College Hoop Previews: Scouting The Triad Schools

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: November 6, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA — It’s that time of year again. Time for dunks, three-pointers, blocks and assists. It’s time for college basketball and I thought we would take a look at some teams in North Carolina for the 2006-2007 season. Wake Forest University, Winston Salem State University, North Carolina A & T University, Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Guilford College:

Wake Forest Wake Forest

Looking at the Wake Forest Men’s college basketball team, the first them you notice in looking at their roster is the youth. With only two seniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen will make for a season of growing pains for the Demon Deacons.

With stars like Trent Strickland, Justin Gray and Eric Williams all graduating, it’s up to the few upper classmen on the team to show leadership for the young and inexperience team this season.

After going 17-17 overall and 5-13 in the ACC (including 2 wins in the ACC tournament), head coach Skip Prosser will have even a harder time in having a winning season and making it to a 17th straight post season tournament this season.

Five keys to success this season:

  1. They must have balance on offense because they lost their top 3 scorers to graduation (Gray, Williams and Strickland) Hopefully senior center Kyle Visser, senior forward Michael Drum and sophomore sensational forward Kevin Swinton can become the new scoring trio the team is without this season .
  2. The Deacs must finished games. They had more points at the half then their opponents overall last year but were outscored in the second.
  3. They must shoot better from the free throw line. They shot only 67 percent to their opponents 71 percent.
  4. They must protect the basketball. The Demon Deacons turned the ball over 120 more times then their opponents.
  5. Continue to play solid team defense. The team held opponents to under 42 percent from the floor and under 36 percent from the 3 point line.

Looking at their schedule: With tough out of conference games at Bucknell, and Depaul and tough out of conference home games with Vanderbilt, Georgia, Richmond and James Madison to go along with the always tough and competitive ACC games, it’s hard to see the Demon Deacons winning more than seven or eight games in what will be a rebuilding process and growing pains for him and his team.

Prediction: 10-19.

Head Coach: Skip Prosser, 6th year (111-52 ); Overall: 276-130 in 13 seasons

WSSU Logo Winston Salem State University

Unlike the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, the Rams of Winston Salem State have a balance of experience and youth that should lead to a solid year even after the resignation of head coach Phillip Stitt and especially since this is their first year in Division I basketball.

New coach Bobby Collins has a good mix of athleticism, quickness and the ability to utilize the fast break for easy points. The Rams have three seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen which gives them enough upper classmen with experience and enough sophomores and freshmen for a promising future. Collins comes to WSSU following a tenure at Hampton University where he spent four seasons as head men’s basketball coach and was part of the Pirates’ men’s basketball program for 12 years.

During his time at Hampton, Collins was part of three MEAC Championships (one as head coach) and MEAC two runner-up finishes. His 2002-03 season (19-11) capped the winningest first-year head coaching performance in Hampton history. Among his coaching accomplishments are being a part of a coaching staff at HU that saw the Pirates defeat No.2 seed Iowa State in the 2001 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Five keys to success this season:

  1. They must play solid defense. The Rams are very undersized so utilizing team speed and team defense is a must. The Rams were narrowly out rebound last year and this year size is scarce. Their tallest player is 50 Julian Murphy-Long, a 6-9 215 Forward SO from Charlotte, NC(East Mecklenburg H.S.) with not much experience so rebounds will be tough unless they play as a unit.
  2. They must hold opponents to under 45 percent shooting per game. Last year, the Rams defense was solid holding opponents to under 46 percent shooting from the floor and only 32 percent from the 3 point line and they will need to continue those kinds of numbers or better to have a chance to win.
  3. They must continue to have more assist than turnovers per game. In 2005, the Rams were good in the category of assist to turnover ratio. They had 502 assist to only 456 turnovers while allowing only 355 assist while forcing an impressive 544 turnovers from their opponents. Getting everyone involved in the offense by passing the ball while creating turnovers is an ingredient for success.
  4. The Rams must force tempo against their opponents. Once again, size does matter in basketball especially on the boards and the Rams are not that tall on their front line so forcing tempo or running an uptempo style of game will allow them to score quick and easy on the fast break and will also force opponents to use players not as tall to try and match the Rams team speed. This also allows for offensive rebounding after a miss on the fast break or in a half court offense.
  5. The upperclassmen for the Rams must step up and play big. Senior guard Lowen Wray, senior guard Curtis Hines, senior forward Norman Carter, junior forward Greg Lewis, junior forward David Moore, red-shirt junior guard Roy Peake and junior forward Darrell Wonge must provide the leadership on and off the court and must be sound on offense and defense to show the youth on the team how to win and play the game f! or the Rams to have a successful 2006-2007 season. Look for sophomore forward Jamal Durham and sophomore forward Julian Murphy-Long to play a vital role in the teams chemistry and victories.

Looking at their schedule: With road games at Division I established programs like Georgetown, Notre Dame, Auburn, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, a tournament in Fresno, California consisting of teams like Fresno State, UC Irvine and South Alabama and other road games at Bethune Cookman, Florida A & M and Morgan State, a winning record is not foreseeable but a record around .500 is obtainable considering the nucleus of the team and the leadership of coach Bobby Collins which would be welcomed considering the Rams first year in Division I and in the very tough and competitive MEAC.

Prediction: 14-15.

Head Coach: Bobby Collins, 1st year; Overall: 67-57 in 4 seasons at Hampton.

NCATNorth Carolina A & T

The Aggies of North Carolina A & T have a experience basketball team that is poise to really make some noise in the MEAC this 2006-2007 season. With three seniors and nine juniors, coach Jerry Eaves and the Aggies team should be ready to battle and surprise many experts even though they are picked to finish seventh in the league and especially coming off a disappointing 6-23 record last season.

North Carolina A&T has not had a player make first or second team All-MEAC since the 2000-2001 season when Bruce Jenkins earned first-team honors but this year should be different. The MEAC has selected junior forward Jason Wills to the MEAC preseason first-team, and guard Sean Booker earned preseason second-team honors. Wills led the Aggies in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (7.1). He was fifth in the conference in scoring and seventh in rebounding.

He scored a career-high 31 points at Hampton last season, and scored 20 or more points six times. Booker returns to the Aggies after a red shirt season in 05-06. In 04-05, Booker led the MEAC in scoring at 16.1 points per game. Booker is 125 points away from the 20th Aggie in school history to eclipse 1,000 points for his career. He has scored 20 or more points seven times in his career.

Five keys to success this season:

1. The Aggies must finish games. The Aggies were outscored by over 100 points in the second half of games last season. After playing good enough and keeping the score close at halftime of games in 2005, they seem to lose composure and focus and their opponents ran away with games and that’s something this upperclassmen team cannot allow this season.

2. They must shoot a high percent from the floor and 3 point line. Although defensively, the Aggies held their opponents to just 44 percent shooting from the floor and only 33 percent from behind the arc, the Aggies shot worst shooting only 39 percent from the floor and even worse 28 percent from the 3 point line. They must improved those stats offensively considerably to compete in the MEAC and non-conference games.

3. They must do a much better job at rebounding especially on the defensive boards. The Aggies were out rebound 379 to 339 on the offensive boards which is ok but were out-hustled on the defensive boards 759 to 614 which is unacceptable and is not a formula for success in games.

4. They must improve their assist to turnover ratio as a team and versus their opponents. The Aggies managed just 328 total assist for the year as a team while allowing 426 to their opponents. They did create 511 turnovers versus their opponents but turned the ball over themselves 472 times. They must share the ball to create some scoring opportunities for the front line to score inside and/or for the backcourt to get open looks at the basket.

5. As in the case for the Rams, the Aggies are somewhat undersized but have a lot of experienced players that must show leadership in order to win. Senior guards Derrick Crumpton and Walter Booth, senior G/F Greg Roberts and the 9 talented juniors(Steven Rush, Glen Nelson, Austin Ewing, Trahern Chaplin, Angelo Hernandez, Patrick Gregg, Jason Wills and Sean Booker) they have returning must play together, play hard and remember the disappointment of only 6 wi! ns in 2005.

Looking at their schedule: With road games at Missouri, Dayton, SC State, Arizona, New Mexico, Baylor, SMU and the regular games in the MEAC, the season will be tough but they should be very competitive. Home games against Mars Hill, St Andrews, Longwood, UMES, Howard, Norfolk State, Hampton, BCC, FAMU, Coppin State and Morgan State are games the Aggies can and should win which could lead to a surprising finish in the MEAC and in the season overall. Coach Eaves and his staff are hoping experienced players and the desire to have a better season will lead to a successful year.

Prediction: 11-18 (not including the MEAC tournament)

Head Coach: Jerry Eaves, 4th season (15-72); Overall: 15-72 in 3 seasons

AppalachianAppalachian State University

As we look at the 2006-07 season for Appalachian State University, the one word that comes to mind is CLOSE. I use that word because of all the tight games and finishes the Coach Houston Fancher and his Mountaineer team had any many games. Games that they could of, should of and would have one if not for some a miss shot, free throw, rebound or a turnover at the wrong time that ultimately led to their 14-16 record. A 13-point loss to then no. 24 Wake Forest, a double overtime loss at James Madison, an eight-point loss at Tennessee and narrow losses to Elon, Chattanooga and UNCG tell the story of how close their record could have been 10 games over .500 rather than 2 games under.

Coach Fancher’s team is ready to redeemed themselves this year with lots of talented players on this year’s roster. Things didn’t work out as expected with Appalachian State’s recruiting class. But the unexpected might have been a good thing, according to Coach Houston Fancher. The Mountaineers lost forwards Ibrahim Gariba and Juan Pablo Montas – neither was cleared for eligibility – but gained guards Kellen Brand and Jeremi Booth. Fancher said that the NCAA didn’t accept high-school work done in England by Gariba, a 6-9 forward from Ghana. Gariba wound up at Wabash Community College and will play for Toby Madison, a former assistant to Fancher at Appalachian.

Soon after, Montas, a 6-7 forward from the Dominican Republic, failed to meet requirements for admission. The loss of size was offset by the addition of Donte Minter, a 6-8 forward who transferred from Virginia. And the loss of both recruits was further offset by the addition of Brand and Booth, two sought-after guards. Brand is a 6-1 shooting guard who averaged 26 points a game at High Point Andrews last season. Booth is a 6-5 wing from Altavista, Va., who averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists at Fork Union Military Academy. Brand is stocky and muscular, Booth tall and lean. Both can score.

Six keys to success this season:

1. The Mountaineers must convert the turnovers and steals they create from their opponents into points. Last year, the Mountaineers had 224 steals which is more than they committed but converted less than their opponents in points (2113 to 2100). They must convert steals and turnovers and get the ball down the court into fast break points.

2. They must play defense with their feet and not with their hands. Last season, the Mountaineers committed more personal fouls than their opponents and were out rebound by their opponents which is something that must be improved in order to be successful. Lack of defense or a rotating team defense also caused 12 games in which a player fouled out a game as oppose to only 3 from their opponents.

3. The assist to turnover ratio must be improved by the team. The Mountaineers committed more turnovers then they had assist while allowing their opponents to have more assist than forced turnovers which is a recipe for losing. The one aspect of the defense that helped the Mountaineers is blocking shots. They had more blocks then their opponents and will need more of that this year along with an overall improvement on defense as a team.

4. They must improve their shooting across the board. The Mountaineers shot only 43 percent from the floor, 35 percent from the 3 point line and 70 percent from the free throw line which was significantly lower late in the second half of games. The Mountaineer must shut down a team defensively but you must make shots, open shots and free throws when the game is on the line.

5. They must get balanced scoring. In 2005, the Mountaineers had only one player score in double figures and that was D.J. Thompson who averaged 19.1 points per game and the second leading scorer was Jeremy Clayton at 9.6 points per game. Although they had others scoring between 4-9 points and that can perceived as balanced, most teams need to get at least 2 to 3 players in double figures to really to m! ake opponents play full team defense and to give your offense a chance to win and that is something the Mountaineers need to develop for 2006.

6. It’s also important Coach Fancher and his staff create a since of calmness and confidence especially playing in the shadows of a Mountaineers football team that won the Division I A National Championship in 2005 and has a great chance to win a championship once again this season.

Looking at their schedule: With road games at Clemson, Wake Forest, College of Charleston, Virginia Tech, UNCG and Georgia Southern, tough games at home versus Georgia Southern, UNCG, The Citadel and Furman, an ESPN Bracket buster game that’s sure to be tough along with games in the SoCon and the SoCon tournament, means the Mountaineers will have a tough go at it especially in the first half of the season.

The overabundance of seniors and juniors on the roster mixed with a group of new freshmen gives the Mountaineers a good nucleus of talent, experience and athleticism. They will need D. J. Thompson and Jeremy Clayton to continue to play solid but they will need a third scorer to step up. Look for Demetrius Scott, P.L. Henderson and Nathan Cranford to be key to a third and even fourth option on offense. They have many games that are win-able on their schedule this season and I believe coach Fancher and his Mountaineer men will turn the CLOSE losses into wins in 2006.

Prediction: 15-15.

Head Coach: Houston Fancher, 7th season at ASU (81-97); Overall: 125-138 in 18 seasons as a head coach


The Spartans of University of North Carolina at Greensboro are coming off a season in which they feel they let some games get away. Coach Mike Dement and the Spartan team are poise to improve on what many thought was a disappointing season. With returning players like Kyle Hines and Ricky Hickman along with some impressive freshmen, the Spartans look to improve on a 12-19 record in 2005. Coach Mike Dement signed four letters of intent that should improve the Spartans team.

Guards Omar Jones and Mikko Koivisto and forwards Ben Stywall and Pete Brown. The quartet will join early period signee Kendall Toney. Both Hines and Hickman are coming off great seasons and off season accolades. earning honors from the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association’s All-State squads, earning first and second-team honors, respectively.

The team consists of NCAA Division I student-athletes from North Carolina colleges and universities. Nominees were submitted by North Carolina sports information professionals. NCCSIA members voted for the all-state teams.

Hines was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection by both the coaches and media. He also earned USBWA All-District honors. The Sicklerville, N.J., sophomore averaged 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks while shooting 62.2 percent (sixth in the nation) from the field. He ranked among the Southern Conference’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, blocks, steals and minutes.

Hines’ 578 points in 2005-06 rank as the second most in school history and most in Division I era. He has already broken UNCG’s career blocked shots record (190).

Hickman earned NCCSIA second-team all-state recognition for the second-straight year after averaging 18.7 points for UNCG, also topping the 500-point mark this season. A first-team all-league pick by Southern Conference coaches and second-team selection by the media, Hickman lead the league in steals (2.7) for the second-consecutive season.

Five keys to success this season:

1. They must play better and be more focused on the road. The Spartans were 1-13 on the road including 0-7 in the Southern Conference. If you want to have success in the Southern Conference or any conference, you must be focused on the road and play harder to take the crowd out of the game and get momentum on your side and the Spartans didn’t do that last year and will need to this year to be successful.

2. The Spartans must shoot better from the floor and 3 point line. Although the Spartans held their opponents to under 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent from the 3 point line, they only shot 44 percent from the floor and 32 percent from the 3 point line as a team. Solid defense keeps you in games but if you can’t make shots, it makes it tough to win especially on the road.

3. They must shoot a higher percentage at the free throw line. This is key especially when trying to get a victory on the road. If you can’t make free throws late in the game when you need them, makes it tough to win especially again on the road and especially shooting only 65 percent from the line.

4. The Spartans had far too many turnovers and not enough assist as a team. In order for the Spartans to have a balanced offense, they must do a better job passing the ball to those talented forwards and distributing better inside and outside on offense. The Spartans had only 407 assist and 507 turnovers while allowing opponents 430 assist to 504 turnovers. Again, the defense is solid but it becomes a wasted scenario when you don’t convert after getting a steal or turnover.

5. The Spartans must get better guard play and a MVP season from the “Double H boys”. Dwayne Johnson, Donald Moore, Greg Vlanzy and Kevin Oleksiak must step up, protect the basketball, run the floor and play solid defense. They must also knock down the baskets especially when they have open looks. The Spartans will also need Kyle Hines and Ricky Hickman to play huge throughout the season! in order for the Spartans to improve on a 2005 Coach Mike Dement and his staff would love to forget.

Looking at their schedule: With road games at Penn State, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Chattanooga, The College of Charleston, Hampton and North Carolina State and their regular home games versus Southern Conference opponents and ESPN Bracket buster games that are sure to be tough, the Spartans look to battle for an NCAA appearance and Southern Conference supremacy. If they can play smart and finish games, the 2006 season will be much improved then 2005.

Prediction: 13-17.

Head Coach: Mike Dement, 6th season (67-75); Overall: 260-243 in 18 seasons

Guilford CollegeGuilford College

The Guilford College Quakers fans and alumni should be excited about the 2006-07 season. After a 13-14 overall record last season that included a 10-8 record in the ODAC and with some key players returning, the Quakers have an opportunity to take bigger strides this season. Guilford earned its highest ODAC Tournament seed (4th) since joining the league in 1991.

The Quakers reached the tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season before falling to eventual champion Virginia Wesleyan, 72-69. The Marlins went on to win the NCAA Division III National Championship. Guilford expects 10 letter winners back for the 2006-07 season including four starters from last season. The Quakers also have stepped up their competition this season.

Coach Tom Palombo announced the schedule for the 2006-2007 season, which includes an exhibition game at Elon University, a trip to the Jimmy V Classic and a match-up with neighboring Greensboro College at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The Quakers open the season Nov. 4 with a scrimmage at Division I Elon, a regular Guilford rival when the teams were in the Carolinas Conference. The Phoenix, who reached the semifinals of the 2006 Southern Conference Tournament, finished 15-14 last season. Elon defeated the Quakers, 87-63, in a regular-season contest last year.Guilford travels to Salem, Va., Nov. 18 and 19 for the Jimmy V Classic, hosted by Roanoke College.

The Quakers match up against Robert Morris College and the University of the South. Robert Morris, which won the 2006 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament title, finished with a 31-3 record. The Eagles reached the Fab Four of the 2006 NAIA Tournament for the second year in a row.

The only concern for Guilford College is their youth and size. The Quakers return only two seniors, four juniors and four sophomores. The Quakers have 16 freshmen on the roster. They are also a guard driven team which means they will have to use their speed to compensate for their lack of size and strength in size which also plays well for the Quakers because they like to press on defense and run on offense.

Five keys to success this season:

1. The Quakers must shoot a higher percentage from the floor and free throw line. The Quakers only shot 45 percent from the floor and 67 percent from the free throw line. The Quakers did a good job in holding their opponents shooting percentage down, but like other school’s we’ve mentioned that do not shoot the ball well, it’s hard to win if you can’t put the ball in the basket which is why fast break points will be key for the Quakers.

2. The Quakers must take care of the basketball. In 2005, the Quakers averaged over 18 turnovers per game compared to 16 by their opponents. It’s crucial for Guilford College take care of the basketball because their limited ability to get the ball inside for points. They rely a lot on outside perimeter play and fast break points and you can’t score if you continually turn the ball over. Guard play is key, passing the ball is key and minimal mistakes is vital to success for the Quakers. They also allow over 10 steals per game which is a clear sign of being careless with the basketball and that’s something that just can’t happen if they want to win an improve in 2006.

3. The Quakers must play a complete game. In many games, the Quakers were either leading or were within striking distance of the lead at halftime and came out in the second half lacking the same intensity and aggressiveness they displayed in the first. The Quakers must play a complete game on offense and defense especially on the road where the crowd is against you and the opponent feeds off of the crowd. They must play smart and be poised and take care of the basketball in order to finish

4. Although they are a guard driven team and they are somewhat undersized, they must get to the basket to create fouls on the opponent and get to the free throw line. Ben Strong lead the team in 2005 in free throw attempts at over 6 per game and the next person is Jordan Snipes at less than 4 per game. The Guilford College guards must do a better job with dribb! le penetration to create their own shot and/or getting inside for easy layups and creating fouls on their opponents to get to the free throw line. When and if the Quakers do get to the free stripe, they must capitalize by making a better percentage of free throws to be successful.

5. The Quakers few upperclassmen must show the leadership and experience to the many freshmen that are on the roster. They must calm the team in tough situations and be the difference on offense and defense when the game is on the line. Ray Edmond, Caleb Kimbrough, Jordan Snipes, Eric Belkoski and ALL ODAC Player Ben Strong are the leaders that will have the vaunted task of improving from last year’s tough losses to this year’s promise in 2006. Coach Tom Palombo and his staff have to try and put his young and talented team in the right positions to win and hope the players will take the ball and finish the job. >

Looking at their schedule: With road games at Robert Morris and regular ODAC games at Hampden-Sydney, Methodist, Averett, Randolph-Macon and last year’s ODAC tournament champion Virginia Wesleyan, the Quakers will have a tough time trying to surpass the 13 wins from last year. Playing the Phoenix of Elon in an exhibition game at Elon the first game of the year is a good barometer of how good the Quakers will be and can be and should give them an opportunity to play and showcase many of those talented freshmen. It’s going to take those freshmen and all of the Quakers on the Roster to not only improve on the 13 wins but to have a winning season and go far into the ODAC tournament this season.

Prediction: 12-12.

Head Coach: Tom Palombo, 4th season (43-37); Overall: 286-154 in 16 seasons .