Tuesday, December 25, 2007

SoCon South Division

With the conference season about to begin in earnest, I have compiled some short notes on every member of the SoCon and their season thus far. I will publish an entry or two on every team leading up to Davidson's Jan. 3 game with Georgia Southern. I will start with the South Division in this post.

Georgia Southern

The Eagles are currently 8-2 with a perfect 2-0 mark in the Southern Conference. Their conference victories came at Furman and hosting Appalachian State.

The Eagles' biggest out-of-conference win of the season came against Alabama-Birmingham. Georgia Southern held UAB scoreless for four-plus minutes down the stretch as they turned a four-point deficit into a seven-point lead. The Eagles hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final minutes to pull out a two-point victory.

Georgia Southern finished last season in the bottom half of the conference with a 7-11 league record including an overtime loss at The Citadel, 74-69. They lost to the College of Charleston in their first game of the conference tournament.

Although the Eagles lost Donte Gennie and his 16.2 points per game, they returned 6-8 forward Louis Graham and their floor general Dwayne Foreman. This season, Graham is in the top 10 in the conference for both scoring and rebounding while Foreman has averaged 6.2 assists per game (second in the conference behind Davidson's Jason Richards).

Davidson plays the streaking Eagles at odd times during the conference slate: during Christmas Break on Jan. 3, and at the beginning of Spring Break on March 1.

Last season, Davidson trailed GSU in Statesboro by nine points at halftime. However, Jason Richards scored a career-high 32 points including four three-pointers and twelve free throws to give Davidson a 101-92 victory. GSU's Graham scored 26 points while Foreman dished out a game-high 11 assists. Davidson's Thomas Sander hit three three-pointers in that game. The 6-8 forward has only hit four threes in the entirety of the 2007-2008 season.


The Wofford Terriers have surprised a few people around the Southern Conference with their 7-4 start and one-point victory over North Division rival UNC-Greensboro. Wofford now stands third in the conference with a 1-1 record after dropping a road game at Elon.

The Terriers responded by defeating the Purdue Boilermakers and winning the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic by besting Texas Southern and Bethune-Cookman.

This Terrier season comes in true form as Wofford continues to be the Southern Conference's most inconsistent squad. Last year, the Terriers knocked off Cincinnati and barely lost to College of Charleston before going 5-13 in the conference with a loss at The Citadel.

Their fortunes have largely been determined by the play of their two stellar guards: Shane Nichols and Drew Gibson. Both players are incredible outside shooters, but they have had very little help from their teammates in the past, and the Terriers usually fall when they are held under 15-20 points apiece. Throughout their careers, both players have missed games due to injury, and Nichols' 15.3 ppg this season is not registered among the conferences' leaders because he has only played in six games.

The Terriers seem to be a different team when playing in tiny Ben Johnson Arena on their campus in Spartanburg. Wofford is 4-0 at home this season and they went 7-5 at home last year with near misses against Davidson (83-78), Western Carolina (81-75), and The Citadel (74-71). In the last seven years, Wofford has held an average winning margin of 7.8 over Davidson with a 4-2 record at Ben Johnson Arena. Davidson will travel to Spartanburg on Jan. 12, the Saturday before students return to campus from their holiday break.

College of Charleston

The College of Charleston Cougars will wrap up their last holiday set of games in the old John Kresse Arena on December 29 and 30 when they host JMU, S.C. State and Mercer in the "Jim 'N Nick's Cougar Classic." The Cougars have come perilously close to knocking off two BCS powers, losing to Florida State and South Carolina by a combined eight points. They are now 4-6 with a 1-1 record in the conference (their sole loss came at Chattanooga, 86-70).

The defending conference runners-up, the Cougars have seen increased production from point guard Tony White Jr. who currently leads the team with 13.8 ppg and 3.1 apg. Last year, White backed up all-conference standout Dontaye Draper who completed his eligibility last spring. Combining Draper's absence with the off-season defection of upper-class forward Josh Jackson, College of Charleston's Bobby Cremins has had to look to his incoming players to make an impact.

Andrew Goudelock has averaged 12 points off the bench while shooting a team-best 44% from the field. His immediate impact has helped to overcome the slow start from returning letterman Marcus Hammond. The junior averaged over 7 points a game last year as a starting guard, but he is only shooting 30% from the field and scoring 5 ppg this season.

Davidson has had College of Charleston's number over the last few years. The Wildcats won all three matchups last year and are a collective 8-1 against CofC over the last four seasons. Out of those eight victories, three of them came in thrilling fashion with Davidson hitting a last-minute shot to win the game.

The Citadel

For a team with 13 freshman and an injury to one of two returning lettermen, The Citadel Bulldogs have done well to go 4-6 to this point in the season. Pat Conroy's team has a victory over county rival Charleston Southern and "good losses" to teams like USC, South Carolina and Washington State. The Bulldogs played conference-favorite Davidson tough for one half two weeks ago.

The Bulldogs have played some of their recent games without returning local senior forward Demetrius Nelson. Nelson missed the matchup with Davidson due to a stress fracture.

With Nelson out, Conroy has seen increased production from sensational freshmen Austin Dahn and Cameron Wells. Wells currently ranks third in the conference with 15.5 ppg. He is also averaging 3.4 assists per game.

Although The Citadel will probably finish ninth or tenth in the conference once again, they have a very talented young team that could sneak up on some conference opponents and possibly win a game in the conference tournament being played in their hometown.


The disaster that is the 2007-2008 Furman Paladins first reared its ugly head on March 2, 2007 when the Paladins managed only 15 points in the first half of their SoCon semifinal game against Davidson. No player outside of graduating seniors Moussa Diagne, Eric Webb or Robby Bostain obtained anything more than garbage points, and Furman was absolutely humiliated after Teddy Valentine threw out Diagne from the last game of his career.

Furman made several off-season improvements to their home gym in Greenville but that has not helped a team that has yet to win a game this season. Furman's 0-10 record (0-3 SoCon) includes embarrassing losses to USC Aiken and Utah Valley.

The Paladins have been led by freshman Justin Dehm who has averaged 9.6 points per game so far. Returning letterman Tony Anderson is one of two Paladin players with a positive assist/turnover ratio, but he has only scored 29 points in ten games played.

Davidson has only lost to Furman once since 1995. That loss came at Timmons Arena in 2006 as the Paladins ended Davidson's nation-leading conference winning streak. Without a scorer averaging more than 10 points a game, it doesn't look like the Paladins will find much success against Davidson or any other team in the Southern Conference this season.

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