Monday, September 26, 2011

2011-2012 Top 50 Countdown: Nos. 50-46

Over the coming weeks, we will be counting down our Top 50 teams in the country. Teams 26-50 will be posted in groups of five, while we will count backwards from No. 25 to the No. 1 team in the country. You can find a complete schedule of our 2011-2012 Season Preview coverage here. To browse through the rest of the Top 50, click here.

50. Weber State Wildcats:

Last Season: 18-14, 11-5 (Big Sky)

Head Coach: Randy Rahe

Key Losses: Lindsay Hughey, Trevor Morris

New Additions: Gelaun Wainwright, Shai Fields, Logan Foster, Mike Brown, Ryan Van Pelt, James Hajek, Davion Berry

Projected Lineup:

- G: Damian Lillard, Jr.
- G: Scott Bamforth, Jr.
- F: Kyle Bullinger, Sr.
- F: Byron Fulton, So.
- F: Darin Mahoney, Sr.
- Bench: Jordan Richardson, So.; Kyle Tresnak, So.; Gelain Wainwright, Fr.

Outlook: The 2010-2011 season was a surprisingly successful one for the Wildcats. They lost star guard Damian Lillard to a broken foot nine games into the season and still managed to finish third in the Big Sky and make the CBI. That success was largely due to the play of Scott Bamforth, a junior sharpshooter -- he shot 55.1% from three in league play -- that will be a terrific compliment to Lillard in the back court this season, and senior Kyle Bullinger, a face-up four with three-point range. With Lillard back, the graduation of Lindsay Hughey won't hurt as much, but replacing Trevor Morris could be an issue. He was a big, physical presence in the paint. Look for Kyle Tresnak to fill his role in the paint. The x-factor may end up being Byron Fulton, a 6'7" sophomore and reigning Big Sky Freshman of the Year. Fulton averaged 7.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg while shooting 48% from beyond the arc as sixth-man. He should move into the starting lineup this season. With Montana and Northern Colorado both losing key pieces, Weber State should be the favorite to win the conference.

49. Long Beach State 49ers:

Last Season: 22-12, 14-2 (Big West)

Head Coach: Dan Monson

Key Losses: Greg Plater, Tristan Wilson

New Additions: Michael Caffey, Shaquille Hunter, Kris Gulley

Projected Lineup:

- G: Casper Ware, Sr.
- G: Shaquille Hill, Fr.
- G: Larry Anderson, Sr.
- F: Eugene Phelps, Sr.
- F: TJ Robinson, Sr.
- Bench: Edis Dervisevic, Sr.; Michael Caffey, Fr.; Kris Gulley, So.

Outlook: The good news for Dan Monson's club is that he returns four senior starters, three of whom were named all-Big West, from a team that won their league by four games. Casper Ware is a high-scoring, playmaking point guard complemented well by Larry Anderson, a 6'5" scoring guard. TJ Robinson averaged a double-double last season and is joined by Eugene Phelps on the front line. Those four have played together for four years. The bad news is that LBSU was not a deep team last season, and they lost the other three members of their rotation. The biggest loss is Greg Plater, who was the 49ers' designated shooter last season. Shaquille Hunter, a high-scoring and highly-touted freshman, might be able fill that void. Michael Caffey, a talented freshman point guard, will also contribute minutes. Edis Dervisevic should be able to help in the post, as should sophomore JuCo transfer Kris Gulley. The bottom line is that LBSU will go as far as their four main guys carry them.

48. Fairfield Stags:

Last Season: 25-8, 15-3 (MAAC)

Head Coach: Sydney Johnson

Key Losses: Warren Edney, Yorel Hawkins, Ed Cooley

New Additions: Rakim Sanders, Desmond Wade, Sydney Johnson, Adam Jones, Vince Van Ness

Projected Lineup:

- G: Derek Needham, Jr.
- G: Colin Nickerson, Jr.
- F: Rakim Sanders, Sr.
- F: Maurice Barrow, So.
- C: Ryan Olander, Sr.
- Bench: Desmond Wade, Jr.; Jamel Fields, So.; Keith Matthews, So.; Adam Jones, Fr.; Vincent Van Ness, Fr.

Outlook: Fairfield is in the middle of a change in regime, as former head coach Ed Cooley, who is now coaching at Providence, was replaced by Sydney Johnson. Cooley certainly didn't leave the cupboard empty. Fairfield is coming off of a season where they won a school-record 25 games and return four starters and most of the rotation from that team while adding two impact transfers. Junior point guard Derek Needham is one of the best players in the conference, and he'll be joined on the perimeter by fellow junior Colin Nickerson, sophomore Jamel Fields and Houston transfer Desmond Wade. Even with that much talent on the perimeter, the strength of this team will be up front. Ryan Olander averaged double figures as a junior and will be back to provide a presence in the paint. Sophomore Maurice Barrow made the all-freshmen team and could be primed for a big season. The x-factor will end up being Rakim Sanders. Sanders averaged double figures in his three years at Boston College before transferring. The Stags will battle it out with Iona for the MAAC title this season.

47. Marshall Thundering Herd:

Last Season: 22-12, 9-7 (C-USA)

Head Coach: Tom Herrion

Key Losses: Tirrell Baines, Johnny Thomas

New Additions: Jamir Hanner, DeVince Boykins, Chris Martin, Robert Goff, Dennis Tinnon, Justin Coleman, Yaos Mbao

Projected Lineup:

- G: Damier Pitts, Sr.
- G: DeAndre Kane, So.
- G: Shaquille Johnson, Sr.
- F: Dago Pena, Sr.
- C: Nigel Spikes, Jr.
- Bench: Justin Coleman, Fr.; Yaos Mbao, So.; DeVince Boykins, Fr.; Jamir Hanner, Fr.; Chris Martin, Jr.

Outlook: Quite a bit is expected out of Marshall this season. After winning 22 games a season ago, the Thundering Herd lose just two seniors and bring in a loaded class of freshmen and transfers. It starts, however, with the back court. Senior Damier Pitts is one of the best point guards in the conference while shooting guard DeAndre Kane, only a sophomore, has a chance to be Player of the Year in Conference USA by the time he graduates. Nigel Spikes will provide size in the paint while both Dago Pena and Shaquille Johnson return and will provide experience. Tom Herrion has an impressive influx of talent, as well. Yaos Mbao, a 7'2" Marquette transfer, should provide size inside. Justin Coleman, who was ruled academically ineligible at Louisville, also joins the program. Freshmen DeVince Boykins and Jamir Hanner and JuCo transfers Chris Martin and Robert Goff should also see some minutes. The Thundering Herd have enough talent to be Memphis' strongest contender in Conference USA.

46. Virginia:

Last Season: 16-15, 7-9 (ACC)

Head Coach: Tony Bennett

Key Losses: Mustapha Farrakhan

New Additions: James Johnson, Malcolm Brogdon, Paul Jesperson, Darion Atkins

Projected Lineup:

- G: Sammy Zeglinski, Jr.
- G: KT Harrell, So.
- F: Joe Harris, So.
- F: Mike Scott, Sr.
- C: Assane Sene, Sr.
- Bench: Paul Jesperson, Fr.; James Johnson, Fr.; Malcolm Brogdon, Fr.; Jontel Evans, Jr.

Outlook: Despite losing Mustapha Farrakhan, who became the Cav's leader after Mike Scott went down with a season ending injury, Virginia will be a sleeper in the ACC this season. The biggest reason? The return of Scott, who averaged a double-double before seeing his season come to an end. He was granted a medical redshirt and will once again anchor the front line. Another reason is the injuries that Scott and Sammy Zeglinski sustained. With those two out, freshmen guards KT Harrell and Joe Harris and center Assane Sene got a chance to play a ton of minutes in an important role, which is invaluable experience. Throw in a talented group of freshmen -- Paul Jesperson, Malcolm Brogdon, James Johnson (who redshirted last year) -- and junior Jontel Evans, and this is as deep of a roster has Virginia has had since the days of Sean Singletary. If the pieces come together, the Cavs could be looking at double-figure wins in ACC play.


Jon said...

For Weber don't forget about Frank Otis... he is a big man, transfer from SMU that will likely see some good minutes. He will be a factor in the frontcourt.

Anonymous said...

weber st will likely be the #1 3-pt shooting team in america and have one of the top backcourts in the West.

Anonymous said...

I think we will discover St. Mary's has the best backcourt in the west. Dellavedova and Holt present a real problem for opposing teams.

Anonymous said...

still think WCC will boast best backcourts in west with santa clara or possibly saint sary's college. It will be very interesting to see who wins that title...

is that the frank otis from oakland high school and state championship?

Anonymous said...

yes, frank otis from oakland.

Weber also had damian lillard, oakland high, davion berry, hayward and jordan richardson, tracy, CA.

Weber St will play at St Mary's so we will see the guards head to head early in the season.

Lillard a 1st rd prospect, Bamforth, top 3-pt shooter in the country vs what ever you can tell me about St Mary's.

Anonymous said...

smc has a player on australias national team. holt was all freshamn team. jordy page returns from injury and paul mccoy was runner up for national freshman of the year 2 years ago... not sure if that helps.. oh and rob jones a 1st team all conference performer