Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spartans Outlast Hatters on Final Day in Florida

UNCG 75 - Stetson 68

UNCG Athletics
Stetson Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 36 - Stetson 34

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (21)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (11)
Leader Assists: Potts (5)
Team FG: 24-51 (47.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-15 (46.7%)
Team FT: 20-25 (80.0%)
Rebounds: 33
Turnovers: 15

Stetson Stats
Leader Points: Andrews (16)
Leader Rebounds: Smith (9)
Leader Andrews (7)
Team FG: 22-53 (41.5%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-14 (35.7%)
Team FT: 19-23 (82.6%)

For the second straight day, UNCG came out completely flat. Stetson jumped out to a 14-5 lead. But unlike Tuesday, the Spartans recovered and went to the locker room with a 36-34 lead, The second half saw the lead seesaw back and forth until two late defensive stands by UNCG coupled with making 5-6 free throws allowed the Spartans to leave Florida with a win.

There were a lot of things to like about this game. I thought Tyrone Outlaw and Kyle Cain really carried the team and Jordan Potts continues to shoot the ball with confidence. It was good to see Nicholas Paulos start to make some shots. It was always a matter of time before his shots started to fall, but he made 2 straight at a very important time in the game.

UNCG still had some of the same issues as Tuesday. The team still struggled to put together stretches of good offensive and defensive possessions. There were still way too many turnovers. However, it is still a win. Now the guys can take off Thanksgiving and come back ready to go against Presbyterian at home next week.

Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spartans Start Slow, Fall to San Diego

UNCG 71 - San Diego 83

UNCG Athletics
San Diego Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 38 - San Diego 45

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (21)
Leader Rebounds: Cain, White (Tied - 5)
Leader Assists: Cain, Potts (Tied - 3)
Team FG: 26-54 (48.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-22 (31.8%)
Team FT: 12-16 (75.0%)
Rebounds: 27
Turnovers: 13

San Diego Stats
Leader Points: Sanadze (20)
Leader Rebounds: Kramer (7)
Leader Assists: Anderson (5)
Team FG: 28-52 (53.8%)
Team 3 Pt: 4-14 (28.6%)
Leader FT: 23-31 (74.2%)
Rebounds: 31
Turnovers: 7

The Spartans came out for the noon tip time lethargic and they were quickly in a 13-2 hole after just 4 minutes. From there, UNCG played well in spurts. However, that first few minutes sealed their fate. This team has looked like a young club this week in Florida.

UNCG got themselves back into the game and had several chances in both halves to take the lead. It seemed like every time that they got within a possession, there would be a bad shot, a turnover or a missed assignment on defense. Also, the Toreros came up with some big offensive rebounds at tough times.

In order for UNCG to win games, they are going to have to bring effort for a full 40 minutes and do all of the little things right. Today's contest was a glaring example of that exact statement. Tomorrow the Spartans will face Stetson at noon. I'll be interested to see if UNCG has learned from today. Go Spartans !!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bulldogs Destroy Spartans

UNCG 62 - La Tech 99

UNCG Athletics
La Tech Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 33 - La Tech 48

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Jordan Potts (13)
Leader Rebounds: Saddler (5)
Leader Assists: Saddler, Parker, Paulos (Tied - 2)
Team FG: 21-54 (38.9%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-19 (36.8%)
Team FT: 13-20 (65.0%)
Rebounds: 23
Turnovers: 19

La Tech Stats
Leader Points: Hamilton (26)
Leader Rebounds: Kyser (6)
Leader Assists: Appleby (7)
Team FG: 36-57 (63.2%)
Team 3 Pt: 14-25 (56.0%)
Team FT: 13-16 (81.3%)
Rebounds: 36
Turnovers: 18

Well, that was certainly unpleasant to watch as a Spartan fan. UNCG as buried under a mountain of turnovers and Bulldog 3 pointers. In the second half alone, La Tech missed 8 shots total and only 3 from inside the arc. They made 14 shots behind the arc including a 30 foot alley oop attempt that banked into the basket. That's just how the day went for both teams.

UNCG played a legitimate NCAA at large team and got obliterated. I thought we'd learn more about the team from these 3 days in Florida than in the the first 3 weeks of the season. Well, so far we've learned that the Spartans aren't quite ready to take that big jump up quite yet. Starting tomorrow at noon, we'll get to see if UNCG can rebound from a tough loss. San Diego represents another strong mid-major program and will pose a stern test.

Let's hope we see a solid response. Go Spartans !!!

Scanning the SoCon - Week #4

Scanning the SoCon - Week #4

Power Rankings
1. Elon
2. Western Carolina
3. Davidson
5. UTC
6. Furman
7. Citadel
8. Ga Southern
9. Samford
10. App State
11. Wofford

Game of the Week

Player of the Week
Trey Sumler

The SoCon has not been good. The RPI currently ranks at #33. Why is the SoCon so bad?
I honestly think the SoCon has been better than it appears. RPI and conference rankings are always a little bit screwy this early in the season. Use Davidson as an example ... lists their loss to Virginia as a "bad loss". Their win against Georgia (currently a 300+ team) is not a good one. By the end of the season, Virginia will be at least a top 40 team and Georgia will be in the top 150. I think when we look again later in the season, the numbers will be quite different. However, this league is going to have to win games against D1 competition. That's not happened frequently so far this season.

What your thoughts on exempt tournaments, both that allow winners to advance in true tournament fashion or like the Las Vegas Invitational with teams playing road games against the best teams and then a tournament against the lesser teams at a location, etc?
I wish that, like the MVC, the SoCon made every team in it's league participate in one of these per year. We all complain about the scheduling of our current teams. These exempt tournaments give our teams a chance to play multiple D1 teams. I know that sometimes these tournaments have predetermined brackets, and I think that's fine too. Those tournaments are trying to sell tickets and get their teams on TV. Selling match ups is what it's all about. As long as our teams get to play in winnable brackets of their own, it seems fine to me.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gulf Coast Showcase - Day 3

Wagner College (3-2)

Wagner Athletics

Wagner Stats
PPG: 73.7
RPG: 38.3
APG: 14.3
Leader Points: Latif Rivers (16.7)
Leader Rebounds: Orlando Parker (9.0)
Leader Assists: Kenneth Ortiz (5.7)
FG %: 41.0
3 Pt %: 31.3
FT %: 66.7

Stetson University (0-5)

Stetson Athletics

Stetson Stats
PPG: 57.8
RPG: 31.0
APG: 10.8
Leader Points: Aaron Graham (12.2)
Leader Rebounds: Brian Pegg (6.5)
Leader Assists: Kentwan Smith (2.4)
FG %: 40.5
3 Pt %: 30.7
FT %: 65.7

St Bonaventure University (3-1)

St Bonaventure Athletics

St Bonaventure Stats
PPG: 74.8
RPG: 41.5
APG: 14.3
Leader Points: Matthew Wright (15.3)
Leader Rebounds: Youssou Ndoye (9.0)
Leader Assists: Charlon Kloof (4.5)
FG %: 46.7
3 Pt %: 23.3
FT %: 70.1

Southern Illinois University (1-3)

Southern Illinois Athletics

Southern Illinois Stats
PPG: 65.3
RPG: 39.3
APG: 10.3
Leader Points: Desmar Jackson (21.3)
Leader Rebounds: Bronson Verhines (8.3)
Leader Assists: Marcus Fillyaw (2.0)
FG %: 42.5
3 PT %: 25.0
FT %: 61.5

Gulf Coast Showcase - Day 2

University of Illinois-Chicago (1-3)

UIC Athletics

UIC Stats
PPG: 67.5
RPG: 31.0
APG: 12.5
Leader Points: Marc Brown (18.0)
Leader Rebounds: Jordan Harks (5.3)
Leader Assists: Kelsey Barlow (5.5)
FG %: 42.2
3 Pt %: 37.5
FT %: 62.5

University of San Diego (5-0)

USD Athletics

San Diego Athletics
PPG: 70.3
RPG: 40.4
APG: 11.0
Leader Points: Johnny Dee (16.4)
Leader Rebounds: Dennis Kramer (6.6)
Leader Assists: Christopher Anderson (6.4)
FG %: 49.1
3 Pt %: 30.8
FT %: 66.0

Louisiana Tech (2-1) vs UNCG (3-1)

When: Monday, November 25 12:00 pm
Where: Germain Arena (7,000)

La Tech Athletics

Preseason Preview

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Greensboro College (W 92-62) Recap
PPG: 88.8
RPG: 46.5
APG: 17.5
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (19.3)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (8.5)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (4.8)
FG %: 53.3
3 Pt %: 41.7
FT %: 66.2

La Tech Stats
Last Game: @ Central Arkansas (W 94-57) Recap
PPG: 90.0
RPG: 42.0
APG: 18.0
Leader Points: Raheem Appleby (17.3)
Leader Rebounds: Michale Kyser (6.3)
Leader Assists: Alex Hamilton (6.0)
FG %: 49.2
3 Pt %: 28.6
FT %: 75.0

Thursday, November 21, 2013

4 Factors - Greensboro College

Points Per Possesion
UNCG - 1.15
Greensboro - 0.79

4 Factors

eFG %
UNCG - 64.6
Greensboro - 36.4

UNCG - 23.9
Greensboro - 14.0

OR %
UNCG - 21.4
Greensboro - 20.3

FT Rate
UNCG - 41.3
Greensboro - 17.5

Greensboro College Highlights

Spartans Surge Past Pride

UNCG 92 - Greensboro College 62

UNCG Athletics
Greensboro College Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 40 - Greensboro 32

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (23)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (14)
Leader Assists: Saddler, Parker (Tied - 6)
Team FG: 34-58 (58.6%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-14 (50.0%)
Team FT: 17-24 (70.8%)
Rebounds: 51
Turnovers: 19

Greensboro College Stats
Leader Points: Thomas (15)
Leader Rebounds: Martin, Griffin, Bates (Tied - 5)
Leader Assists: Griffin (4)
Team FG: 21-74 (28.4%)
Team 3 Pt: 12-39 (30.8%)
Team FT: 8-13 (61.5%)
Rebounds: 33
Turnovers: 11

The final score was lopsided. The game itself is a different story. UNCG played pretty solid defense all game long. But 13 first half turnovers allowed the Pride to stick around and only find themselves down 8 at the break. A 9-0 run out of the locker room cleared up any doubt about the outcome. The Spartans continued the trend of shooting the ball well (58.6%) and sharing the ball (23 assists on 34 made field goals). However, only one of UNCG's four primary ball handlers tallied less than 3 turnovers. That's something that will need to be corrected before the Florida trip. The team also came out flat. That's another trend that will need to be corrected.

On the bright side, Jordan Potts saw his first action and hit the ground running scoring 17 points (5-5 3 point shooting). Kyle Cain was an absolute beast notching 23 points and 14 rebounds in only 24 minutes of action. Freshmen Tevon Saddler (15 points, 5 rebounds & 6 assists) and Tyrone Outlaw (13 points) continued their hot starts to the season. Both have been in double figures in all 4 games. The Spartan offense has been very good in all four contests.

Now the real games start. Being 3-1 is a very good beginning for UNCG, but the road is only going to get more difficult. The trip to Florida should tell us a lot more about this team and the direction of the season. I still have high hopes regardless.

Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Greensboro College (2-1) @ UNCG (2-1)

When: Wednesday, November 20 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: None/Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

Greensboro College Athletics

Preseason Preview

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Chowan (W 97-58) Recap
PPG: 87.7
RPG: 45.0
APG: 15.7
Leader Points: Tevon Saddler (19.7)
Leader Rebounds: Tyrone Outlaw (7.7)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (4.3)
FG %: 51.5
3 Pt %: 39.1
FT %: 65.1

Greensboro College Stats
Last Game: Guilford College ( L 65-77) Recap
PPG: 71.1
RPG: 44.7
APG: 11.7
Leader Points: Damian Dixon (18.7)
Leader Rebounds: Damian Dixon (11.3)
Leader Assists: Will Griffin (2.7)
FG %: 34.3
3 Pt %: 21.3
FT %: 67.1

This is the last tune up for UNCG before things get a bit more stout. The Pride is another non-D1 opponent and a chance for UNCG to continue working through any chemistry issue and get valuable playing time for many of the new guys. After this game, the Spartans will travel to Florida to take on some seasoned mid-major teams (La Tech to start).

As for Greensboro College, they were picked 4th in the preseason of the D3 USA South Conference. The Pride fell to NC A&T by 27 in an exhibition game earlier this season. They are led by Damian Dixon, who was named second team All-State by the NCCSIA. Dixon (G 6'-1 210) is a stout scorer and rebounder from his guard spot. He should present a good challenge to the young UNCG guards.

In the end, this is another game that UNCG should win handily. It also another game where fans should focus more on the team and less on the score. It's time to start really finding a rhythm before heading out on the road.

Go Spartans !!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Scanning the SoCon - Week 3

Scanning the SoCon - Week 3

Power Rankings
1. Elon
2. Western Carolina
3. Samford
4. Davidson
7. Furman
8. UTC
9. Ga Southern
10. Citadel
11. App State

Game of the Week
Wofford @ High Point

Player of the Week
Stephen Croone (Furman)

Sum up your team
UNCG started out the season by defeating the preseason pick to win the Big South, High Point. G found balanced scoring by putting 4 players in double figures. Forwards Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke led the way with 21 and did a good job matching up with High Point's strong front line. On Tuesday, the Spartans jumped out to a 15 point lead on East Carolina and looked to be on their way to win number two. Unfortunately, a turnover and two somewhat questionable foul calls in the last 30 seconds allowed ECU to escape with an 85-84 victory. In both contests, the young Spartans struggled to put the game away even though they held comfortable leads in the last few minutes. I feel like this could be a re-occurring problem as the season continues. However, the Spartans left fans with hope that this team could really make some strides forward this season. This coming week, UNCG should not be tested as they play non-D1 opponents. Hopefully, these games will give the team a chance to work out some of the chemistry issues and expand their bench.

Signing day has come and gone. Talk about your schools' signees.
UNCG picked up commitments from players that it desperately needed. CJ Coleman is a shooter from Indiana. Right now the Spartans are full of point guards that can get to the rim, but really only have 2 players (Paulos, Byrd) that can be considered pure shooters. Coleman will add another to the mix. Quadree Smith (6'8" 290 lbs) and Lloyd Burgess (6'10" 280 lbs) add more size and depth to a UNCG front line that is starting to look like the strength of the team. Smith is ranked as the #6 player in Virginia and is another DMV area connection that UNCG has tapped into the last few season (Kayel Locke, Tevon Saddler). I'm really starting to get excited about the talent level that Wes Miller is bringing to UNCG. I feel like it's been a definitely upgrade over the past 2 seasons.

With Davidson's loss to UW-Milwaukee and 0-3 start, is there anything wrong with Davidson that experience won't fix?
Davidson has lost to two Top 25 ACC opponents. I don't think anyone could fault them for those losses. The home loss to UWM was the only one that was surprising. In that game, the Wildcats were plagued by an ill-timed case of stagnant offense. Honestly, it's the kind of thing you would expect of a team that is trying to replace the players like Kuhlman, Cochran and Cohen. I don't think that this team will struggle all season, though. By January, I assume that most SoCon teams will not like to see Davidson appear on their schedules.

There are lots of non-D1s on the schedule this year for SoCon teams. What should an ideal SoCon schedule look like?
I know that non-D1's are just a part of life as for a lower level D1 program. These programs need home games, to build in a few wins into their schedule and to develop younger players. It's the same reason that high major programs schedule "guarantee games". If I got make my ideal schedule, it would probably consist of 3 money games, 2-3 low major games (mix of home and away), 1 big name home game, a good mix of home-away mid-majors and an exempt tournament. I think every team should be an exempt tournament every year. Having said that, I know that last minute buy outs put schools in a position where they have to bring in non-D1's from time to time. I'm not a fan of having a bunch on the schedule. If I was forced to schedule in order to fill out a home schedule, though, I would definitely do it.

SoCon Games - Week #3

Drexel vs. Elon in Piscataway, NJ (Preseason NIT)
The Citadel at Tennessee (Battle 4 Atlantis) (Fox SportSouth)
Samford at UL-Monroe (Roundball Classic)

TBA vs. Elon in Piscataway, NJ (Preseason NIT)(ESPN3*)
Kennesaw State at Chattanooga
Lee-McRae at Appalachian State

* If the opponent is Rutgers.

Greensboro at UNCG (Spartan All-Access)

Georgia vs. Davidson in Charleston, SC (Charleston Classic) (ESPNU)
The Citadel at Wake Forest (Battle 4 Atlantis) (ESPN3)
Georgia Southern at West Virginia (Cancun Challenge) (ESPN3)
Western Carolina at Kent State (Coaches vs. Cancer)
Samford at ETSU (Roundball Classic)
Wofford at Minnesota (B1G Ten Network)

TBA vs. Davidson in Charleston, SC (Charleston Classic) (ESPN Family)
Chattanooga at Nevada (Las Vegas Invitational)
Niagra at Western Carolina (Coaches vs. Cancer)
Appalachian State at North Carolina Central (Global Sports Shootout)

Georgia Southern at Old Dominion (Cancun Challenge)
Furman at College of Charleston
USC Upstate vs. Western Carolina in Kent Ohio (Coaches vs. Cancer)
Samford at Western Kentucky (Roundball Classic)

TBA vs. Davidson in Charleston, SC (Charleston Classic) (ESPN Family)
Wofford at High Point
Chattanooga at UCLA (Las Vegas Invitational)(Pac-12 Network)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chowan Highlights

4 Factors - Chowan

Points Per Possesion
UNCG - 1.39
Chowan - 0.84

4 Factors

eFG %
UNCG - 62.6
Chowan - 43.1

TO %
UNCG - 11.5
Chowan - 15.6

OR %
UNCG - 42.1
Chowan - 7.4

FT Rate
UNCG - 49.2
Chowan - 18.9

Spartans Throttle Hawks

UNCG 97 - Chowan 58

UNCG Athletics
Chowan Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 49 - Chowan 25

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (17)
Leader Rebounds: White (11)
Leader Assist: Parker (7)
Team FG: 36-63 (57.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-17 (41.2%)
Team FT: 18-31 (58.1%)
Rebounds: 50
Turnovers: 8

Chowan Stats
Leader Points: Powers (15)
Leader Rebounds: Powers (7)
Leader Assists: Brown, Smith (Tied - 3)
Team FG: 21-58 (36.2%)
Team 3 Pt: 8-27 (29.6%)
Team FT: 8-11 (72.7%)
Rebounds: 22
Turnovers: 11

This game went about as well as could be expected. A lot of guys played and played well. After watching 3 games live, I've been very impressed with a few Spartan players. Cain, Locke and Saddler are getting a lot of headlines (and rightfully so). But I have really enjoyed watching Tyrone Outlaw. He always seems to be around the ball and makes the little plays that can help the team win.

Tonight it was good to see guys like RJ White, Jordy Kuiper and Clay Byrd get extended minutes. All three guys made some nice plays and had their moments.The story of the game was again the UNCG point guards repeatedly attacking the basket. Tevon Saddler, Drew Parker and Diante Baldwin drove the ball into the defense play after play and set up their teammates while getting Chowan the commit fouls.

If there was a black eye tonight, it was the 18-31 free throw shooting for UNCG. Over the first 3 games, UNCG has been to the line a lot. They need to start converting at a better percentage.

All-in-all it was a good performance. I look for a similar performance on Wednesday.

Go Spartans !!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chowan (0-1) @ UNCG (1-1)

When: Sunday, November 17 2:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: None/Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

Chowan Athletics

Preseason Preview

UNCG Stats
Last Game: East Carolina (L 84-85) Recap
PPG: 83.0
RPG: 42.5
APG: 13.0
Leader Points: Tevon Saddler (22.0)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain, Kayel Locke (Tied - 8.0)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (4.5)
FG %: 48.1
3 Pt %: 37.9
FT %: 68.0

Chowan Stats
Last Game: Apprentive School (L 91-97 OT) Recap
PPG: 91.0
RPG: 55.0
APG: 20.0
Leader Points: Ashante Ross (20.0)
Leader Rebounds: Phoenix Bulter-Poole (15.0)
Leader Assists: Tiron Brown (7.0)
FG %: 35.5
3 Pt %: 35.6
FT %: 70.0

The Spartans are playing a team that East Carolina beat by 50 on Thursday. The same ECU team that I thought UNCG should have defeated on Tuesday. Does that mean UNCG should win by 50 too? Not really. I just am saying that I expect UNCG to win easily.

I'm looking for UNCG to get off to another good start and get some separation from the Hawks early and to have this one wrapped up by halftime. I'm also interested to see how this team responds to a tough loss on Tuesday. The Greensboro Coliseum has had bigger crowds and energy for the first two game. Sunday afternoon will have a different feel. An early afternoon start against a non-D1 opponent will keep most fans away. The Spartans will have to make their own energy in this one. It should be fun to see how well they handle it.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Rules Thoughts

After watching 2 games live, I can plainly see a trend that I don't like in college basketball. Everyone predicted it in the preseason and talked at length about it. The problem is these new foul rules and the chaos it is creating.

Tuesday night saw a combined 49 fouls called and 63 free throws shot. Opening night against High Point, there were 48 fouls called and 67 free throws shot. Both games slowed to a crawl b/c the teams had to go into a zone defense in order to protect players with multiple fouls. I've heard the idea was to make the game flow better, but both games lasted well over 2 hours. Both games were slow and got completely ugly at times. Teams and the fans from both sides were irritated and upset with how these games are being called.

Now let me say this first ... I don't blame the referees for this problem. Yes, I think they missed 2 calls at the end of the ECU game. However, they were calling a ridiculously tight game from the beginning. Teams needed to adjust. Otherwise, the refs are just doing as they have been instructed. They are supposed to call almost every touch foul and clean the game up. As a result, cleaning the game up has turned into a long free throw shooting contest where the officials are playing a much bigger part of the game than ever before.

I really believe the NCAA is trying to turn the college game into something that is played like the NBA. While I'm not a huge fan of the NBA, I do think there is some merit to the change. Those games do play a lot cleaner and the offenses are a lot of fun to watch. The problem with trying to carry this down to college is that the rules (among other things) don't match.

In the NBA, players get 6 fouls, not 5 before fouling out. The NBA doesn't have the traditional 1-and-1. Their bonus free throws are 2 shots and start after at the 5th foul of each quarter. Also, NBA teams have large benches and play at least 12-13 guys each game. These teams are built around these rules.

To try to implement new rules (or enforcement) into the college game without modifying other things seems silly. I don't mind the idea of officials calling a tight game and enforcing the rules as they have been directed. I just think it's time to look other things too. Should we be giving players an extra foul before fouling out? Should the bonus start with 8 team fouls or even 9? I'm not sure what should be done, but it's obvious that there needs to be more tweaking to them.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ECU Highlights & Press Conference

4 Factors ECU

Points Per Possession
UNCG - 1.12
ECU - 1.09

4 factors

UNCG - 55.7
ECU - 44.7

UNCG - 25.4
ECU - 11.6

UNCG - 29.5
ECU - 21.8

FT Rate
UNCG - 67.3
ECU - 41.7

Spartan Drop Heartbreaker to Pirates

UNCG 84 - ECU 85

UNCG Atheltics
ECU Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 40 - ECU 30

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Saddler (34)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (9)
Leader Assists: Saddler (5)
Team FG: 26-52 (50.0%)
Team 3 Pt: 6-12 (50.0%)
Team FT: 26-35 (74.3%)
Rebounds: 43
Turnovers: 19

East Carolina Stats
Leader Points: Richmond (19)
Leader Rebounds: Zangari, Stith, Campbell, White (Tied - 5)
Leader Assists: Roberts-Campbell (3)
Team FG: 27-67 (40.3%)
Team 3 Pt: 6-21 (28.6%)
Team FT: 25-28 (89.3%)
Rebounds: 31
Turnovers: 9

Does anyone wonder why the stats above look like a UNCG win? That's because that is what is was (or should have been). In all honesty, this game shouldn't have been in position to end the way that it ended. The Spartans controlled this one throughout. It was 2 silly fouls and one turnover at the end that helped down UNCG. Were the last 2 calls actually fouls? I have my opinions. However, the refs called anything and everything close a foul. You've got to know that's the case and adjust.

On a positive note, I'm not sure there are many teams on the schedule that can play UNCG man-to-man straight up for a whole game and not pay for it badly. The Spartans jumped out to a 20-7 lead early and by the second half had forced ECU into playing zone. Partially this was due to foul trouble. However, it was also due to the fact that they were not able to contain UNCG in the man-to-man. Tevon Saddler and Tyrone Outlaw continue to impress as freshmen. The big guys needs to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble, but Kyle Cain was again impressive. It was also nice to Nicholas Paulos's shoot with confidence.

This is a tough game to swallow. But there's nothing anyone can do to change it. It'll go down in the books as 85-84 ECU. Got to just enjoy the positives and hope this doesn't hurt the team emotionally. They have time to recover.

Go Spartans !!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

4 Factors - High Point

Points Per Possession
UNCG - 1.12
High Point - 0.98

4 Factors

eFG %
UNCG - 46.4
High Point - 43.5

TO %
UNCG - 13.6
High Point - 14.7

OR %
UNCG - 24.0
High Point - 20.7

FT Rate
UNCG - 71.4
High Point - 43.5

4 Factors - Explanation

Okay, truth time ... I am aware that points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentages, etc are very out dated stats, They tell you very little about your team or opponent. I am simply a lazy guy. It's very easy to pick up a box score and copy down the information.

There. I said it.

Now it's time to fix it. It's time to start listing something known as the "4 factors". The four factors are something that Ken Pomeroy has been promoting based on Dean Oliver's four factors concept. In a nutshell, these four stats give you a much better idea of how good or bad your team is when compared to every other team equally. I'll try to give you an insight into each. But before I start let's talk about offensive efficiency and points per possession.

Points Per Possession
Simply listing points scored per game by each team is an awful stat. Look at it this way. VMI is a super fast tempo team that isn't known to be a good shooting team. Wisconsin is a slow tempo team that usually shoots a better percentage. If I simply list WMI as scoring 83.2 (made up) ppg versus Wisconsin scoring 56.5 (also made up) points per game and compare them, you could say VMI is the better offensive team. But is that true?

Points per possession balances out the tempo a team plays in order to be able to compare them better. It divides the points scored by the number of possessions in a game (FG attempts - offensive rebounds + turnovers + .475 * FT attempts). Thus you are able to compare the offensive ability of Wisconsin and VMI and equal footing even though each team runs a different tempo.

By the way, think of the average as about 1.01-1.02 points per possession. Anything above that is pretty good. if your defense give up that or better, it's not so good.

Now let's move on to the real stuff ...

Four Factors

Efficiency FG Percentage (eFG %)
FG made + 0.5 * 3 pointers made / FG attempts

With some teams taking as many as a 1/3rd of their shots behind the arc, this stat is basically shooting percentage stat for the modern day game of basketball. It gives extra credit for made 3 point shots. Think of 47%-49% as about the national average.

Turnover Rate (TO%)
Turnovers / Possessions

This one is pretty simply to see an explain. 20 turnovers hurt a team that averages 65 possessions a game a lot more than one that averages 85 possessions a game. National average here is about 22%.

Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR %)
Offensive rebounds / (offensive rebounds + opponent defensive rebounds)

"How well do you do at rebounding your misses" is the name of this stat. Saying you had 10 offensive rebounds means nothing when you only rebound 10% of your team's missed shots. National average is about 30%.

Free Throw Rate
FT attempted / FG attempted

The aggressive stat. How often do you get to the free throw line? Are you content to just take jump shots and not attack the basket? National average is around 35.

I will try to post these 4 factors sometime in the post-game reports. I'm still lazy and will continue to use the other stuff I normally use as well. I'll just throw these in too. Special thanks to this post at Midwest Sports Fan for making things even clearer for me.

East Carolina (1-0) @ UNCG (1-0)

When: Tuesday, November 12 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: None/Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

East Carolina Atheltics

Preseason Preview

UNCG Stats
Last Game: High Point (W 82-74) Recap
PPG: 82.0
RPG: 42.0
APG: 12.0
Leader Points: Locke, Cain (Tied - 21.0)
Leader Rebounds: Locke, Outlaw (Tied - 9.0)
Leader Assists: Saddler (4.0)
FG %: 46.4
3 Pt %: 29.4
FT %: 62.5

East Carolina Stats
Last Game: NC Wesleyan (W 97-51) Recap
PPG: 97.0
RPG: 50.0
APG: 26.0
Leader Points: Paris Roberts-Campbell (21.0)
Leader Rebounds: Marshall Guilmette (11.0)
Leader Assists: Antonio Robinson (6.0)
FG %: 56.7
3 Pt %: 41.7
FT %: 50.0

As this season gets underway, UNCG and East Carolina find themselves in very similar situations. The pirates and Spartans both lost almost all returning contributors from 2012-2013. ECU's leadership and experience last season led them to win the Tournament (CIT) Championship. From that team, only one starter remains. So as much as UNCG was a mystery going into this season, so are the Pirates.

The Pirates do return 2 good guards in Paris Roberts-Campbell and Akeem Richmond and got good play from 2 freshmen (Caleb White and Brandan Stith) in their opener against NC Wesleyan. However, it hard to take a lot away from a game against a lower level team at home. Due to the large point difference, 11 ECU players played at least 8 minutes in the game.

East Carolina did manage to bring in several transfers, but all are ineligible to play this season (their last in C-USA). Next season, the Pirates move into the AAC full time. I think they are trying to be more prepared for that jump next season. So, this is just a very long way of saying that I honestly have no idea what to expect out of the Pirates. In their first game, they took 1/3 of their shots behind the arc and shared and rebounded the ball well. They didn't shoot free throws well and didn't get to the line as often as I would have expected.

For their parts, UNCG needs to bring that same attitude and excitement back to the court that they showed on Friday. The Spartans started fast and really never looked back. I would love to see that same thing again on Tuesday. Both of these teams are young and inexperienced. Both will be somewhat fragile emotionally. High Point was an older team that didn't go down when UNCG hit them hard. ECU might, though. Or it could be the other way around? UNCG hasn't faced any adversity so far. How will they handle it if it comes from the Pirates? I guess we will all find out soon enough.

Go Spartans !!!

SoCon Games - Week #2

I going to start posting all of the upcoming games for SoCon teams on Monday mornings. I'll aslso post TV/Internet listings in case you want to try to catch some of ther games.

Georgia Southern at Miami, FL (ESPN3)
Chattanooga at Radford (Big South Network)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Davidson (ESPN3)
Emory & Henry at Wofford
UNC-Asheville at Western Carolina

East Carolina at UNCG (Spartan All-Access)
Gardner-Webb at Furman
Campbell at Appalachian State
Presbyterian at The Citadel
Samford at Texas-Arlington

Western Carolina at Oregon (Pac-12 Network)

Elon at UNC-Charlotte
Florida Gulf Coast at Furman (CSS)
Western Carolina at Virginia Tech (ESPN3)
Samford at Indiana (Big Ten Network)

Virginia vs. Davidson in Charlotte
Wofford at Iona
Appalachian State at Cincinnati (Fox Sports)
Montreat at Chattanooga
North Greenville College at The Citadel
Western Carolina at Liberty
Toccoa Falls at Georgia Southern

Chowan at UNCG (Spartan All-Access)

Scanning the SoCon #2

Scanning the SoCon - Week #2

Power Rankings
1. Elon
2. Davidson
3. Western Carolina
4. Samford
6. Chattanooga
7. App State
8. Wofford
9. Furman
10. Ga Southern
11. Citadel

Game of the Week
Elon @ Charlotte

Player of the Week
Kayel Locke (UNCG)
Which performance was most surprising/disappointing in Week One?Appalachian State- UNCG's win over High Point was the best of a small list. Having been blown out by HP last year, to come out and get the win this year year shows growth despite the loss of Trevis Simpson.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

High Point Highlights

Opening Night Scores

SoCon Scores
Citadel 71 - VMI 82
Covenant 56 - Chattanooga 119
High Point 74 - UNCG 82
Davidson 77 - (4) Duke 111
Washington & Lee 64 - Elon 114
Wofford 52 - Georgia 72
App State 77 - NC State 98
Wittenberg 55 - Western Carolina 77
Martin Methodist 62 - Samford 79
Sewanee 49 - Furman 66
Columbia International 74 - Georgia Southern 110

OOC Opponent Scores
NC Wesleyan 51 - East Carolina 97
La Tech - St Mary's
Florida A&M 84 - Rutgers 92
James Madison 41 - Virginia 61
Oakland 61 - UNC-CH 84
Presbyterian 57 - Georgia Tech 88
Colgate 78 - Wake Forest 89

Friday, November 8, 2013

Spartans Start Season Off Right

UNCG 82 - High Point 74

UNCG Athletics
High Point Athletics

UNCG 33 - High Point 32

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Locke, Cain (Tied - 21)
Leader Rebounds: Locke (9)
Leader Assists: Saddler (4)
Team FG: 26-56 (46.4%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-17 (29.4%)
Team FT: 25-40 (62.5%)
Rebounds: 42
Turnovers: 10
High Point Stats
Leader Points: Chaney (21)
Leader Rebounds: Chaney (12)
Leader Assists: McGaughy (2)
Team FG: 27-62 (43.5%)
Team 3 Pt: 1-14 (7.1%)
Team FT: 19-27 (70.4%)
Rebounds: 38
Turnovers: 11

It's really hard to sum up how much fun that was for me to watch. What I saw was a team that loved to share the ball with each other, played hard and played smart (for the most part). They definitely weren't perfect and have plenty of things to work on before Tuesday night. However, they stuck together and got the win.

There are a bunch of things to talk about with this game. I thought that the guys did very well making the most of their opportunities. Saddler and Locke did a great job of controlling the first half and Tyrone Outlaw came up big in the second half. Kyle Cain was as good as advertised and after fighting through 1st half foul trouble, he really showed a nice all around game. Diante Baldwin made some very nice plays in the second half. While Jordy Kuiper and RJ White didn't make a big impact on the stat sheet, they did well battling Brown & Chaney and buying Cain some minutes of rest. All-in-all there was a lot to like this evening.

With the new foul rules, UNCG will have to shoot free throws better. If there was a big black eye of this evening it was definitely the 25-40 that the Spartans went from the charity stripe. If UNCG just makes 5 more to get to 75%, this game is not even in doubt for the last 5 minutes. I think this may be a bit of first game nerves and I expect the percentages improve in the coming games.

Finally, I want to thank High Point for buying a ton of tickets and showing up in force for this game. They helped to make the atmosphere in the stands "chippy", but they added a lot of extra money to the athletics department budget. In all honesty, it was a fun rivalry game and set an opening night attendance record for UNCG (5,734). I did receive a couple of middle fingers and was called a few choice names. I simply stood and gave a nice steady clap for the Spartans as they made their final free throws. It was a lot more fun to not talk shit to the departing fans in purple than to engage them.

After failing to pick up a win against a D1 OOC opponent last season, it feels good to go ahead and get one right off the bat this year. I'm not ready to crown this season as something special yet, but here are definitely things to like going forward. I can't wait to see them play again on Tuesday night.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DC Big Man Chooses Spartans

According to Marcus Helton of, 2014 6'-8" F/C Quadree Smith (Fairfax, VA/Paul VI) has became the second player to commit to UNCG's 2014 class. Smith picked UNCG over offers from Towson, Tennessee, George Mason and Drexel. Recruiting lists Smith as a 3-star recruit and ranks him as the 6th best HS player in Virginia. They have this to say about him ...
Smith is the kind of kid who has no identity crisis. He's a business man in the lane and given his obvious size, he's a problem.
DMVelite ranks him as the 13th best player in the DC area. has some video on Smith (as well as the gaudy list of offers that Smith was sporting).

The Washington Post had a nice article featuring Quadree back in January. There were two great quotes to highlight ...
“He’s relentless out there,” Derrickson said. “I know I have to try to match his intensity or else he’s going to kick my butt.”

“He’s got almost a point-guard awareness where he’s able to identify things and always knows what’s going on around him,” Farello said. “Out of huddles, you might see him telling a teammate what to pay attention to or what scheme might work. Q’s one of the better leaders I’ve coached in that he’s such a positive influence on his teammates.”

I will admit that I don't have the best in videos to offer right now, but I will seek out better ones in the near future. For now, I'll post these ...

This is huge pick up for UNCG. The Spartans have had trouble getting skilled big men to come to Greensboro for as long as I can remember. UNCG has always had to turn to undersized guys for the 4 and 5 positons. It's refreshing to see our coaching staff aggressively go after so many skilled front court players and get them to commit to UNCG. I can't wait to see another one in uniform next season.

Welcome to the Spartans, Quadree !!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

High Point (0-0) @ UNCG (0-0)

When: Friday, November 8 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: None/Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

High Point Athletics

Preseason Preview

UNCG Stats*
Last Game: Lees-McRae Exh. (W 104-76) Recap
PPG: 71.7
RPG: 36.2
APG: 12.1
Leader Points: Kayel Locke (9.9)
Leader Rebounds: Kayel Locke (4.4)
Leader Assists: Drew Parker (2.6)
FG %: 41.8
3 Pt %: 34.1
FT %: 67.3

High Point Stats*
Last Game: Bridgewater Exh. ( W96-53) Recap
PPG: 71.7
RPG: 37.2
APG: 14.8
Leader Points: John Brown (16.4)
Leader Rebounds: Allan Chaney (8.1)
Leader Assists: DeJuan McGaughy (2.5)
FG %: 44.7
3 Pt %: 31.2
FT %: 71.8

* - "Stats" are from 2012-2013 season. "Leaders" are best of the returning players.

Well, it's time for real college basketball to start again. It feels awful good to be writing that sentence. It's the time when "wait til next year" becomes reality and everyone has that feeling of hope. All teams are potential conference champions and NCAA Tournament participants.

For the second straight year, UNCG opens with the High Point University Panthers. Last season, UNCG was coming off a North Division Championship and was predicted to win another. High Point had lost several major contributors and had a major college transfer plus freshmen with potential. The Millis Center was full of electricity and HPU rode that wave (and the strong play of their new players) to a pretty convincing win. UNCG wasn't able to achieve at a level of those lofty preseason expectations. Meanwhile HPU went on to win their conference's division title.

This season's game sees an almost identical script, just reversed. The Panthers return almost everyone from last season and are predicted to win the Big South and head to the NCAA Tournament. UNCG has lost almost all major contributors. A lot of the Spartans talent lies in potential, not experience. Also, this year's game will be played on UNCG's home court at the Greensboro Coliseum. Will the outcome change around too?

Well, let's first look back on what happened last year. UNCG dug a huge hole by turning the ball over and the Panthers exploited their weakness by pounding the ball inside. UNCG also didn't help itself by taking some ill advised early shots. By the time the Spartans settled down in the second half, they couldn't come all the way back and lost by 8. Those deficiencies stuck with UNCG almost all season. This season, though, UNCG seems to have fixed at least one of those problems. Kyle Cain, Jordy Kuiper and RJ White will add skill, size and depth to the lone returning post player (Kayel Locke). I expect our big guys to match up relatively well with the HPU big men. John Brown is a special player. He is going to make some plays. UNCG just needs to stay solid and continue to play focused, fundamental defense. I am afraid that the turnovers could be a problem in this game again. I'm not sure what's going on with Jordan Potts. If he's not available, Drew Parker is the only returning player with PG experience. That doesn't fill me with tons of hope. However, his team does appear to want to share the ball and find the best shot available. That should serve them well.

Just like last season, this game only counts as 1 in the win-loss column. This one game is not going to make or break the entire season. But it's a home game against a county rival. The will be some electricity in the coliseum and the game will count. I'm excited and looking for a good showing. On paper it's not as good of a match up as I'd like to see. But it's a chance to see my favorite team play again and there's always hope.

Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Talented Indiana Guard Chooses Spartans

I've been very busy getting all the preseason previews taken care of and forgot to report a bit of breaking news on the recruiting front. This happened back in mid-October. According to multiple outlets (including his own twitter feed) 2013 G C.J. Coleman (6'-3" Fortville, IN/Mount Vernon HS) has committed to play for UNCG next season. Coleman picked UNCG over Georgia Southern, Ball State, Gardner-Webb, Indiana State and IUPUI.

Here is an article about his commitment and here is one from the Indianapolis Star back in the summer when Coleman's recruiting was heating up.

It seems that the coaches really struck a cord with the Fontville, Indiana native as he continued to speak about them and what the staff brought to the table, “I feel the coaching staff is doing big things over there…All the coaches were high major players with successful careers was very important to me because they have been through it and know what needs to be done to be successful.”

Here is a great set of highlights of Coleman from YouTube.

It's very early in the recruiting season and I'd expect that with his ability that Coleman will get a lot of attention and I think he's a very good player and a great commitment for UNCG. This team still needs more shooters and scorers. The roster has a bunch of drive-and-kick type PG's and the Spartans need guys who can knock down perimeter shots. Coleman certainly appears to fit that bill.

As always, UNCG won't be able to comment about Coleman until he signs his official NLI. That period begins November 13 and runs through November 20. After that point, the athletics department will probably put out a press release. At that point, I will update my blog again.

Welcome to the Spartans, CJ !!!

Scanning the SoCon #1

My buddy John over at MocsMania is again doing his "Scanning the SoCon" series. He has a diverse group of bloggers, message board people and student newspaper writers from each school (except the Wofford writer bailed ... WTF???) to discuss pressing topics and rank the teams.

As I have done in the past, I will link to the whole article while posting the rankings that I sent to John and occasionally a quote or two that I really liked from the article. This first week I was asked not only to rank the teams, but also fill out a All-Conference team. So, I will post my answers to that too. Enjoy !!!

Scanning the SoCon - Preseason Awwards

All-SoCon Team
1. De'Mon Brooks (POY)
2. Trey Sumler
3. Jay Canty
4. Lucas Troutman
5. Tim Williams

Scanning the SoCon - Week #1

Week #1 Rankings
1. Davidson
2. Elon
3. Western Carolina
4. App State
5. Samford
6. Chattanooga
8. Wofford
9. Furman
10. Ga Southern
11. Citadel

Monday, November 4, 2013

Exhibition Results

Exhibition results from future opponents.

SoCon Teams
Lenior-Rhyne 57 - Davidson 108 Recap
North Greenville 61 - Furman 85 Recap
Thomas University 49 - Georgia Southern 88 Recap
Lees-McRae 76 - UNCG 104 Recap
Lynchburg 57 - Elon 100 Recap
Miles College 52 - Samford 90 Recap

OOC Teams
Bridgewater 53 - High Point 96 Recap
Arkansas-Monticello 64 - La Tech 85 Recap
Southern Arkansas 49 - La Tech 100 Recap
UNC-Pembroke 63 - UNC-CH 82 Recap
Caldwell 60 - Rutgers 90 Recap
Philadelphia Univ. 69 - James Madison 73 OT Recap
Brevard 66 - Wake Forest 93 Recap
UNC-Pembroke 85 - NC State 96 Recap
Morehouse 62 - NC State 87 Recap

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Lees-McRae Highlights

Spartans Streak Past Bobcats in Exhibition

UNCG 104 - Lees-McRae 76

UNCG Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 50 - Lees-McRae 36

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Kayel Locke (30)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (11)
Leader Assists: Parker, Saddler (Tied - 6)
FG: 39-67 (58.2%)
3 Pt: 5-13 (38.5%)
FT: 21-31 (67.7%)
Rebounds: 44
Turnovers: 16

Lees-McRae Stats
Leader Points: Mike Chambers (19)
Leader Rebounds: Bond, Moore (Tied - 5)
Leader Assists: Darius Smith (9)
FG: 28-63 (44.4%)
3 Pt: 6-17 (35.3%)
FT: 14-24 (58.3%)
Rebounds: 33
Turnovers: 21

The completely new look UNCG Spartans showed some substantial firepower on the offensive end by having 5 guys score in double figures and Spartans fans finally got to see Kyle Cain in uniform. Cain didn't disappoint by recording a double double (14 points & 11 rebounds). The star of the show for me, though, was Tevon Saddler. The freshman from Baltimore had a great all around game by tallying 16 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Saddler did a great job of running the break, getting to the rim and setting up teammates (and himself) for easy baskets.

Most of the new guys got decent minutes and made some nice plays. Tyrone Outlaw was very efficient and scoring 13 points. Diante Baldwin, Jordy Kuiper and Clay Byrd also had their moments. Plus, it was nice to see the new guys blend nicely with returning players Kayel Locke and  Nicholas Paulos. Locke did his normal thing of making and array of shots around the basket and Paulos took and made 3 pointers in rhythm. All-in-all it was a very good offensive showing.

On the negative side, the Spartans were sloppy with the ball and allowed too many 2nd chance attempts to a team were undersized. These are things that I expect UNCG will work on this week as they head into a game with a very good front line. However, some of these negatives might be due to Coach Miller looking for the right combinations of players. Also, Jordan Potts didn't dress for this game. Not sure of the reason, though.

In the end, it was about what I expected to see on both ends of the court. It was nice to see the balance and sharing of the basketball. The final score honestly never really mattered as UNCG controlled the game the entire time. Now it's time for the real thing.

Go Spartans !!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preseason Preview: UNCG

This is the preview I wrote over at Mocsmania.

Push the Reset Button

At this time last year, UNCG was the trendy pick to be the contenders to the long time Davidson-controlled throne of "Best in the SoCon". They returned the SoCon leading scorer, best 6th man and had a manageable schedule. Also they had hired a new, young coach which had excited the fan base. It was going to be the Spartans year. Except that it wasn't. What transpired was an unmitigated disaster. UNCG managed just 2 non-confernce wins (Winston-Salem State & Lees-McRae). At times they seemed disinterested, lost and generally seemed to not like each other very much. Also every break or close game that went the Spartans way in their 11-5 finish to the 2011-2012 season, went the opposite way in 2012-2013. In the months following the end of the season, UNCG's roster (and maybe even the program in general) has really hit the reset button. Gone are heavy volume shooters and scorers Trevis Simpson (18.7 ppg & 15.9 FG attempts per game) and Derrell Armstrong (14.7 ppg & 11.5 FG attempts per game). Simpson decided to turn pro, while Armstrong graduated. Also graduating were "glue" guys Korey Van Dussen and Kelvin McNeil. Junior defensive stopper David Williams (1.6 steals per game) then announced he was leaving the program. Even UNCG alum and assistant coach/DoBO Kevin Oleksiak is no longer with the program. All-in-all, The Spartans lost roughly 73% of their points and 63% of their rebounds from last season. That is a lot to replace and it's easy to see why no one has picked them to finish above 8th.

UNCG does return several players with starting experience, though. Senior Drew Parker (21.9 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 2.5 apg) and sophomore Jordan Potts (16.5 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 1.3 apg) both spent time in the starting lineup. Also back is forward Kayel Locke (9.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and sharpshooter Nicholas Paulos (8 ppg & 40% 3 Pt) . Locke is looking to build off a solid freshman campaign that saw him start over half of UNCG's games. Paulos showed what he could do when he drained 10 shots from behind the arc at the Roundhouse last season. Center RJ White was given a medical redshirt and will still be listed as a freshman. White put up some big numbers when UNCG traveled to Spain this Summer. Against the Aragon Select Club Team, White had a double-double (14 pts & 14 rebs) and looked very comfortable playing with his new front court running mate Kyle Cain.

Cain is a 6'-8" transfer from Arizona State that had to sit out last season due to the transfer rules. He could be the breakout star of the SoCon this coming season. During the trip to Spain, Cain recorded double-doubles in 3 of the 4 games, including and 18 point, 11 rebound performance against the Venezuela National team. Cain, along with White and freshman European big man Jordy Kuiper (6'-9" 238 lbs), figures to shore up the interior defense, which was a glaring weakness for UNCG a season ago. Along with Cain and Kuiper, Spartan fans are going to get to meet a huge group of new players this season. Wes Miller and his staff seemed to really concentrate on getting good in-state talent this season. Clay Byrd, Tyrone Outlaw and Diante Baldwin were all local targets that UNCG managed to pick up. Outlaw (6'-6" 205 lbs) is reminding everyone of Trevis Simpson with his athleticism. The Spartans went north to the Baltimore/DC area to find a highly sought after wing player in Tevon Saddler. They also brought in Allen Baez (Miami, FL) and JUCO transfer Modestas Masilionis. Masilionis was 2nd in NJCAA in 3 point shooting percentage (52%) last year.

In case you lost count, that's 8 new faces that will be trying to work their way into the rotation and develop chemistry with each other. UNCG has scheduled accordingly. The Spartans will face 3 non-D1 teams in its first 9 games. They also get home games with Big South favorite High Point, CIT winner East Carolina and a neutral site match up with NCAA sleeper pick LA Tech. The LA Tech game is the first game of three that Wes Miller's squad will play in Naples, Florida as part of the Gulf Coast Showcase Tournament. The tournament features a lot of mid-major teams that the Spartans should match up well against. As always, UNCG has scheduled 4 ACC teams. The young NC State team is coming to the Greensboro Coliseum, but UNCG will travel to UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The schedule does seem much more manageable then in seasons past. But I said that last year too and we all know how that turned out.

At this point, it's very hard to make any solid predictions for the 2013-2014 season. I think most realistic UNCG fans would be excited to see the team finish around the 0.500 mark and I think that's an obtainable goal. However, UNCG has struggled for the last 5 years to win out of conference games against D1 teams. It's hard to imagine that they can get to 0.500 without getting some of those wins. With High Point, ECU, Presbyterian and James Madison all making visits to the Greeensboro Coliseum, there are opportunities to get those wins. There is a very real chance that 4 freshmen could be on the floor at the same time for the Spartans. To me, that means no one will see the best of the UNCG basketball team until January and February. But with so many freshmen, the worst case scenario would be to see the young guys start to lose confidence if things don't go well right out of the gate. I wish I could write this article and happily say that UNCG will finish with 17 wins, but I honestly think the total will be in the 12-14 win range. I can see the Spartans finishing in the 6-8 range of the SoCon and if that happens I believe we could call that a success. I am sure some in our fan base would expect more, but with all of the new faces it's just too hard to guess what kind of product we'll see on the court. But I am excited to see this newly "reset" UNCG program on the court again soon

Preseason Preview: Southern Conference

On the eve of UNCG's first game (exhibition against Lees-McRae), it' time to look at the teams of the Southern Conference. My buddy John over at MocsMania has been doing one preview a day written by all of us that contribute to his "Scanning the SoCon" weekly Q&A series. I have decided that as opposed to doing a cookie cutter preview of the whole SoCon, I would post individual links to each of those previews. I am also going to post the preview that I wrote for UNCG in its entirety. Some of the things that John asked us to look at in our previews were schedules, new players and best/worst case scenarios for our teams.

Appalachian State
There's a solid core of six guys right now (Burgess, Neal, Hamilton, Canty, Baskin and Obacha) who will start and probably will be joined by Kobani and the remaining sixth-man guard is up for grabs to make the eight-man rotation. As far as a season overview, App has a really solid chance to finish high up in this conference. Anything less would be a disappointment.

The conference schedule features just one game against league favorites, Davidson and Elon. It also features just one game against the bottom two in the preseason polls, Georgia Southern and The Citadel. So the conference schedule basically balances out. There are trips to Furman and The Citadel to open SoCon schedule, and home dates with Samford and Wofford. If everything works out, there is a chance for a really fast start in SoCon play.

The Citadel
Clearly, the increase in non-D1 scheduling is partly about trying to fill out a home schedule as a low-major, with the reduction of the SoCon's league schedule to 16 games probably a factor. I do wonder, though, if the conference is trying to "game" the RPI to a certain extent.

NCAA rule changes to protect the ball-handler and help the scoring should benefit the Wildcats. They led the nation in free throw shooting last season at 79.5% and should be excellent free throw shooters again.

With all five starters returning from last year’s squad, Elon has a terrific opportunity to unseat the two-time defending Southern Conference champion Davidson Wildcats.

The Paladins are a team that is hard to figure, but they are likely better than UNCG, The Citadel and Georgia Southern on paper heading into the season. Look for Furman to start putting things together come March, and though a conference tournament title might be several years away, I wouldn't be shocked if Furman won a game in Asheville once again this season.

Georgia Southern
The two best players on the roster will be redshirting this year and the best player on the floor hasn’t played a game in 2 years. Most likely all 4 signess will see major minutes this year and outside of Dunnican at 6’8 nobody on the roster is over 6’7.

The much anticipated return game with Kentucky (2 for 1) did not materialize. Apparently the fine print in the contract said "Kentucky State", not University of Kentucky. The out of conference schedule includes (among others) Indiana, Florida Gulf Coast, ETSU and Marquette away and Austin Peay at home.

Western Carolina
Under ninth year head coach Larry Hunter, the Catamounts return five seniors to this years team – Brandon Boggs (guard), Tawaski King (forward), Josh Mendenhall (forward), Trey Sumler (guard) and Tom Tankelewicz (guard). This group of seniors is expected to provide the veteran leadership that was lacking from last season’s team, void of any seniors.

The key for the Terriers will be finding more offensive production. A year ago Karl Cochran took about 40% of the teams shots, and was not a particularly great shooter. They need to find a way to create more open looks for Cochran so that his shooting percentage can go up.