Sunday, February 1, 2015

Scanning the SoCon- Week Four

This is the fourth season of Scanning the SoCon, and hopefully we are getting bigger and better every year. People from around the conference answer questions regarding their team and other issues around the SoCon. Now that the Super Bowl is over, it’s time to start paying closer attention to college basketball. This should help you to know everything you need to know about SoCon basketball.


UNCG at VMI, 8:00 (American Sports Network)

Mercer at The Citadel, 6:00
Wofford at ETSU, 7:00
Chattanooga at Furman, 7:00
Samford at Western Carolina, 7:00

UNCG at The Citadel, 1:00
Wofford at VMI, 1:00
Samford at ETSU, 4:00
Mercer at Furman, 4:00
Chattanooga at Western Carolina, 4:30


1)      Wofford 70 (7)
2)      Chattanooga 60
3)      Mercer 58
4)      ETSU 47
5)      Western Carolina 33
6)      Furman 31
7)      VMI 27
8)      Samford 22
9)      The Citadel 16
10)  UNCG 10


James Sinclair, Western Carolina- 3 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Lee Skinner, Wofford (2 votes), Stephen Croone, Furman (1), Casey Jones, Chattanooga (1)


Wofford at ETSU- 5 votes

Others Receiving Votes- Chattanooga at Western Carolina (2 votes)


Sum up your team.

Chattanooga- The Mocs are currently second in the SoCon and are 8-2 overall. The team is much improved from last year, when the tempo had to be controlled and if Z Mason did not play well, the Mocs could not win. This year, the Mocs can win all sorts of different ways and don’t really on any one player. The Mocs are clearly one of the three best teams in the SoCon at this point, along with Mercer and Wofford. They struggled defensively in their last two games and need to answer those questions as the season progresses from here.

Furman- The Paladins went 2-1 on the week, with an impressive win over ETSU (59-55) preceded by an 82-46 win over NAIA member Allen University. The Paladins had their modest winning streak ended by red-hot Samford, who claimed a 68-58 win over the Paladins at the Pete Hanna Center on Saturday night. Stephen Croone made it 48 out of 50 games in double figures by scoring 20 or more points in all three games this week, including 28 points in the losing effort to Samford this past Saturday night. The most impressive aspect of the Paladins this week has been how they have stepped up play on the defensive end of the floor, holding ETSU to a season-low 55 points and then holding Samford to just 39.3% shooting from the field in the losing effort. In the past two games, the Paladins have held opponents to a combined 8-of-34 from three-point land.

VMI-VMI had only one game this week, due to Saturday's Breakout. For those that don't know, "Breakout" is a week-long event in which the Rat Class (VMI freshmen) endure a grueling week of physical and team-building activities leading up to Saturday, where all Rats became official members of the Class of 2018. It is sort of like a formal "welcome" into the VMI community, and, being one of the most difficult tests that any college student can possibly endure, I'd like to congratulate VMI freshman Fred Iruafemi and Armani Branch, as well as the entire Rat Mass, on successfully completing Breakout. Well done, gentlemen. Now back to basketball. The one game VMI did play this week was at home against Western Carolina, a game I had the "privilege" of watching in person. It was a game of runs, with the Catamounts going on spurts of 16-5 early in the first, 15-0 early in the second, and 16-2 to end the game. VMI did a great job of coming back from 18 down to cut the deficit to one late, but we should've never been in that position in the first place. WCU's guards and forwards were simply too athletic for us to handle, and our shooting was awful: 12 of 47 from three. The stat of the game: WCU nearly doubles up VMI on the boards, 57-29, and gets 40 points in the paint. We allowed James Sinclair to score 28 points on 11 of 21 shooting. It was a very disappointing way to end a winnable game. A theoretical must-win matchup with UNC Greensboro looms Tuesday on the American Sports Network.

Western Carolina- The Cats are coming off a week where they picked up conference road win #1 and #2.  The Cats beat VMI on Thursday and UNCG on Saturday to up their conference record to 6-5, good enough to be in a tie for 4th place with ETSU.  Prior to this week, the Cats had dropped 4 conference road games, and are now 2-4 in SoCon games played on the road. Of the 7 conference games remaining on the schedule, only 3 are road games.  
Wes Miller (UNCG) and Will Wade (Chattanooga) had an exchange in the handshake line after the game. Should the exchange have taken place in a more private setting? How upset should Miller be by a comment made to a Mocs alumni group prior to the game (if that was in fact the reason for the exchange)?

Chattanooga- Regardless of what Miller was upset about, I believe this exchange should have taken place in a private setting. There is no reason for this kind of exchange to happen in the hand shake line after the game. There is a time and a place to deal with this and the postgame line is probably not it. If Miller was truly upset about a comment made to an alumni group, he needs to get over it. Things like that happen all the time. Anyone ever heard of Steve Spurrier? Lane Kiffin? I’m not saying that those guys are popular, but you say things to get your alumni groups fired up for the team. Things get said. Everyone needs to get over it. That being said, if there is more to the story, and there well could be, then I am not going to say that Miller has no right to be upset. I do not necessarily know the full story. If there are other things, my opinion may be different.

Furman- I think it's less of a thing. Earlier this year, that happened with Niko Medved and Scott Padgett, but both coaches seemed cordial last night, so I think it's just the emotion of the game and competitiveness, and in that sense, I don't have a big problem with that as long as the bad blood doesn't fester. I don't think it will having seen both Wade and Miller in action, I think they are two coaches that just want to to win and that was all there was to it. I don't think the league should step in here.

UNCG- As a UNCG fan and alumni, I was pretty disappointed at the whole thing. Miller is representing the university as a whole and it looks pretty unsportsmanlike to throw a fit after a close loss. If the rumors are true about the reasons behind it, make a phone call or chat in the hallway. Better yet, beat the Mocs and yell scoreboard.
VMI- First, this was disappointing to see from a SoCon coach in Wes Miller. Although it might be entertaining for the fans, you really can't have coaches quibbling with each other in the handshake line. It brings down the level of respect for the coach, the school, and to some extent the league. If Miller, as rumored, was upset with a comment made by a Moc assistant to a group of alumni, why not talk it up with the assistant? Why take it out on the head coach? And if the comment was so crass, why couldn't Miller take it up with Wade after the game, in a private setting? Perhaps he did. We'll never know. But it seems to me that barking at a coach after a clean, well-played game does nothing other than make a fool of yourself. Interestingly, the ESPN3 announcer after the game noted that Wade and Miller are the two youngest coaches in the league - that says a lot about why this fiasco might have happened, doesn't it?

Western Carolina- I understand the heat of battle, and how fans can get worked up during a game.  However, this was an exchange that had no business taking place in public. Miller is a young coach, and will hopefully mature.
Murry Bartow (ETSU) pushed a Wofford player last Saturday night. There was a free throw going being shot on end of the floor and Bartow had one of his players close to him to talk to him and the Wofford player followed him to the huddle. Bartow pushed him away, Mike Young and Bartow got into a shouting match and both were assessed technical fouls. First of all, should the Wofford player have been following the ETSU player during that situation? Should Bartow have been allowed to push him away? The commissioner has spoken to both coaches and nothing more will come of it. Should the commissioner have further punished one or both coaches?

Chattanooga- It is obviously an unwritten rule that players should not follow you into the huddle. During a free throw on, there is no chance ETSU is going to score, so he should have been left alone. Stand in the backcourt, close enough to him that he is not open for a long pass, but not close enough to be in the huddle. It is common sense, and not ridiculous to expect that. Still, Bartow can not push him away. That is clearly against the rules. The commissioner should have suspended Bartow for at least one game for the incident. You simply can not act in that way and get away with it.

Furman- think it's a bit more serious than that...You can't have a coach grabbing another player. Murry Bartow might have had a point, but I don't think it Spencer Collin's intention to break up the conversation between Bartow and his player, however, whether or not it was something Collins should have done or should not have done does not matter because Collins had every right to be where he was even if it made coach Bartow angry. Bartow added fuel to the fire in the post-game presser, calling Wofford's alleged tactics "An old Mercer trick." It might have been an "old Mercer trick" but that should have been handled with a bit more tact and class from Bartow, but again I understand there is much emotion involved here in the heat of battle. I think the conference should get involved anytime there is a conflict between an opposing player and coach, or there is some sort of physical contact. But, the league reviewed it and I think all is well that ends well, and there seems to be not too much fallout from it, so no harm done I guess and just make sure it doesn't happen again. Maybe at season's end, the time to review this will be better, allowing more time to come up with a consensus decision among conference officials to effectively be prepared for something like this in case it happens again. ..But overall, I think it was handled the right way so long as it doesn't happen again.

VMI- Although I haven't see video of the incident, it seems to me this is one of those instances where a chain reaction of questionable decisions sets off a fight. First, Collins should not have been in Bartow's ear when he was giving instructions to Rashawn Rembert. Although not technically illegal, this is an incredibly display of gamesmanship and very dubious on the part of Collins. Then, of course, Bartow, who feels the same way as I, nudged Collins off to the side. Was it just a nudge, a tap, or a flat-out push? I didn't see the video to know. But it clearly couldn't have been that malicious, given that Bartow would have been ejected if it were. I can certainly see why Mike Young would be enraged at this; he has to stick up for his players and probably doesn't think a coach should be laying his hands on them. All in all, this was just an unfortunate situation where both coaches did what they thought was necessary. I put no blame on anyone, other than maybe Collins who shouldn't have been over there in the first place. There's no need for the commissioner to get involved, either. Bartow and Young are great friends, shook hands after the game, and wish to proceed with their team's season.

Western Carolina- No, but a coach should never touch an opposing player.  A simple request for the other player to leave the area would have probably done the trick. There should have been some negative consequences for the ETSU coach.  
In honor of the Super Bowl, if a 7 on 7 flag football game broke out between all the SoCon schools, which one do you think would win?

Chattanooga- In flag football, a few big guys are good, but you need speed. I would want a team with a lot of speed. ETSU with their offense? VMI up and down, used to pressure? Mercer, with Phillip Leonard, who seems like he would be a great quarterback? I suppose I will take Furman, because I think Croone’s speed would give everyone else trouble and they have just enough big men (Ferrara and Acox) to possibly trip up some other teams along the way.

Furman- Furman would easily have the goods in this type of competition. Sibley and Croone are speed merchants, and I am not sure there are any two guards quicker and faster collectively than these two. Croone can fly...I would like to know his 40 time!

VMI- VMI would win this one, for sure. This football season the Keydets seemed to be great at not tackling people, so I'm sure we'd thrive in a sport where that practice is forbidden.

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