Monday, November 17, 2014

Scanning the SoCon Week Two

Each week, a blogger/fan from each SoCon school participates in a set of polls and questions from around the conference. This is our fourth year of doing this, and hopefully, the most enjoyable year yet.
Western Carolina at Alabama, 9:00 (SEC Network) (CBE Hall of Fame Classic)
Iona at Wofford, 7:00 AM (ESPN2)
UNC-Wilmington at UNCG, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Johnson C. Smith at VMI, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Virginia Wise at ETSU, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Chattanooga at Butler, 9:00 (FoxSports2) (Battle 4 Atlantis)
Toccoa Falls at The Citadel, 6:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Appalachian State at Furman, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Kennesaw State at Mercer, 7:00 (ESPN3)
Austin Peay at Samford, 8:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Longwood vs. UNCG in Ypsilanti, Michigan, 4:30 (EMU Showcase)
Hiwassee at Western Carolina, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Wofford at Fairfield, 7:00
Cal State-Northridge vs. Samford in Little Rock, Arkansas, 2:00 (Maui on the Mainland)
South Dakota vs. Wofford in Fairfield, Connecticut, 5:00
Bob Jones at The Citadel, 6:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
UNCG at Eastern Michigan, 7:00 (EMU Showcase)
UNC-Wilmington at VMI, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
UNC-Asheville at ETSU, 7:00 (SoCon Digital Network)
Chattanooga at Tennessee Tech, 7:00
UC-Davis at Furman, 7:30 (SoCon Digital Network)
TBA vs. Samford in Litte Rock, Arkansas, TBA (Maui on the Mainland)
Youngstown State vs. UNCG in Ypsilanti, Michigan, 12:00
Sam Houston State vs. Wofford in Fairfield, Connecticut, 12:00
Mercer at Colorado State, 6:00 (CBS Sports Network)
  1. Wofford 74 (7)
  2. Chattanooga 70 (1)
  3. ETSU 59
  4. Mercer 54
  5. VMI 51
  6. Western Carolina 50
  7. UNCG 33
  8. Furman 19
  9. The Citadel 16
  10. Samford 14
QJ Peterson, VMI- 5 votes
Others Receiving Votes: Jalen Riley, ETSU (2 votes), Ikw Iwamu, Mercer (1 vote)
Iona at Wofford- 3 votes
Others Receiving Votes- Appalachian State at Furman (2 votes), Kennesaw State at Mercer (1 vote), Chattanooga at Butler (1 vote), UNC-Wilmington at UNCG (1 vote)
Sum up your team.
ETSU- It was a rough start for the Bucs on the road against Valpo, but not an entirely unexpected one. Some rough periods are likely as we look for front court answers. Right now 6’6”, 250 pound Ron Giplaye is the most promising- he only got 13 minutes but produced as a decent rate with six points and five rebounds (would have been a double-double if he played 26 minutes). We’ll know a lot more in about four weeks.
Furman- Furman looked very lost in its opener against College of Charleston, and it was tough treading without starters Stephen Croone, Geoff Beans and Aaron O’Neill sidelined due to injury or suspension. I think once this young team gets comfortable with one another, they will be pretty good, but it’s going to be a long process.
VMI- VMI began the first round of the Military Classic on Friday with a thrilling win over The Citadel. Down by two with under twenty seconds to play, sophomore forward Trey Chapman nailed a three-pointer and the defense made a final stop to beat the Bulldogs, 66-65. Although the win was thrilling, it definitely should not have been that close. On Saturday against Army, we played better and certainly had our chances to win. After taking a one-point lead into halftime, Army went on a 19-4 run to go up by 14. The Keydets combated that with a 20-2 run of their own, and went up by as many as six points with three minutes to play. Unfortunately, the Black Knights valued each possession more and held us to three points the rest of the way to claim a 92-86 victory and win the fourth and final All-Military Classic. It was terribly disappointing, but we have an opportunity to get back on track with a win over DIII Johnson University this Tuesday.
Western Carolina- Western Carolina payed a visit to Mississippi State on Friday with a realistic shot to pick up a win over the SEC school in the season opener for both teams.  In the first half, even though the Bulldogs shot 52%, thanks to 12 turnovers by MSU, and 5 for 10 three point shooting, the Cats went to the locker room down only one point, 31-30. However, the undersized Cats could not contain the inside game in the second half, sending the Bulldogs to the charity strip for 37 attempts, making 28 points from the free throw line.  The final score was 56-66, with senior James Sinclair leading all scorers with 20 points and Rhett Harrelson adding 14. 
What team surprised you (either positively or negatively) this weekend?
Furman- I had a chance to watch most of the Wofford-Stanford game and I was a little disappointed that the Terriers didn’t make more of a game of it with the Stanford Cardinal after playing pretty well for three quarters of the opening half of play. In the end, Stanford proved that teams that are physical will have a shot against the Terriers this season. But I still think Wofford is an elite team and the team to beat in the SoCon this season.
VMI- QJ Peterson's torrid start to the season (22 PPG) did not surprise me at all. I was surprised with the play of sophomore guard Julian Eleby, who in the game against Army recorded a career-high 20 points along with four rebounds. As a team, our rebounding was excellent given our complete lack of height, but defensively opponents are shooting well above 50% against us. That needs to change. I was also disappointed with the play of senior guard Brian Brown, who scored only 6 points against Army, going 0 for 4 from long-range. We need some guys to step up.
Western Carolina- I'd say VMI is my surprise team.  While the Keydets went 1-1 in the All-Military Classic, I didn't see the scoring I'd expected from this team. 66 points against the Citadel and 86 versus Army is not quite the scoring machine I was expecting from VMI.
Wofford plays Iona on ESPN2 at 7 AM in the 24 Hour Tip Off Marathon. What do you think of playing at that time?
Chattanooga- I love it. It’s brilliant. The students can get up and go to the game in a pajama party and if the school pulls it off properly, I think it really is smart. It’s a sign that you have a solid program for the smaller schools, because they only pick the top notch teams to be in this. It is a sign of respect and I think it’s great. What will I be doing during the overnight games? Catching a little shut eye while watching as much basketball as I can. This 24 hour marathon is great and with Wofford in it, it only makes it that much more exciting to me.
Furman- I don’t have a problem with Wofford playing at this time. It’s a really intriguing clash between two mid-major programs that have done well over the past few seasons. If fans show up, they can play whenever. But that might be a problem because of work for most people. However, it’s a chance to grab the ESPN spotlight and that’s important for the SoCon and for Wofford no matter what time the game is.
VMI-I absolutely despise it. Who on earth is going to watch a college basketball game at 7 in the morning, let alone on a Tuesday? People have to go to work. Kids have to go to school. I would feel incredibly frustrated if I were a Wofford fan. It's even worse for High Point; they play at Hawaii at 5 o'clock in the morning (and that's midnight local time). All in all, this 24 Hour Marathon is a radical idea. I would think it has a detrimental effect on the players (they should miss most or all of the school day) as well as the coaches and staff. Not a fan to say the least.
Western Carolina- I think I'd have taken a pass on playing in the Tip Off Marathon. I don't think any meek publicity the team gained from playing in the marathon at 7 am, would be with the disruption in the teams normal schedule that an early morning game would create.  
What are your reactions to the SoCon Digital Network so far?
Furman- The SoCon Digital Network is a huge plus because you get to see any game most any time and that’s important to know how the league stacks up this season, and it is especially helpful during the non-conference portion of the slate.
UNCG- I love it. It's been a long time coming too. The Socon has definitely been behind other conferences in getting it up and running. I will say that I've enjoyed watching all of the sports on it this fall. Now hopefully everyone will join Mercer in getting up to ESPN3 compatible. 
VMI-From a design standpoint, the SoCon Digital Network is excellent. The layout is aesthetically pleasing and it's incredibly easy to navigate. My only concern is with poor camera work at many of the schools that I have watched video on. This may an issue with the schools' broadcast teams themselves, but I'd like to see it fixed. The video feed is about a minute or so delayed, which is a bit frustrating, but other than that it is a decent network. What I'd really like to see now is a universal on-screen scoreboard that the SoCon should implement on all broadcasts. It is again frustrating to have to follow the live stats when certain schools don't have a scoreboard installed on the video feed.
Western Carolina- In my opinion, this is the best thing that's happened in the Southern Conference that I can remember.  Giving the average fan free access to all home football, basketball, etc. games will pay huge dividends for the conference and each individual team in the long run. The SDN will give the conference exposure like we've never had in the past.  As the public learns about the ability to see games for free, this asset will only grow in scope.

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