So this blog has a few haters out there. For them, this clip is for you: For the Haters Only (NSFW language)
Now that we have that out of the way, on to the new season!
First on the slate is Charleston Southern, who are slated to win the Southern Division of the Big South Conference. Personally I think that’s a step above the California Penal League, but since the Niners are coming off a 13-17 season, there’s little room for mockery. The Buccaneers, who are led by Barclay Radebaugh (that name screams either inbreeding or trust fund, really having a hard time choosing), boast a squad featuring two-preseason All-Big South selections in Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. The two guards despite being a little undersized at 5’8 and 6’1 respectively, managed to average just north of 26 ppg, forming the core of a potent back court which figures to be the Buccaneers’ strength. Strong perimeter defense by the Niners, particularly likely starters Pierria’ Henry (preseason A-10 All-Defensive team) and Terrence Williams, will be important if the Niners hope to win with rumors of suspensions and injuries swirling (more on that later).
As strong as the Buccaneers are in the backcourt, they are equally weak in the front court with the graduation of All Big South and DPOY Kelvin Martin. With Martin’s graduation, CSU loses their leading scorer (15 ppg) and rebounder (9 rpg). With no clear heir apparent to anchor the backcourt, CSU will have to look for rebounding and post-scoring by committee. Senior Mathiang Muo (9.8 ppg last season) will likely lead the undersized front court in scoring and the Buccaneers will hope for contributions from newcomer Allie Fullah and Sophomores Paul Gombwer and Greg Dorleus, the latter being the only CSU player over 6’7.
The Niners will counter with a squad that has a blend of experience and youth, and at least from a positional standpoint, depth. That depth may be challenged if unconfirmed rumors of Chris Braswell being suspended are true. Braswell was head-and-shoulders the best player on the squad last year and is expected to lead a team hoping to compete in the A10 this season. Also potentially inactive are Jr. DeMario Mayfield and Sr. JT Thompson, both of whom are dealing with injuries. Mayfield per his twitter was cleared to resume practice earlier this week; however, his ankle may not be 100% and thus the team may wish to hold him out for better conditioning and a complete recovery. JT Thompson on the other hand is dealing with the lasting effects of successive season-ending ACL tears.
So assuming the worst case scenario that the Niners will be down three upperclassman (and remember, none of this is confirmed… we’d love to be “wrong” even though we’re not saying they’re out), the Niners will likely look to their defense to generate offense. Points off turnovers and transition baskets will be critical for a team that will likely struggle to score in the half court with the absence of Braswell and Mayfield. Fortunately for the Niners, the depth in the front court may mitigate offensive struggles with superior rebounding, as athletic forwards like Darion Clark and Willie Clayton could control the glass against the undersized Buccaneers. Whatever the situation tonight, Niner faithful will expect a win and rightfully so. Coach Alan Major will have to do a lot of that this season to stem calls for his ouster should the Niners against struggle in a pivotal season. Major has his players, now it’s time to win with them.
Prediction 1: Niners 65 – Buccaneers 59 -assumes no Braswell
Prediction 2: Niners 76 – Buccaneers 61 -assumes Braswell plays