Two more games against Northeast Conference foes tonight, with Long Island at Army and Fairleigh
Dickinson at Lafayette. But our favorite matchup tonight takes place in Kennesaw, Ga., where Colgate looks to go to 3-0 against a chuck-and-duck Southland Conference team from southwest Texas.
SCOUTING TEXAS STATEFor a school we'd never heard of before Colgate announced its schedule, these guys sure have a lot of traditions. Our favorite of the bunch, hands down, being The Texas Strutters
Did you know:
This is a huge school, 28,132 students
Boko the bobcat was the 2006 United Spirit Association Collegiate Nationals championship mascot of the year
The Strutters have performed on every major television network, a national television commercial, appeared in two U.S. Presidential inaugurations, five motion pictures, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, MTV's TRL, and 17 countries spanning 4 continents, including being the first U.S. dance team to perform in the People's Republic of China.
Of course the reason Texas State might sound unfamiliar is because for years it was known as Southwest Texas State. The name changed in 2003. The Bobcats tradition in hoops has fallen on hard times recently. They were 9-20 last season. That sounds bad until you realize it was three times as many games as they won in 2005-2006. But over the years they can boast two trips to the NCAA Tournament and an NAIA National title
Picked to finish sixth in the six-team West division of the Southland Conference, Texas State's roster includes four starters from the team that went 1-13 away from home last season. Junior forward Brandon Bush (6-7) led the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg) last season and through two games is leading both categories again (20 ppg, 9 rpg). Brandon Thomas, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 13.5 ppg and 6.5 rebounds. Juco transfer Brent Benson is averaging 10.5 ppg off the bench.
Of course all those stats came in games against something called Huston-Tillotson (NAIA) and Dallas Baptist (D-II). Texas State averaged 100 ppg in those two matchups. This will be the Bobcats first game against a Division I team.
Second-year coach Doug Davalos prefers an up-tempo, full-court style. Last year it t resulted in Texas State averaging 77.6 points per game. The downside was that opponents averaged 85.4 ppg against the Bobcats.
Blue Ribbon preview
Bobcats begin Davalos era (TSU release includes coach's comments on all players)
Texas State fight song (mp3)
SCOUTING LONG ISLAND Picked to finish last in the 11-team Northeast Conference, the Blackbirds are coming off a 10-19 season in which they were 4-12 on the road. LIU opened the season Monday with an 82-50 loss at Notre Dame. Senior Kellen Allen, a 6-7 frontcourt type, led LIU with 16 points in the loss. Freshman Kyle Johnson, a 6-3 guard, added 12.
Here is a look at the Blackbirds from an NEC preseason release:
Looking for a return to prominence, a significant personnel facelift has given sixth year head coach Jim Ferry the opportunity to flip the reset switch and take the Long Island program in a new direction this coming season.NOTE: We'd have preferred to link to this, as well as the section of the same release dealing with Fairleigh Dickinson below. But that would require folks to download an 11-page pdf and scroll through it to find the LIU and FD parts. For NEC fans, or those who want to know more about other NEC teams, here is the link
With star guard James Williams - the face of the Blackbirds in recent years and the 17th-leading scorer in NEC history with 1,710 points - and two of his key cohorts now graduated, Ferry improved the team’s athleticism in the offseason with a number of pivotal additions to the lineup who will complement a cast of veteran returnees.
Long Island’s experience lies in its frontcourt, anchored by seniors Eugene Kotorobai, Paska Morkeliunas and Kellen Allen. One of the NEC’s top three-point threats the last two years, the 6’5” Kotorobai drilled 52 shots from beyond the arc and ranked sixth in the league with a 40.0 percent success rate from outside the arc in 2006-07. He is also the team’s leading returning scorer (9.7 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg). Morkeliunas (4.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg) is a rugged interior defender who at 6’7”, 230 lbs., has an innate ability to draw fouls in the paint. Last season, he went to the line 109 times, the second-highest figure on the team despite averaging just over 16 minutes per game. Long Island’s low-post offense will be bolstered with the return of 6’7” Allen, a jump hook specialist who missed the last 18 games of the 2006-07 campaign with an injury. When healthy, Allen averaged 4.8 ppg and converted 56.5 percent of his shot opportunities. Sophomore Aurimas Adomaitis, the team’s biggest player at 6’8” and 235 lbs., started 21 games in a promising freshman campaign, averaging 6.0 ppg and 3.2 rpg. Junior forward Albert Forbes, who has suffered through two injury plagued seasons and has yet to suit up for the Blackbirds, will provide depth up front.
Sophomore Jaytornah Wisseh and junior Tyrone Mattison will push the tempo in the team’s ultra-swift backcourt. Wisseh displayed tremendous upside for Long Island last season when he was tabbed to the all-NEC Rookie team. A freewheeling penetrator, Wisseh often seemed unguardable in one-on-one situations and served notice of his skills with back-to-back 20+ point outings in early February, including a career-best 29-point effort at Sacred Heart. He averaged 8.7 ppg on the season and led the team with 3.0 apg. Manning the point, Mattison often deferred on offense to Williams and fellow graduate Aubin Scott, but should come into his own this season with two years under his belt. Extremely quick coast-to-coast, Mattison contributed 6.3 ppg and 2.0 spg as a sophomore.
Ferry wasted little time replenishing his backcourt with the addition of 6’1” shooter David Hicks during last fall’s signing period. A Minnesota native, Hicks prepped at South Kent in Connecticut in 2006-07. During the spring, Ferry added 5’11” Nehemiah Weicks out of the California JUCO ranks. Weicks is versatile enough to play either guard position and like Hicks, can stroke it from the outside. The Blackbirds also received a commitment from 6’4” forward Ron Manigault, a New York City native who played two years at the City College of San Francisco. The cousin of local playground legend Earl “The Goat” Manigault, he has the versatility to play any of four positions and will add some grit to the Blackbird lineup. LIU landed another urban recruit in 6’7” forward Ike Udanoh, a Detroit native whose natural athleticism and aggressiveness on the boards will serve him well in an up-tempo atmosphere. Ferry completed his recruiting class in the summer with the addition of two more guards, 6’3” Kyle Johnson out of Ontario, Canada and 6’1” Alan Mozee from Oklahoma City.
Long Island By The Numbers
2006-07 Overall Record: 10-19
2006-07 NEC Record/Finish: 6-10/10th
NEC Tournament Finish: Did not qualify
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 8/6
2006-07 Final RPI: 310
Games Decided By 5 Points or Less: 5-5
Last Two Years: 15-21 (.417)
Last Three Years 25-29 (.463)
Last Four Years: 29-43 (.403)
Last Five Years: 36-54 (.400)
Last Two Years: 22-35 (.386)
Last Three Years 36-50 (.419)
Last Four Years: 44-69 (.389)
Last Five Years: 53-88 (.376)
Leading Returning Scorers
Eugene Kotorobai: 9.7 ppg
Jaytornah Wisseh: 8.7 ppg
Tyrone Mattison: 6.3 ppg
Leading Returning Rebounders
Eugene Kotorobai: 6.5 rpg
Paska Morkeliunas: 3.7 rpg
Aurimas Adomaitis: 3.2 rpg
Leading Returning Assists
Jaytornah Wisseh: 3.0 apg
Tyrone Mattison: 2.0 apg
Kellen Allen: 0.8 apg
NEC team-by-team previews (pdf)
LIU game notes
SCOUTING FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON Picked ninth in the NEC, the Knights are 0-2 after a pair of 20-point losses in the preseason NIT at Syracuse. FDU dropped an 86-66 decision to Saint Joe's in its opener, and followed that with an 88-66 loss to Siena in the consolation round.
Through two games, FDU is shooting 42.2 percent from the field and allowing opponents to shoot at a 57.6 percent clip. Manny Ubilla (16 ppg), a 6-2 senior guard, leads four Knights averaging in double figures. Bernell Murray, a 5-9 senior, and 6-3 sophomore Sean Baptiste each are averaging 14 ppg. Freshman John Galvin (6-8) averages 10 ppg. Murray and Ubilla are the assists leaders (4.9 apg each); Baptiste (6 rpg) leads the team's rebounders.
From that same NEC release:
With 25th year head coach Tom Green at the helm of the Fairleigh Dickinson program, one thing is for certain: regardless of the team’s roster turnover from year-to-year, it is impossible to dismiss the Knights as a contender in the NEC. Despite losing a pair of all-stars and a dominating big man, the Knights quickly regrouped last season, scoring a non-conference win at Seton Hall in November. During league play, FDU stayed near the top of the standings for much of the season before fading somewhat down the stretch to finish tied for fourth in the NEC.BONUS LINKS:
Green, the winningest coach in conference history, will face a new set of challenges this coming season with the departure of first team all-NEC forward Andre Harris and do-everything swingman Michael Peeples, who combined for nearly 31 points per outing a year ago. If Green has any chance at adding to his league record four NEC titles, it will hinge on his ability to incorporate yet another fresh set of faces into the rotation.
Carrying the load for the Knights will be the sterling backcourt of junior Cameron Tyler and senior Manny Ubilla. Tyler blossomed in his sophomore year into one of the top point guards in the conference. His ability to draw defenders with his athletic attacks to the hoop created open shots for teammates - Ubilla in particular - and made for some stunning scoring flurries for the 6’0” New York City product. Tyler finished second on the club with 14.3 ppg, added 4.4 rpg and finished third in the conference with 5.1 apg. Ubilla stepped right into a feature role for the Knights last season, averaging 11.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2.9 apg, while displaying a deadly touch from the outside. He hit 63 three-pointers and made 39.6 percent of his attempts on the year to rank in the NEC top-ten in both categories. Ubilla, a 6’3” catch-and-shoot specialist, hit a number of big shots on the year, including a dagger at the buzzer to stop Garden State rival Monmouth in a televised game last February. Reinforcing the backcourt for FDU is veteran Bernell Murray and sophomore Sean Baptiste. A dependable point guard, Murray (3.7 ppg) has a tremendous amount of big-game experience and as a senior is the last link to the Knights’ 2005 NEC Championship team. A physical player who is unafraid of contact and can get to the line, Baptiste (4.6 ppg) was a valuable contributor off the bench for the Knights in 2006-07.
With the loss of Harris and Peeples, along with starting center Jordan Ingram, Green will have to retool a front line headed by 6’6” senior Eric Hazard. One of the league’s best at spotting up from the three-point stripe, Hazard (5.3 ppg) provided instant offense off the bench last year, but could be moved into a more prominent role this coming season. The Jersey native made nearly 80 percent of his shots from long range and his 41.2 percent conversion rate ranked fourth in the NEC. Look for sophomore forward Bryan Lytle and 7’0” English import Lawrence Brown, a sophomore center, to crack the rotation as well.
While Green added five to members to the Knights’ cast in the offseason, he was clearly looking toward the future with his additions. Three of the recruits are New Jersey products who will sit out the 2007-08 season, including 6’1” junior guard Eric Moore, who averaged 12.5 ppg, 2.3 apg and buried 75 three-pointers in 21 starts for Buffalo a year ago. He led the Mid-American Conference in three-point field goal production, averaging 2.7 per game. Another transfer who will sit out this year is burly 6’8” forward Alvin Mofunanya, who played two years at Saint Joseph’s. Freshman guard Anthony Jeune contributed 17.0 ppg his senior year at Camden Catholic, but will be redshirt in 2007-08 after sustaining serious injury in February. Freshman John Galvin, a 6’8” forward, will immediately bolster the frontcourt after a terrific scholastic career at Weston (CT), where he earned All-State status last season and graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,902 points. In 2006-07, he averaged 24.0 ppg and 15.0 rpg. Freshman Jordan Stasyszyn, a 6’3” shooting guard, will give the Knights yet another three-point marksman. As a senior at Carlisle (PA), he hit 10 treys in a playoff game and 110 on the year as he averaged 24.0 ppg.
FDU By The Numbers
2006-07 Overall Record: 14-16
2006-07 NEC Record/Finish: 9-9/Tie-4th
NEC Tournament Finish: Lost in quarterfinals
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/4
2006-07 Final RPI: 233
Games Decided By 5 Points or Less: 9-10
Last Two Years: 23-13 (.639)
Last Three Years 36-18 (.667)
Last Four Years: 47-25 (.653)
Last Five Years: 56-34 (.622)
Last Two Years: 34-28 (.548)
Last Three Years 54-41 (.568)
Last Four Years: 71-53 (.573)
Last Five Years: 86-67 (.562)
Leading Returning Scorers
Cameron Tyler: 14.3 ppg
Manny Ubilla: 11.9 ppg
Eric Hazard: 5.3ppg
Leading Returning Rebounders
Cameron Tyler: 4.4 rpg
Manny Ubilla: 4.3 rpg
Eric Hazard: 2.3 rpg
Leading Returning Assists
Cameron Tyler: 5.1 apg
Manny Ubilla: 2.9 apg
Bernell Murray: 1.5 apg
FDU game notes
Labels: Army, Colgate, Lafayette, previews