Local Hoops Preview

Posted on November 06, 2007

By Mathew Schlissel

Coppin State Eagles

MEN


Tywain McKee
(Coppin State Athletics)

Coach: Ron "Fang" Mitchell (342-281, 21 seasons)
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic
Last Year: 12-20 (9-9 MEAC)

The Coppin State Eagles and their head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell are not used to being the underdog in their own conference, but that's the role they are going to have to play this season. The Eagles bring back three starters, but are expected to once again finish eighth in the MEAC preseason poll.

Fortunately "Fang's Gang" still has its best player -- senior guard Tywain McKee. The 6-foot-2 point guard led the team in scoring with 17.4 points per game and assists with 99 last season. McKee was named to the preseason All-MEAC first team and the Mid-Major All-America team.

Coppin's main problem last season was on the boards as an undersized Eagles team was outrebounded by 1.2 per game. This season, the Eagles still lack size, but they do bring back leading rebounder 6-foot-7 Robert Pressey (4.8 rebounds per game), who started 10 games last year. They'll also need more production from 6-foot-7 junior Brian Chestnut, who started 23 games last year.

They have some frontcourt help with the addition of junior A'Daeron Duncan, out of Merced Junior College in California. Duncan averaged 15 points per game and eight rebounds last season. McKee could also use some scoring help and he may get it this season as the Eagles have added a junior college player who may add some punch. At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, junior guard Chuka Iloegbu is a versatile player who can play guard or some small forward. Senior forward Antwan Harrison, averaged 9.2 points per game last season and 2.9 rebounds per game last season for the Eagles.

Coppin's non-conference schedule is one of the toughest in the nation. They'll face the likes of Kent State, Xavier, Hawaii, Arizona State, Ohio State, Dayton, Marquette, Indiana and Missouri on the road.

WOMEN

Coach: Derek Brown (134-94, eight seasons)
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic
Last year: 25-8 (18-0 MEAC)

Derek Brown's Coppin State Eagles turned a negative into a positive last season. Despite going undefeated in the MEAC regular season, they wound up losing to Morgan State in the semifinals in overtime, which cost them a repeat trip to the NCAA Tournament and ended a 49-game MEAC winning streak. The Eagles went to the women's National Invitation Tournament and defeated St. Joseph’s in the opening round to become the first MEAC team to win a postseason game.

This season, the Eagles are favored to return to the postseason mostly due to three returning starters from a 25-8 team. Senior Rashida Suber, a 5-foot-8 wing guard, is the choice to repeat as preseason MEAC Player of the Year as selected by the conference head coaches and sports information directors. Suber averaged 18.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while leading the conference in three-point field goals made.

This is not a one-woman show as the Eagles also have 5-foot-6 senior guard Shalamar Oakley, who was second on the team in scoring at 12 points per game and led the team in assists with 3.3 per game. She was also a defensive presence, averaging over two steals per game. There is some concern in the frontcourt with the graduation of Tamieka Noel and Talia Sutton, the team's top two rebounders. Junior forward Danielle Anders and junior center Whitney Cunningham are capable of stepping up with increased minutes. Junior center Tanezia Harden is the team's most experienced frontcourt player. She started 29 of 30 games last season and averaged 8.1 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Eagles will travel nearly as much as the men, heading out to the Central Florida Tournament, the preseason Women's National Invitational Championship in Chapel Hill, N.C. to face the Tar Heels and Syracuse as well as the New Mexico Tournament. The Eagles will also face Louisville and Pepperdine as part of their non-conference home schedule.

Morgan State Bears

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Head coach: Todd Bozeman (13-18, two seasons)
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic
Last year: 13-18 (10-8 MEAC)

Todd Bozeman has the Morgan State program on the right track after finishing 10-8 last season (tied for the third) in the MEAC in just his first season at the helm. But what can the former California coach do once he starts getting his own players?

Morgan State will feature four starters from last season including a very talented backcourt.

Senior guard Jamar Smith is the leading returning scorer, having averaged 12.6 points per game in just 23.8 minutes per game last season, while shooting 50.2 percent from the field. Sophomore Reggie Holmes (6-foot-4, 180 pounds), out of St. Frances High School, returns at the wing. Holmes averaged nine points per game last season in just 17.6 minutes per game.

One player to watch this season is junior Marquise Kately, who transferred from California and averaged 9.3 points per game as a sophomore with the Golden Bears. At the point, Bozeman added 5-foot-9 juco transfer Jermaine Bolden, who played at South Plains Community College in Texas and is also a Baltimore native.

Senior Boubacar Coly returns to man the middle. He will need some help as Bozeman has several newcomers who can provide size, including 6-foot-9 sophomore Rodney Stokes, out of Old Mill High School, who sat out last season as a non-qualifier. Freshman Kevin Thompson (6-foot-8, 235 pounds), out of Walbrook High School, has the size and strength to make an impact right away.

Morgan State faces the likes of Miami and Seton Hall on the road and will play local rivals UMBC on the road and the University of Maryland in College Park.

WOMEN

Head coach: Donald Beasley (23-36, three years)
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic
Last year: 18-13 (11-7 MEAC)

Donald Beasley took over the Morgan State women's basketball program in the 2005-06 season and went 5-23. Beasley then transformed his Bears into winners in just his second season as Morgan went 11-7 in the MEAC and went to the conference finals last season at the conference tournament, upsetting heavily favored Coppin State to get there.

Sophomore point guard Corin Adams returns, and she led the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game last season. She also led the team with 70 steals and paced the Bears with 89 assists. The Bears will need to replace second-leading scorer, wing guard Whitney Johnson (12.3 points per game) who graduated. That means senior wing Shalane Price, at 5-foot-9, will have to increase her production. Price averaged 7.2 points per game last season and 4.7 rebounds per game in 24 starts.

Up front, when Beasley wants to go big, he can turn to 6-foot-4 senior center Britney Griffin, who averaged 5.2 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and finished second on the team with 16 blocks. At the other post spot, the Bears will look to several players to get inside production. Sophomore Phylicia Jones showed some potential last season averaging 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest off the bench.

Jasmine Sellers, a junior college transfer from Wabash Valley Community College, will compete for time up front. Beasley also recruited two freshmen from St. Louis -- Theresa Davis and Brittany Dodson.

Morgan State's schedule features two tournaments in Virginia, the Longwood and Virginia Commonwealth University Tournaments. They will also face local schools Mount St. Mary's and American.

Loyola Greyhounds

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Head coach: Jimmy Patsos (39-48, four seasons)
Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic
Last year: 18-13 (12-6 MAAC)

Expectations are as high as they've ever been on the Loyola College campus. Last season, the Greyhounds won the most games since the 1970-71 team won posted a 19-7 mark. This year's team could easily surpass those totals as Jimmy Patsos hopes four returning starters will help him get his third straight winning season.

When Andre Collins graduated after averaging 26.1 points per game in 2005-06, everybody wondered who would pick up the slack. That slack was easily picked up by Providence transfer Gerald Brown, who averaged 22.2 points per game along with five rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest. The Frederick Douglass High School graduate is now a senior wing who not only led the team in scoring, but also led the MAAC in steals, but also ranked among the conference leaders in eight of 13 categories.

Junior guard Marquis Sullivan, who was one of the best sharpshooters in the league last season, returns for the Greyhounds. Sullivan finished second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game and made the All-MAAC third team.

At point guard, sophomore Brett Harvey had a solid freshman season, averaging 7.4 points per game and a team-leading 4.2 assists per game. He'll be pushed for time by junior transfer Joe Miles, who averaged 10.3 points and handed out 106 assists in two seasons at Marshall. Another guard who could figure in the picture is 5-foot-11 point guard Brian Rudolph.

Up front Loyola brings back senior Michael Tuck, a versatile player who could start or come off the bench. Tuck averaged 9.1 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game. Senior Notre Dame transfer Omari Isreal made an instant impact last season in just one semester, averaging 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Loyola will open at Towson on Friday and will also face the likes of Seton Hall, Drexel, Dayton, Illinois and Kansas.

WOMEN

Head coach: Joe Logan (38-22, three seasons)
Conference: Metro Atlantic Athletic
Last year: 18-12 (12-6 MAAC)

Coaches hate to hear about transition seasons, but Loyola head coach Joe Logan will have his work cut out for him to replace several key members of the 18-12 Loyola women's college basketball team. Logan must replace three starters highlighted by leading scorer Jill Glessner, who led the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game. Fortunately Logan has some talent returning headed by senior Vika Sholokhova, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Pittsburgh who came off the bench last season after sitting out the first semester. The center from Russia averaged 11.3 points per game and led the team in rebounds with 7.5.

Senior Meghan Wood adds experience to the frontcourt. Wood finished fourth on the team in scoring last year at 8.8 points per game, while finishing second in rebounds at 6.6 per game. Sophomore Kaitlin Grant will likely get increased minutes this season after a solid freshman campaign. Grant, who started 15 games last season and averaged 14.6 minutes per game, averaged 4.9 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game.

In the backcourt, Loyola will look to replace Glessner's production, which will likely be the key to the season. Senior point guard Tynisha Davis, who averaged 5.2 points per game last season, gives the team experience and quickness. Sophomore Erica DiClemente, who made the All-MAAC Rookie team, will look to take her game to the next level and will be counted on for more production this season. DiClemente averaged 5.9 points per game in six starts, while playing 14.9 minutes per game.

Loyola's schedule has a few non-conference bumps in the road, taking on Maryland in College Park along with Villanova, La Salle, Drexel and local rivals Towson and UMBC.

Navy Midshipmen

MEN

Head Coach: Billy Lange (34-53, three seasons)
Conference: Patriot League
Last year: 14-16 (4-10 Patriot League)

The bad news for Navy head coach Billy Lange is that he loses three starters. The good news for Lange is that he still has his leading scorer, senior Greg Sprink, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound small forward who added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. Last season he finished second in the Patriot League in scoring at 16.9 points per game and also averaged 4.8 rebounds. Also returning is junior wing guard Kaleo Kina, who averaged 9.2 points per game and a team-high 2.7 assists per game.

The biggest question in the backcourt is at the point guard position. Sophomore Chris Harris, who averaged 3.5 points per game and Derek Young, who saw limited time last season, will get a chance to play extensive minutes. Up front, Lange has high hopes for sophomore Scott Brooks, an explosive leaper, who played power forward in high school. Junior Adam Teague has the most experience of the returners in the post and should start. Last season he averaged 7.4 points and three rebounds per game. Sophomore T.J. Topercer showed some potential last season, especially as a perimeter shooting big man. He averaged 3.6 points per game last year and made 41 percent of his three-point attempts.

Junior Brian Richards saw limited action after being called up from the JV midway through last season and should see an expanded role this year. Junior Bryce Brigham can supply perimeter shooting off the bench. He averaged 3.7 points per game as a sophomore.

The Navy schedule is highlighted by a trip to the Palestra in Philadelphia, where the Midshipmen face Seton Hall and Virginia or University of Pennsylvania. They'll also travel to the Alamodome to take on Texas San Antonio. They will also take on locals Towson and Mount St. Mary's in back-to-back games.

WOMEN

Head Coach: Tom Marryott (50-66, five seasons)
Conference: Patriot League
Last year: 12-17 (6-8 Patriot League)

Coach Tom Marryott will bring back just one starter in his fifth season and will have one of the youngest teams in the nation. His 14-player roster consists of one senior, four juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen.

Kalen Kropa, a 5-foot-8 junior, is the only returning starter, averaging 3.5 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and a team-leading 4.8 assists per game. Joining Kropa in the backcourt will be senior Ali Currier, who will serve as team captain and is known for her defensive toughness. Junior Whitney Davidson, who averaged 2.3 points per game last season, is poised for a breakout season with more playing time. Emily Cordle also will battle for time at wing guard. Two seasons ago Cordle set the freshman class record for three-point field goal percentage.

In the frontcourt, the Mids have to replace four quality players in the rotation, including Kate Hobbs, who averaged 10 points per game and 6.8 rebounds. Sophomore center Kelly Altschul and sophomore forward Morgan Hill played well in limited time last season and will be expected to increase their production this season.

The Mids’ schedule will feature a trip to Colorado State and games against Rice, Georgetown and a local game against UMBC.

Towson Tigers

MEN

Head Coach: Pat Kennedy (32-57, four seasons)
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
Last year: 15-17 (8-10 CAA)

"Pat's Cats" are in a rebuilding mode this season as they try to replace star guard Gary Neal, who averaged 25.3 points per game and center Dennard Abraham, who averaged 11.2 points per game and led the team in rebounds at 6.3 per game.

Kennedy also got bad news right before practice started when senior forward Tommy Breaux had to undergo foot surgery. The good news is that the 6-foot-9 Breaux, who broke his foot while playing wide receiver for the Towson football team, could be back as early as mid-December.

Without Breaux, the Tigers are thin up front. Junior transfer Junior Hairston, an athletic 6-foot-8 forward, is eligible after sitting out last season. Junior forward Tony Durant is another transfer ... with a famous last name. His younger brother Kevin was the second pick of the 2007 NBA Draft and now plays with the Seattle Supersonics.

Towson is a little deeper in the backcourt, but once again the Tigers will have to wait until mid-December until they become complete. Sophomore Josh Thornton has to sit out the first semester. Senior C.C. Williams is the team's top returning player. Williams played distributor last season, averaging six points per game and a team-leading 4.1 assists per game. Junior transfer Vernon Carr will likely man the point. Carr averaged 15 points per game and six assists as a sophomore at Pensacola and is known more as a distributor.

At the wing, sophomore Rodney Spruill will be counted on to make a major step up from last season, in which he averaged 3.7 points per game. Senior Jonathan Pease, who started most of last season averaging 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds, provides hustle and athleticism.

Towson will participate in the ESPNU Bracketbusters in February at home and will also face Auburn, Vermont, Samford and Temple as non-conference road games. The Tigers will face local rivals Loyola at home and Navy on the road.

WOMEN

Head Coach: Joe Mathews (56-115, seven seasons)
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
Last year: 17-12 (8-10 CAA)

The Tigers bring back four starters from a 17-12 team that finished seventh in the CAA. The 17 wins for Towson was a program record for most regular season victories and this season, Joe Mathews would like to get to the magical 20-win mark.

Towson will feature last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Shanae Baker-Brice, who made the CAA All-Rookie team last season and is one of the league's most exciting players. She averaged 13.7 points per game and was second on the team with 76 steals, while adding 91 assists. Baker-Brice shared the point guard duties last season with Alis Freeman and will likely do so again. Freeman was not 100 percent last season, and it showed as she averaged just 5.1 points per game, shooting 23.4 percent from the floor and 17 percent from beyond three-point territory. At the third guard spot, Towson has two options and two seniors. Jamell Beasley is the team's best returning perimeter shooter, while Holly Mahan led the team in rebounding last season at 7.4 rebounds per game.

The Tigers signed three freshman guards and all three should help improve the team's shooting. The most intriguing prospect is Simona Petronyte, who played her high school ball at Holy Cross in Virginia and.

Up front, Towson needs a big year from sophomore Kandace Davis. Davis started 16 of the final 18 games last year, ranked 10th in the CAA in blocks (23) and finished second on the team in rebounding with 5.1 per game in just 21.4 minutes per game. The most likely starter at center will be freshman Dovile Miliauskaite, who played with Petronyte at Holy Cross, averaging 16 points per game.

Towson's schedule includes a trip to New Mexico to play Southern and possibly the Lobos as well as home games against UMBC, Georgetown, N.C. Central and Loyola.

UMBC Retrievers

MEN


Jay Greene
(UMBC Athletics)

Head Coach: Randy Monroe (33-57, four seasons)
Conference: America East
Last year: 12-19 (7-9 AEC)

Randy Monroe's squads have shown steady but incremental improvements in his first three seasons at the helm of UMBC. This season, many experts expect the Retrievers to make a major jump from competitive to power of the America East. UMBC brings back only two starters, but everyone remains optimistic. Despite losing a quality perimeter defender in Chris Pugh, overachieving forward Mike Housman and wing Thomas Young, Retrieverland is excited about three transfers.

Senior guard Ray Barbosa, a long-range bomber, and athletic senior forward Cavell Johnson bring their talent from Harrisburg where they played three seasons for James Madison. Barbosa scored 1,013 points in three seasons and will combine with senior Brian Hodges to give the Retrievers some serious perimeter shooting.

Handling the point guard duties this season will be speedy junior guard Jay Greene, who earned All-Tournament honors in UMBC's run to the America East semifinal last season. Greene led the team and league in assists per game at 5.3 and posted the third highest single-season assist total in school history with 159.

The Retrievers have been getting improved guard play in their time in the America East, but they have lacked that impact player up front. Another transfer who enters the fold in the frontcourt is former Coppin State Eagle Darryl Proctor, an outstanding rebounder, who averaged 7.4 rebounds per contest in two seasons at Coppin State. He has two more seasons of eligibility. At center, Monroe is looking for improvements from sophomore Justin Fry, who blocked 36 shots to set a freshman school record. Fry averaged 5.6 points per game and 2.6 rebounds. Juniors Uwem Eshietedoho and Tyler Massey provide size off the bench.

UMBC will travel to West Virginia, Wichita State and Ohio State and will face George Washington at home.

WOMEN

Head Coach: Phil Stern (57-90, six seasons)
Conference: America East
Last year: 16-17 (6-10 AEC)

UMBC basketball has endured seasons in Division I being an Independent, the final days of the now-defunct East Coast Conference, the Big South, the Northeast Conference and now the America East. Through the good and the bad, the program has never been able to catch a break and find the right team in men's or women's basketball that was ready to get hot in a tournament and take it to the next level. Last year that next level was an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Retrievers who won the America East Tournament last season, despite finishing 6-10 in the conference.

This year, the Retrievers lose three starters including All-AEC second team forward Sharri Rohde. Also returning is senior guard Kristin Drabyn, who averaged 9.6 points per game and also connected on 68 three-point field goals. Shooting three-pointers as part of the "Princeton" offense is a key element on Phil Stern's Retrievers. Senior guard Morgan Hatten also has experience in the offense.

Stern now has to find a way to replace three starters who averaged a combined 35 points per game and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy, who averaged 4.5 points per game, is a top candidate to fill in for one of the departed starters. Stern also has returning junior center MacKenzie Butler, who started six games last year, but was hampered by knee problems last year and missed 10 games.

Stern added five freshmen and one junior college transfer -- junior guard Chantay Frazier. Freshmen Chrissy Robinson and Jenny Lidgren of Stockholm, Sweden, will compete for minutes in the post.

The Retrievers have a home schedule that features games against Northern Iowa, George Washington and local foe Mount St. Mary's. On the road they'll take on Maryland, Navy, Towson, Loyola and Coppin State.

Issue 2.45: November 8, 2007

next up:

There's No Changing Gary

November 06, 2007

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