Friday, October 29, 2010

Sun Belt Conference Preview


Wow. That’s the only way one can describe the regular season race that the Sun Belt experienced last season. Three teams tied for the league title at 13-5, while Western Kentucky finished one game back, at 12-6. Arkansas State went 11-7, and three more teams went 10-8. In the end, Troy won the tiebreaker over Middle Tennessee State and West Division champ North Texas for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The conference tournament, not surprisingly, was wide-open. Eventual champion North Texas won the tournament, despite winning their three games by an average of just over four points per game. The Mean Green fell to Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament. Expect another wide-open race this season.

East Division

  • 1. Western Kentucky: The frontcourt trio of forwards Steffphon Pettigrew and Sergio Kerusch, and Oklahoma transfer Juan Patillo, should be formidable.
  • 2. Florida Atlantic: Mike Jarvis brings back a super sophomore backcourt of Greg Gantt and Ray Taylor, as well as Defensive Player of the Year Brett Royster.
  • 3. South Alabama: Four starters return for the Jaguars, including all-conference guard Tim Williams. Martino Brock provides scoring on the wing.
  • 4. Middle Tennessee: James Washington is the lone double-figure scorer returning, but the Blue Raiders bring in a nice recruiting class with impact players.
  • 5. FIU: If freshmen Dominique Ferguson and Phil Taylor are eligible, they form one of the more talented duos in the league. Marvin Roberts returns and transfer Alex Legion will make an impact.
  • 6. Troy: The Trojans will likely go from first to last in the East Division. They lose all five starters from last season, and will build around Vernon Taylor.

West Division

  • 1. North Texas: Look out for the Mean Green if they make it to the NCAA Tournament. Tristan Thompson and Josh White form a dynamite backcourt, and George Odufuwa is a double-double monster.
  • 2. Arkansas State: The loss of Brandon Reed to Georgia Tech hurts, but big man Martavius Adams is solid and Daniel Bryant can fill it up.
  • 3. Denver: Four starters return for a Pioneers team that finished in third place. Brian Stafford is the top returnee, but frosh Brian Udofia will make an impact.
  • 4. Louisiana-Lafayette: If Chris Gradnigo didn’t leave in the summer, this team might be higher. As it stands, Randell Daigle will have to carry the offense.
  • 5. UALR: Five players with starting experience return for the Trojans, but they finished in sixth place last season. Solomon Bozeman is a playmaker.
  • 6. Louisiana-Monroe: The key player for the Warhawks will be Kansas State transfer Fred Brown, who will lead a depleted roster for new coach Keith Richard.

Player of the Year: George Odufuwa, F, North Texas

All-Conference Team:

  • G- Tim Williams, South Alabama
  • G- Ray Taylor, Florida Atlantic
  • G- Tristan Thompson, North Texas
  • F- George Odufuwa, North Texas
  • F- Stepphon Pettigrew, Western Kentucky

Second Team:

  • G- Greg Gantt, Florida Atlantic
  • G- Josh White, North Texas
  • G- Fred Brown, Louisiana-Monroe
  • F- Sergio Kerusch, Western Kentucky
  • C- Martavious Adams, Arkansas State

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