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Last season, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference was an extremely balanced league that came down to the final week, before Delaware State edged out Coppin State and Hampton for the title. Delaware State then went on to defeat Hampton in an exciting conference tournament final. In the NCAA Tournament, Delaware St. gave Duke a decent game and fared better than most teams before losing by 11. Overall, seven teams finished with 10 wins or more in conference play. However, only 3 finished above .500 throughout the entire season. As usual, nearly every team has a shot at winning the conference in a league that is always filled with parody.
Favorites: South Carolina State were supposed to be the cream of the crop last season, but they never really got rolling and finished in fourth place. This year, they should live up to expectations. Thurman Zimmerman, possibly the best player in the league, returns to anchor the frontcourt. A solid guard trio also returns in Brian Mason, Brandon Tripp, and Derrick Davis. Chris Lee will join Zimmerman down low. Delaware State returns one of the best players in the league in forward Jahsha Bluntt. Two decent guards, Darren Shine and Tracey Worley, join him on the perimeter. If forwards Aaron Fleetwood and Troy Roundtree can develop into a low-post option, the Hornets could repeat as the MEAC champs.
Contenders: Regular season and posteason runner up Hampton has a legit inside force in Bruce Brown, the best center in the MEAC. He can carry the Pirates throughout the season. On the perimeter, guards Jeff Granger, Junior Pehoua and Rashad West provide balance. George Washington transfer Jaz Cowan will have to take some of the pressure off Brown inside. Norfolk State is a very balanced group, with no go-to-guy that gets all the attention. They have one of the best trios in the league in guard Tony Murphy, and post players Karandick Ogunride and Calvin Brown. Those three are solid each night out, but Brian Faulcon and Al'Davon Thomas are going to have to step up at the point. Coppin State has an all-conference forward in Darryl Proctor. Robert Pressey needs to improve his production if he is going to start next to Proctor. Guards Darryl Roberts and West Otis comprise a decent backcourt. The Eagles can make a run at the league title if a couple of scoring options develop throughout the season.
Sleepers: Florida A&M is an underrated team within the conference. The problem is that they are ineligible for postseason play this season; the Rattlers should still play hard though. Tony Tate may be the best guard in the league, while Darius Glover, Jonathan Kelly, and Glen Elliot give FAMU one of the best frontlines in the conference. If they were eligible for a bid, these team would be one to watch out for. Bethune Cookman has an excellent inside-outside combination in guard Antonio Webb and forward Michael Williams. Guards Anis Taylor and Kory Crumbley are solid role players, while Cleveland Williams is poised for a big season in the frontcourt. Howard returns five starters, including the best backcourt in the league. 5-6 Luis Ford is one of the best all-around guards in the league; Will Gant is an excellent scorer; and Reggie Bates is a decent producer. Up front, Cliffone Ault gives the Bison a very good third option, while Darryl Hudson is another good scorer. None of those players are taller than 6-4, though. If interior defense and rebounding aren't a problem, look out for this team. That's a big "if", however.
Rounding Out the Pack: North Carolina A&T was expecting to return the conference's leading scorer in guard Sean Booker, but had academic problems and will redshirt. If the Aggies are going to improve from their 6-24 record of a year ago, they will need help. A solid forward trio in Greg Roberts, Demetrius Guions, and Jason Willis is a good place to start. None of them are go-to-guys though. It is going to be another long season in Greensboro. Morgan State lose three starters, who also happened to be the three leading scorers for the Bears. Ronald Timus and Karanvir Ajula are going to be top scoring options, while Timothy Mathis, Joesph McLean, and Timothy Berkley will go from bench players to starters this season. Maryland-Eastern Shore returns one of the MEAC' best low-post options in Tim Parham, a double-double threat every night out. Guards Ryan Leak is going to have to have a huge year if the Hawks are going to win a lot more than the 2 games of a year ago.
Prediction: South Carolina State should bounce back after a disappointing 2004-2005 season and grab the automatic bid from the conference. Thurman Zimmerman is a load down low, and Brian Mason and co. on the perimeter provide good balance on offense. Howard is a deep sleeper than can make a run at the league title, but Delaware State will give the Bulldogs their stiffest competition.
Player of the Year: Thurman Zimmerman, PF, South Carolina State
G- Tony Tate, Florida A&M
F- Darryl Proctor, Coppin State
F- Jahsha Bluntt, Delaware State
F- Thurman Zimmerman, South Carolina State
C- Bruce Brown, Hampton
G- Will Gant, Howard
G- Antonio Webb, Bethune-Cookman
G- Luis Ford, Howard
F- Michael Williams, Bethune-Cookman
C- Tim Parham, Maryland-Eastern Shore
Actually, there is at least one player you mentioned on Howard's team that IS definitely ABOVE 6'4. Cliffone AUlt (guard/forward) is 6'5. DO your researchReplyDelete