Sunday, January 11, 2015

Scanning the SoCon 2015- Week One

After a hiatus from my blog (when DashSpartan was kind of to take over and post over on, Scanning the SoCon is back with the very first edition of the SoCon conference portion of the schedule. This should continue every week leading into the SoCon Tournament. Be sure to check it out.


VMI at UNCG (SoConDigitalNetwork)

Wofford at The Citadel (SoCon Digital Network)
ETSU at Western Carolina (SoCon Digital Network)
Furman at Mercer (ESPN3)
Chattanooga at Samford (SoConDigitalNetwork)
ETSU at VMI (SoConDigitalNetwork)
Furman at The Citadel (SoConDigitalNetwork)
Samford at Mercer (ESPN3)
Western Carolina at Wofford (SoConDigitalNetwork)


1)      Wofford- 80 points (8 votes)
2)      Chattanooga- 70.5
3)      ETSU- 62
4)      Mercer- 59.5
5)      Western Carolina- 48
6)      VMI- 35
7)      The Citadel- 30
8)      Furman- 28
9)      UNCG- 15
10)  Samford- 12


Karl Cochran, Wofford- 4 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Casey Jones (Chattanooga)- 2 votes, QJ Peterson (VMI)- 1, Mike Brown (Western Carolina)- 1


ETSU at Western Carolina- 3.5 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Western Carolina at Wofford- 1 vote, Furman at Mercer- 1, ETSU at VMI- 1, Wofford at The Citadel- 1, Furman at The Citadel- .5


Sum up your team.

Chattanooga- The Mocs played three teams that are a combined 11-4 in SoCon play this week and went 2-1 in those games, and really, in a lot of ways, the Mocs should have gone 3-0, because they were ahead by 14 in the second half against Wofford on Monday night. While Monday night’s loss was very disappointing, Saturday’s overtime win over ETSU was equally electrifying. The Mocs led for much of that game, but nearly blew it at the end. Justin Tuoyo needs to do a better job against double teams, but Casey Jones is a tremendous asset. Greg Pryor is the player that controls the offense. The last two games, Pryor has been injured, and the offense has not looked quite right in those games. If Pryor comes back this week, like expected, there should be a major jump in offensive productivity.

Furman- --Had a bit of a tough run this week with losses at UTC and WCU, but then again, those are two of tougher places to play in the league...Furman responded very nicely on Thursday with a come-from-behind win over UNCG and while Stephen Croone didn't score but 10 points, he in so valuable from what he does defensively and overall hustle...His three with 4:09 to play was the clincher...And Devin Sibley's 21 points--all in the second half--were impressive....He's going to be a good one...In many ways, this Furman team is the carbon copy of Wofford two years ago...Croone is Cochran and Sibley is Furman's Collins...Don't know if it will end up the way it has for Wofford, but certainly the type skill-set each in the starting five for both are comparable I think...Huge game coming up against VMI...Furman is continuing to gain confidence, but has to learn to win on the road!

VMI- Overall it was a disappointing week for VMI, but luckily we ended on a very positive note. In our first SoCon home game since returning to the league, the Mercer Bears whipped us in the second half after a mostly even first period. Four of Mercer's five starters scored in double figures, including Phillip Leonard, who had 21 points, and Darious Moten, who netted another 21 and grabbed six rebounds. QJ Peterson had 31 points in the loss. The team then traveled to Spartanburg for a matchup with the now-sluggish Wofford Terriers, who haven't found their scoring touch. Despite holding a two-point lead with under two minutes to go, Wofford made the plays it takes to win and escaped with a 75-70 victory in which neither team lead by more than 7 points. Free throw shooting killed the Keydets down the stretch, and overall the three-point shooting was the deciding factor: 4 of 22, 18%. Phillip Anglade had a career night, shooting 11 of 13 for 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Keydets rebounded on Saturday for a 83-73 win over Furman. Julian Eleby had 11 points off the bench, and Tim Marshall netted 18 on 4 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc. It was a much needed win for the Keydets who are nearly done with their road-heavy early league schedule.

Western Carolina- The Cats won two, lost one.  The Cats easily handled both Furman and UNCG at home, but was not so lucky against Chattanooga, losing to the Mocs by 6 points, in a place that seems to be winnable for the Catamounts.  The Cats have an even tougher road this week with ETSU and Wofford on the schedule.

What one player is most indispensable to his team?

Chattanooga- With James Sinclair out for the year and with Tevon Saddler sitting out due to injury for a while, not to mention Greg Pryor being out, and Eric Garcia and Lee Skinner being limited due to injury and illness, this question seems particularly pertinent. That being said, it is probably Stephen Croone for Furman. If Croone got injured, the Paladins would lack any consistent offensive weapons. Yes, Geoff Beans, Kris Acox and Kendrec Ferrara all can perform, but all have been wildly inconsistent. That makes Croone all the more valuable.

Furman- Though Furman survived without him for a while Thursday night in foul trouble, it is apparent to me, that Furman wouldn't have won that game last night if it weren't for Croone diving on the floor to get loose balls, or running down Saddler from behind getting a steal and passing up the floor to Daniel Fowler for a layup....He's just indispensable...He gives so much heart and kind of reminds me of Allen Iverson in that respect.

VMI- VMI is a bit of an oddity this year. We haven't had one go-to contributor that's been there every night, and for that reason we are 6-11. A lack of leadership has also hurt, as well as the lack of a true point guard. But the most indispensable player on our squad has to be none other than QJ Peterson, and it should be pretty obvious as to why. Thus far QJ is averaging 20.2 PPG, slightly over 5 RPG and 4.1 APG. He also became the fastest player in VMI history to score 1,000 points, and if he continues his current pace he will score over 2,400 points. A makeshift one-guard, QJ has stepped up to the challenge of switching roles late in the offseason and for that he should be admired. The play of other players has simply been too inconsistent or nonexistent to surpass QJ's scoring excellence.

Western Carolina- James Sinclair.  Guess what, we lost him.  It's a disaster to lose one of your two seniors, your leading scorer, averaging 17+ points per game.  Guess we'll see what happens when a team loses it's mot Indispensable player.

The Terriers have an RPI of 32 per Can they earn an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament?

Chattanooga- The Terriers can probably afford just a loss in one of two places prior to the SoCon Championship Game to have any chance at all of getting an at large bid. That loss would have to come at Mercer or at ETSU. I do not think they can afford a loss at home, and no other team in the conference is good enough for the Terriers to lose to on the road and survive. But I do think if Wofford loses once and then in the SoCon Championship Game, they would be 28-6, and have a very real chance at an at large. In fact, I ran RPI Wizard on and predicted a win against everyone but a loss to Mercer on the road and then beating Samford and ETSU in the SoCon Tournament before falling to either Mercer or Chattanooga in the title game. The RPI result predicts an RPI of 40. If that is accurate, they will be square on the bubble, but fall on the wrong side. If they win out until the SoCon Championship Game and come up short, I think they will be on the bubble, but quite possibly on the right side of that bubble.

Furman- Wofford has an impressive RPI due to their incredibly tough non-conference play, unfortunately, it will drop when playing some of the lower-tier SoCon teams...Still, it is a very real possibility the Terriers could get an at-large, but I have seen some good Davidson teams denied by the NCAA Tournament, namely the 1996 team which lost in the title to WCU, denied acceptance into the NCAA Tournament...I think they were a Top 40 RPI team that season....So hopefully the league has garnered a little more respect in the past two decades should Wofford finish in the 40-50 RPI range and not win the SoCon Tournament

The Citadel- I don't think Wofford can get an at-large bid. Once it plays the full SoCon schedule, Wofford's RPI will probably drop into the 60-80 range even if it were to run the table. The Terriers will likely finish with just one Top-100 victory (possibly two, depending on how Iona finishes the season). Playing two non-D1 opponents won't help Wofford much either.

VMI- This is a tricky question. First, if the season ended right now and there were no SoCon Tournament, you'd definitely have to give Wofford an at-large bid. According to, the Terriers currently have an RPI ranked 30th in the country, better than the likes of Georgetown, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. But even if the Terriers keep up their winning ways, their RPI and strength of schedule (which is currently 95th in the nation) would inevitable take a massive hit. There are simply too many bottom-tier teams in this league for the RPI to stay at such absurd levels. Wofford has played two ranked teams in West Va. and Duke, but by tournament time their SOS should even out, playing UNCG, The Citadel, and Furman twice. If they do win out (which would also have to include two SoCon victories and a championship game loss, as the scenario suggests), they would have a record of 29-5. Impressive, but how much of a hit will their SOS take, thereby negatively effecting RPI? I would say it would be too much of a hit to keep the Terriers within the top-60 RPI range, far too high for a mid-major looking for an at-large bid.

Western Carolina- No, the SoCon is still a one bid league, with the RPI in the middle 20s. By the end of the season, even if the Terriers win out, their RPI will be much different than it is today.

Wofford- This question came up in a conversation I was having prior to the Terriers' league opener. As a Wofford fan, I wouldn't be too optimistic about this prospect--it's a matter of what happens the rest of the way. If the Terriers were to continue their current habit of showing up late and pulling off a victory, they have some chance of finishing the conference schedule undefeated. (Still unlikely, but you can't predict SoCon basketball.) That would put them at 27-4, a mark largely unheard of over here. Then, let's say they cruise to the final in Asheville, and are stunned there by a couple points. Of course, I would be indignant at such a prospect, but I'm not a member of the selection committee. Other than the league work, we have a couple of good non-conference wins (Iona, N.C. State), but I'm not sure if it's enough for these guys. It would all depend on the committee's mindset. Sure, there's a chance, but I wouldn't put my money on it. I hope the Terriers just keep their focus on the next game and keep going.

What has been the most surprising result so far in the SoCon?

Chattanooga- When UNCG beat ETSU in Johnson City, that definitely sent shockwaves around the conference. The Spartans were not expected to be contenders in the SoCon and ETSU was, so for them to go on the road and win was stunning. It called into question if ETSU could contend in the SoCon this year, while it also made everyone wonder if with Diante Baldwin back from injury, UNCG was a true title contender. As it has played out, the answers are that ETSU is a contender and UNCG is not. The Spartans played over their head in that game and came up with the upset. That result was stunning at the time. Amazingly, it is even more shocking in retrospect.

Furman- The Citadel is playing like coach Chuck Driesell's job depends on it and it might...Ashton Moore has been incredible so far, and it's good to see the Bulldogs in the middle of the SoCon pack right now. The Bulldogs should really have beaten cross-town rival CofC earlier this season!...I think one of the most surprising results in the league were UNCG over ETSU 80-79 and The Citadel's win at UNCG

VMI- I think the play of UNC Greensboro has been a surprising disappointment. This is a team with three potential All-SoCon First and Second Team players in Tevon Saddler, RJ White, and Kayel Locke that has laid an egg so far this season. The offense has been mediocre, surprising given that they have five players averaging double-figures. It's their defense that has been so bad, giving up 73.8 PPG (329th in the country) and have gotten only 21.6 rebounds per contest (308th). With Saddler and White leading the team I thought they would contend for a top-five spot, but their bad bench has hindered them. It's never too late to see them turn it around though.

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