Cochran looked like the Cochran of last year again. They go to Elon and host UNCG this week. It's going to be a major challenge to avoid the four-five game at this point. They really have to win both games, more than likely. They could do it, but it will be tough. On the other side, Davidson has played much better defense at home than on the road, and it again showed up. They are a very good offensive team, no doubt, but the defense can be questionable. Still, tonight, they turned the ball over too much and that was the reason the Terriers hung around. Also, Brooks has to avoid foul trouble. This is why there has to be questions about whether or not they can win three games in three days in Asheville- at least compared to the questions in recent years. The Wildcats came up with another solid win, so don't take things too harshly to the Wildcats. They are a very good SoCon basketball team.

Friday, February 21, 2014

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Wofford at Davidson

Wofford has won eight straight SoCon games ad will go for number nine on Saturday night. They are
down two games to Davidson. If the Terriers are going to make any push at the SoCon title, they must win this game on Saturday night. The Wildcats can get in a real position to clinch the SoCon regular season title. This is a very important game for the Terriers and Wildcats as they battle for the regular season title and fight for respect as they head into the Southern Conference Tournament.

The Terriers have won eight straight games in SoCon play and that is because Karl Cochran, Spencer Collins and Lee Skinner have been playing so well together. Cochran and Collins used to volume shooters but not scoring in a high enough volume. Not so anymore. Cochran is averaging 15.4 points per game, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.6 blocks per game, all team highs. He is second on the team with rebounds- 4.9 per contest. In other words, Cochran is playing near SoCon Player of the Year level. He has been unbelievable. I have not thought that for much of his career, but have been forced to reevaluate my opinion due to his stellar play.

Collins has not been quite as good. He is averaging 13.4 points per game. He scored zero against The Citadel and just nine against Furman in the most recent outing. He scored 14 against both Appalachian State and Hiwassee in-between. That means that he is averaging just 9.3 points per game in his last four. He hasn't been getting quite as many shots.

Lee Skinner's play has stepped up lately. He is averaging 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In SoCon games he is averaging 10.3 rebounds per game. He has been critical to the Terriers play. He is their tallest player, and, in some ways, their most imporatt. He and Cochran have developed a bond that seems to be making the Terriers play better.

The Wildcats need just two more wins to clinch the SoCon title. Obviously, DeMon Brooks is pretty critical to the Wildcats. He is one of the leaders in the SoCon Player of the Year race. Brooks is the team's leading scorer and rebounder. He's averaging 18.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He finds himself in foul trouble at times and he needs to avoid foul trouble if at all possible in this one. His match-up with Skinner could be entertaining if both stay out of foul trouble. Brooks is shooting an astounding 57.2% from the floor.

To me, Brian Sullivan has turned into the Wildcats most important player.  Sullivan is shooting 37.6% from three point range and averaging 13.2 points per game. He has really picked it up lately, averaging 19.5 points per game in the last four games. Sullivan has turned into one of the best players in the SoCon as of late and needs to continue that hot streak for the Wildcats.

The problem for the Wildcats has been their defense. In recent games, there have been lapses. Most commonly, those lapses seem to be happening away from home. The Wildcats will have to play better defense if they are going to win in the semifinals and finals in Asheville. In this one, I will be watchig the Wildcat defense to see how they play against the Terriers improved offense.


The Terriers have probably the best SoCon defese. The Wildcats have the best SoCon offese. The Wildcats defense has been downright bad at some points. The Terriers offense has improved a lot since their first meeting earlier this year. That being said, I think the Wildcats will find a way at home because of how effective their offense is. To me, this is the SoCon Game of the Year. Davidson may disagree and say the game at Elon is bigger. I don't care about that one. This one takes the cake. Wildcats 79, Terriers 74.

Daily Dribbles- 2/21/14

--Thursday reviews here

--Saturday previews here.

--Sunday preview here.

--The race for second and third really got interesting. Chattanooga, Elon and Wofford are all tied for second. Western Carolina is one game back and has clinched the final bye. Chattanooga has two road games coming up. So does Wofford. Wofford's are tougher, going to Davidson and Elon, while the Mocs go to UNCG and Western Carolina. Elon hosts Wofford and Davidson. Western Carolina hosts Chattanooga next Thursday in a key game. Very interesting time for these clubs fighting for those spots.

--Purple & Gold recap of the win in Boone.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Eagles 77, Mocs 61

The Mocs jumped out to a 16-5 lead and then a 32-23 lead late in the first half. And then it all fell apart, in the most horrific ways imaginable.

There was not a lot of sustained energy from the Mocs for the final 25 minutes of the game. They did not get after loose balls or play consistently tough defense after that. Every time something went wrong, it seemed to balloon into multiple things wrong. One such situation was when the Mocs were down by 7, 48-41, and Rico White was at the line to shoot two. The best free throw shooter on the Mocs missed them both. Georgia Southern came down and drained a three. Instead of being down five, the lead had ripped up to ten suddenly.

That may have been the turning point of the game in a lot of ways.

The Mocs did not shoot well from the free throw line, and despite actually playing a team that is smaller than them, they were outrebounded. After forcing seven early turnovers, they only forced seven in the final 35 minutes.

This was one of those performances that the Mocs need to put behind them. Quickly. UNCG looms on Sunday and that will not be easy. The Mocs need to win two of their final three to get the three seed locked down. If they want the two seed, they would be advised to win all of them, though if Davidson wins out, simply winning two would be enough.

How are the Mocs going to respond to this? I'm not sure, but Will Wade pulled a lot of players late and let some of the subs play. They played hard and Wade seemed to be using them to teach a lesson to his starters. I think the Mocs could come out and play a tremendous game  against UNCG on Sunday. Then again, the Mocs have looked less than good in recent games.

This is the time to get going again for the Mocs. Now is the time. We'll see how the team responds on Sunday.


SoCon Thursday Review

Georgia Southern 77, Chattanooga 61

Key Stat: Mocs 55.6% from the free throw line. Nothing showed the Mocs lack of focus in this one like their free throw shooting, including some key misses by Rico White while the Mocs were trying to come back. That was an awful performance from the free throw line.

Player of the Game: Jelani Hewitt. Early on, the Eagles were ice cold from long range. Then, suddenly, they got hot. Hewitt made 6 of 11 from long range on the game and scored 24 points. His shooting from three point range was a major turning point in the game.

What It All Means: For the Eagles, Georgia Southern desperately need a win to get into the right position for the six through nine seed. They got it. It was a tremendous performance. They have been so close to knocking out one of the big boys in the SoCon and they finally did it. This is a team that can be really dangerous in Asheville because they have such talented players like Jelani Hewitt and Tre Bussey. This is a team no one will want to see in the quarterfinals. For the Mocs, that was a disaster. Up nine late in the first half, the Mocs just collapsed and didn't seem to be able to get it back. Will Wade was hopping mad during the game, so it will be interesting to see if the Mocs respond to that by really playing well on Sunday at UNCG or not. They need to, because suddenly, that two or three seed is very much in doubt for the first time in a while. They still own the tiebreaker edge over everyone, but they are tied with Wofford and Elon and ahead of Western Carolina by just one game. This team looks like they may be collapsing a bit.

Western Carolina 74, Appalachian State 61

Key Stat: Mountaineers 48.5% from the free throw line. It was a night to shoot free throws poorly if you lost in the SoCon. The Mountaineers made just 16 of 33 free throws. Ouch. It was so bad, only Tevin Baskin at 5 of 9 and Tab Hamilton at 2 of 2 made more than 50% from the free throw line.

Player of the Game: Trey Sumler. Sumler only scored 14 on 3 of 7 shooting from the floor. But he did all the little things for the Catamounts to get the win. He shot 8 of 8 from the free throw line. He had six assists and five steals. That was an all around solid performance.

What It All Means: Welcome back Western Carolina! The Catamounts can officially say that they are not playing bad anymore. Are they playing well? Not exactly. But they are playing better. Trey Sumler looks like he has turned into a real team leader that doesn't have to score to play good basketball anymore. The Catamounts are back in the race for the two seed and it is time to keep on going. They are getting hot at the right time. The Mountaineers continue to fight and continue to show reasons to believe, but this was the worst they have played in a while. This was unfortunate. Tommy Spagnolo played well, but they need to play better on the whole. They need to make some free throws too. They will be a tough out in Asheville. I still believe that.

Wofford 70, Furman 50

Key Stat: Terriers 56.7 eFG%. The Terriers were red hot from the floor...again. They made 50% from the floor on the game and 53.8% from three point range. I'll say it again, the Terriers keep on improving offensively and that's what makes them so dangerous in Asheville.

Player of the Game: Karl Cochran. Cochran scored 23 points and had five assists and even two blocks. He shot 9 of 14 from the floor. He also made 5 of 7 from the line. Cochran has turned into truly a top SoCon player.

What It All Means: The Paladins just do not match up with Wofford. Plain and simple. They've been playing reasonably well, except for when they play Wofford. I think Furman is a dangerous team in Asheville, and I still believe that. They need to avoid the Terriers, but other than that, I think the Paladins could be a pleasant surprise in Asheville. The Terriers stayed hot. But now comes the true test. They have just beaten one team with a bye at this point. Now they play at Davidson and at Elon in their next two games. That will be the real test for how far this team has come. They are in prime position to get the two seed at this point. The defense played great tonight. The offense has been playing so well. If they can beat Davidson, hello SoCon favorite.