Scouting the ASUN: The Jacksonville Dolphins

Russell Powell of Jacksonville
Russell Powell of Jacksonville
Russell Powell 2011-12: 11 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg

Jacksonville looked terrible early on last year but were playing much better by season’s end, finding in Aloys Cabell a scoring threat that they had been missing since Ben Smith left.  However they lose Cabell, Chris Davis, Jake Geisler and Eric Richardson to transfer, along with graduates Shamille Jeffers, Terry Galvin and Delwan Graham.   Only 3 of their top 9 scorers return.  In the front court rotation only Glenn Powell returns.  In the back court, it’s guards Keith McDougald and Russell Powell.   Sophomore bit players Evin Graham and Jeremy Boguswill be asked to do much more.  Cliff Warren will have a job in both recruiting and coaching to do here.  But will they be any worse than the 8-20 of this past year?

Newcomers will be counted on for immediate help, including 6’4” shooting guard Jarvis Haywood of Charlotte, NC, with the highest ESPN rating of all ASun incoming freshmen at 88.     Jacksonville caught an important break when Utah transfer PF Javon Dawson, 6-6 260 (3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 14.7 min.), was declared eligible for this year.  Dylan Fritsch 6’5” 170, Otero JC (same team as Lipscomb’s Oscar Garcia) adds shooting power to a team that needs it (10.2 ppg on 41% with 37%(67-179) from 3, 3.3 rebounds, .94 assists, 1.0 t.o., .16 blocks, .53 steals).  6’9” 235 freshman Tyler Alderman, may be more of a project.   Freshman Kadario Fleming, Ridgeway HS, Memphis, 6’6” 185, ESPN rated 83 is said to be thicker and stronger than his weight would suggest. Freshman Marcellous Bell, 5’10” 140, point guard ranked 79 by ESPN arrives from the legendary DeMatha program.   They’ll probably be counting on transfers Dawson and Fritsch and freshman Haywood to step right into the rotation.  RS-sophomore Admir Sahbegovic has supposedly suffered yet another knee injury and may miss the season.

The Dolphins had the benefit of a summer trip to the Dominican Republic where they beat up on 4 inferior teams.  This was no doubt a critically important step to integrate so many the new guys.  But Lipscomb made the same trip last year, and still had a difficult season.  Despite that experience, I expect Jacksonville to look pretty rough initially.  Like ETSU they are undertaking major rebuilding.  And unless 6’9” freshman Alderman can be a factor, which I consider unlikely, they will have no one over 6’6”.  But they have brought in talent, and could be a factor in the ASun by season’s end.  Cliff Warren teams have a way of coming together and battling at the finish.

2012-2013 Jacksonville Roster

0 Javon Dawson F Jr. 6-6 260 Cordele, Ga. (Utah)
1 Jeremy Bogus G So. 6-4 180 Birmingham, Ala. (Wenonah)
2 Russell Powell G Sr. 5-9 150 Newnan, Ga. (Newnan)
5 Evin Graham F So. 6-3 185 Fort Myers, Fla. (Fort Myers)
10 Marcellous Bell G Fr. 5-11 175 Hyattsville, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)
11 Jarvis Haywood G Fr. 6-4 185 Charlotte, N.C. (Harding)
20 Dylan Fritsch F Jr. 6-5 170 Albuquerque, N.M. (Otero JC)
21 Keith McDougald G Jr. 6-1 206 Jacksonville, Fla. (Bishop Kenny)
22 Admir Sahbegovic F So. 6-6 200 Jacksonville, Fla. (Englewood)
23 Kordario Fleming F Fr. 6-6 210 Memphis, Tenn. (Ridgeway)
42 Glenn Powell F Sr. 6-5 200 Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Fork Union Mil. Acad)
44 Tyler Alderman C Fr. 6-9 235 Fishers, Ind. (Fishers)

2011-2012 Jacksonville Results

ALL GAMES (8-22) (5-6) (3-15) (0-1)
CONFERENCE (6-12) (4-5) (2-7) (0-0)
NON-CONFERENCE (2-10) (1-1) (1-8) (0-1)

2011-2012 Stats

Aloys Cabell 29 25.2 12.3 1.8 2.5 0.8 0.1 2.0 .397 .698 .408
Keith McDougald 19 26.5 11.2 3.2 1.3 1.0 0.0 1.7 .373 .774 .340
Glenn Powell 30 27.9 10.9 6.4 0.4 1.1 1.2 1.9 .559 .425 .000
Delwan Graham 30 23.8 9.1 6.6 1.3 1.1 0.9 2.4 .448 .698 .333
Tevin Galvin 25 29.1 8.5 5.0 1.7 1.1 0.4 2.1 .392 .623 .291
Russell Powell 30 32.0 8.3 2.9 4.0 1.3 0.0 1.8 .388 .743 .255
Chris Davis 30 17.0 4.0 2.0 0.8 0.4 0.2 1.3 .366 .729 .314
Shamile Jeffers 30 9.6 2.2 1.8 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.8 .574 .579 .000
Jake Geisler 16 6.4 1.9 1.4 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.2 .314 .800 .200
Evin Graham 26 15.8 1.8 2.7 0.7 0.5 0.1 1.3 .341 .520 .300
Jeremy Bogus 21 6.6 1.7 0.3 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 .244 1.000 .256
Admir Sahbegovic 24 5.4 0.9 0.6 0.1 0.3 0.0 0.5 .292 .636 .500
Totals 30 65 34 12 7 4 15 .418 .657 .319

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Scouting the ASUN: Mercer Bears

Langston Hall-Mercer
Langston Hall-Mercer
Langston Hall-ASUN All-Freshman Team; 1st-Team Atlantic Sun

They are clearly the team to beat next year after a stirring CIT tournament championship (winning 3 games on the road).    The Bears lose their best outside shooter in 6’8” Justin Cecil, with his 82 treys, but bring back everybody else.  And the average 3 point percentage of the remaining players is as good as Cecil’s, (.363), so they  should still do fine from the arc.   To bolster perimeter shooting they bring in skinny 6’2” JUCO Anthony White from Lakeland College who knocks down 15 points on 40% from 3.  They should improve as their young, senior free roster matures.   6’10” rising junior Daniel Coursey, completely unheralded as a freshman, is easily the most improved big man in the ASun.   They are a little short on athleticism and physicality inside, but have good size, shooting, passing and basketball smarts from the big guys, Coursey, Bud Thomas and Jake Gollon, and from 6’4” guard Langston Hall, a top candidate for ASun POY.    Travis Smith became a fine 2nd guard to go with him.  Mercer is by far the best balanced team in the league.    They had the best scoring defense in the ASun – holding opponents to 62.8, and to by far the lowest field goal percentage, .386.  They were 2nd to Belmont in scoring margin, +5.3, and were 4th in 3 point percentage.   They had the second highest rebounding margin after USCU.  They led in blocked shots with 4.8.  They can beat you inside or out.   Bit players Paul Larsen, R.J. Miskimon, Shaquille Harris and Kymon Woods transfer.  Mercer got here by bringing in bushels of recruits for 2 years (about 14 in all), discarding most of them, but finding key players like Coursey, Bud Thomas and Travis Smith among the remainder.   Additions include shooter White, and 6’5” freshman guard Lawrence Brown of Kansas City, MO, 6’4” FR guard Dylan Poston of Myrtle Beach, SC, and 6’5” sophomore Ike Nwamu from Greensboro, NC.

2012-2013 Mercer Roster

25 Lawrence Brown G Fr. 6-5 210 Kansas City, Mo. / The Barstow School
45 Monty Brown C Jr. 6-11 250 Liberty Mounds, Okla. / The Hotchkiss School (Conn.)
34 Jibri Bryan G R-Fr. 6-3 180 Savannah, Ga. / Benedictine Military School
3 Kevin Canevari G Jr. 5-11 165 Charlotte, N.C. / Lake Norman HS
52 Daniel Coursey F Jr. 6-10 220 Savannah, Ga. / Benedictine Military School
20 Jakob Gollon F R-Jr. 6-6 200 Stevens Point, Wis. / Stevens Point HS
21 Langston Hall PG Jr. 6-4 180 Atlanta, Ga. / Chamblee HS
14 T.J. Hallice F So. 6-9 205 Weddington, N.C. / Fishburne Military School
22 Darious Moten F R-So. 6-6 195 Bowdon, Ga. / Bowdon HS
10 Ike Nwamu F So. 6-5 205 Greensboro, N.C. / Westchester Country Day
1 Dylan Poston G Fr. 6-4 185 Myrtle Beach, S.C. / Faith Baptist School
23 Chris Smith G Sr. 6-1 170 Dublin, Ga. / Dublin HS
2 Travis Smith G Sr. 6-3 185 Johns Island, S.C. / Porter-Gaud School
5 Bud Thomas F Jr. 6-6 200 Highlands Ranch, Colo. / Regis Jesuit HS
15 Anthony White Jr. G Jr. 6-2 170 Indianapolis, Ind. / Pike HS

2011-2012 Mercer Results

ALL GAMES (27-11) (15-2) (12-8) (0-1)
CONFERENCE (13-5) (8-1) (5-4) (0-0)
NON-CONFERENCE (14-6) (7-1) (7-4) (0-1)

2011-2012 Stats

Langston Hall 38 34.7 11.4 3.4 4.2 1.3 0.2 2.7 .376 .757 .361
Justin Cecil 38 25.1 10.8 3.6 0.7 0.4 0.4 1.1 .407 .790 .363
Jakob Gollon 38 31.8 10.5 5.9 3.3 1.6 0.3 3.1 .474 .829 .391
Bud Thomas 38 31.6 8.6 4.6 2.1 1.2 0.5 1.9 .504 .631 .323
Travis Smith 31 21.0 8.5 2.5 1.7 0.8 0.0 1.5 .492 .821 .429
Daniel Coursey 38 19.6 8.2 4.2 0.4 0.3 2.3 1.3 .620 .609 .000
Jibri Bryan 6 13.0 5.2 3.2 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.7 .423 .667 .500
Monty Brown 38 11.6 4.7 2.5 0.2 0.1 0.5 1.1 .582 .654 .000
Chris Smith 38 9.7 2.6 1.5 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.7 .390 .806 .333
Paul Larsen 32 6.2 1.6 1.4 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.5 .302 .625 .000
Shaquille Harris 27 3.4 1.4 0.4 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.3 .400 .400 .313
R.J. Miskimon 8 1.1 0.6 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .667 .000 .500
Kevin Canevari 34 4.6 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.3 0.0 0.6 .438 .800 .273
T.J. Hallice 38 4.1 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 .240 .429 .000
Darious Moten 23 2.0 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 .182 .333 .000
Marquisse Jackson 10 2.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.2 .000 .000 .000

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Scouting the ASUN: ETSU

Hunter Harris
Hunter Harris
Hunter Harrris, 6’7″ 220 lb 2nd team juco All-American
Picture courtesy ETSUBUCS.COM

It must be said that last season was a disappointment for ETSU fans.  Middle of the pack ASun (17-14 overall, 10-8 in conference) is just not an acceptable finish.   On the plus side, Bucs fielded a ferocious defense led by the much improved Sheldon Cooley.  They were second in the nation in steals with 10.2 and 12th in the nation in turnover margin with a 3.65 ratio, both also tops in the ASun.  But the offense struggled (8th in the ASun with a 67.2 average, 6th in field goal percentage with .441) and 3 point shooting withered with a dead last in the ASun .311.  The senior nucleus of Adam Sollazzo, Isiah Brown and Tommy Hubbard, was good, but did not rise to the heights that many had hoped for.  JUCO scoring whiz Marcus Dubose had flashes of greatness early, and a strong end of the season, but a shaky middle.  Three promising freshmen (Rembert, Walton and Wilson) proved unready to contribute much in their first year on the D1 stage.  Worst of all, the Bucs “do it the right way” image was tarnished by a chaotic season’s end with several team members victimized by a confusing robbery, the suspension of Sheldon Cooley, and the withdrawal from school of J.C. Ward.

ETSU loses those 3 seniors, including their 3 best rebounders and 3 of the 4 top scorers from a team that already had trouble scoring.   But the Bucs will be relying on promising but unproven players like John Walton, Lester Wilson and on freshman Petey McClain to play key roles, and on a couple of highly touted JUCO transfers.   Unless Murry coaches better than many of us think he can, this may be a difficult year for fans.   The biggest needs are (1) inside rebounding and defense to replace Isiah and Tommy, (2) more efficient scoring, especially from 3,  and (3) solid D1 playmaking with the departure of Adam Sollazzo.  Those are pretty big question marks, but there are some possible answers.

Some answers could come from returning players.  Inside, that means 6’8” Lukas Poderis and 6’7” John Walton.  We don’t need these guys to be big scorers.  We do need them to be focused, hard charging defenders and rebounders for 40 minutes a game.  They are both fairly long and athletic – but they need to channel Greg Hamlin and improve as Greg did as a senior after a very limited first year .   Walton especially has the stuff to be another Hamlin – a guy who plays bigger than he is due to energy, enthusiasm and athleticism.  He often looked lost last year, and didn’t get enough PT to put up any stats. But he gave us a few promising turns on the court late in the season.   Most of the fault lies with Murry who used him far too little.  But Murry also failed to use Tommy Hubbard and Greg Hamlin their first year.  Tommy showed so little as a freshman that I thought he would go the way of Aaron Scott.  But despite the very limited experience, both Tommy and Greg kicked in big second years, sending the Bucs to the NCAA’s to battle Pittsburgh.  Poderis has length, muscle, decent athleticism, and experience.  But he’s got to play with focus and intensity for the entire game, night in and night out.   JUCO transfer Hunter Harris at 6’7” 220 Hunter Harris:  (Volunteer St CC; 18.1 ppg; 40%, 13%-3pt 1-8; 73% FT, 11.6 rpg, 1.3 stl, 1.2 apg .9 to; 2.4 blk; in 19 games) was a 2nd team JUCO All-American with those 18 points and 11 rebounds, and is described as a bouncy, high energy player.  He’s likely stronger than Walton and more athletic than Poderis.  However he played no high school ball, and many new players have looked pretty lost in the Bucs tricky combination of zone defenses.

We need redshirt freshman 6’4”205 Lester Wilson to be a longer, more athletic Tommy Hubbard:  not easily done, but he’s got all the physical tools.    He’s got  speed and jumping ability that Tommy could only dream about, and there were little hints of what could be, like the Rocky Top League performance, where he demonstrated an ability to score as much as 49 points in a game and shoot with some range.  One caveat:  it took Tommy until his junior year to fully develop his offensive game, and Tommy had better early coaching.  A  JUCO addition in the swingman category is the unique Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard (Roane State CC .6 stl; 14.2 ppg; 57%; 17-46 37%-3pt; 72% ft; 7 rpg; 2.4 apg, 2.8 to; .6 blk; in 25 games) 6’5” 250, who has a remarkable set of skills, a fine handle, range from 3 and a tricky combination of stepbacks, fall-aways and power moves inside the arc.   With his range of offensive skills, 14.2 points and 7 rebounds, he beat out Hunter Harris for conference POY.    Another player with fascinating potential in the swingman category is 6’4” 215 freshman Yunio Barrueta of Dade County.  He’s got muscle, athleticism and a range of skills

At guard, we need seniors Dubose and Cooley to be stars.  Dubose has to be a consistent leader night in and night out, improving his game the way that fellow JUCO’s Kevin Tiggs, Greg Hamlin and Eryk Thomas did between their first and second years.  He needs to average 15 points or more on efficient shooting, with about 3.75 rebounds, 1.5 or so steals – in other words, pretty much the level he was performing on for the last 8 games of the season (13.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 1.3 steals)… or even a little better.  This is certainly not out of reach for Marcus, who started the season with blistering 26 and 27 point performances at Charlotte and against Troy, but slumped in the middle before rebounding with a strong last 8 games.   Sheldon needs to continue to be a defensive mad man, bringing in about 3 steals, 3.75 rebounds and  12 to 15 points per game on the high efficiency shooting that he showed the last half of the season.  Again this is about what he was doing the last 15 games of the year (although he only scored 11.3 ppg during that stretch).  We probably need Cooley and Petey McClain to split time at point.   We will be counting on Petey to step right in and give us 25 minutes or so of solid D1 point guard play – the kind of freshman point guard minutes that we haven’t seen since Dequan Twilley.

Our best hope for a second shooting guard is redshirt senior Jarvis Jones, who stepped up his defense in a big way this year, and started the season as a very efficient “catch and shoot” 3 point shooter.  He needs to use his fine athleticism to get a 3 point shot off the dribble more often, and to penetrate more.  He should have the quickness and vertical leap either to get to the rim or hit pull up jumpers.   Missing the early season with academic eligibility problems does not help.   But his absence creates opportunity for others.  In particular, I think that freshman Mario Stramaglia has the mental toughness and physical skills to be a fine 3 point shooter on this level: he’s got an excellent vertical (sometimes jumping center at 6’1”), good strength for his size and could penetrate and finish with a dunk as a high school junior.  He could be an Andrew Goudelock or a Rotnei Clarke – or he could be a Bruce Grimm.  Only time will tell.  Rashawn Rembert barely got his feet wet last year.  Although he showed promise as a big (a tall 6’3”), athletic guard, he needs to improve his outside shot, and be more confident and aggressive on the floor.

Bottom line there are lots of promising pieces here, including more muscle, if not height, than we’ve had in a while – but they must be assembled into a team.   I expect a rough and ragged beginning.   But if we get the sort of star production and leadership that we could out of Cooley and Dubose;  solid defense and rebounding (not necessarily big scoring) in the middle from Poderis, Walton or Harris, some scoring punch and rebounding from swingmen Wilson, KGG or Barrueta; solid point guard minutes from McClain; and some bench scoring from Jarvis Jones, Rembert or Stramaglia… then we’ll be battling for the ASun title.  If not, then we’ll be looking up at Mercer, USCU, FGCU and UNF and battling Jacksonville for fifth.

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ESPN – Bucs are superior to 64% of D1 programs.


ESPN – Bucs are superior to 64% of D1 programs.

ESPN has pegged ETSU as superior to almost 2/3’s of D1 basketball programs based on performance over the last 50 years.The Bucs are tied for 112th out of about 309 rated schools.The rankings by Harold Shelton of ESPN Stats & Information are at:

Obviously the exercise is less than a science – which is good to remember when we see Chattanooga 67th, Montana 75th, Charlotte T-86th, Louisiana-Monroe 93rd, North Carolina A&T 94th, Drexel95th, LaSalle 96th, Northeastern 98th, Winthrop and Bucknell T-104th, and New Orleans T-110th.

And what on earth are we doing tied with Coppin State at 112th?  Coppin State??

The arbitrariness of the boundaries hurts some teams.A 50 year cutoff makes for a neat headline, but Ohio State, for example, can’t count the the 1960 national title or the great class with Jerry Lucas, John Havilicek, Bobby Knight and Mel Nowell.Which leaves the top ranked Ohio State center listed as Garry Bradds rather than Jerry Lucas. West Virginia and Cincinnati are deprived of Jerry West and Oscar Robertson. Indiana gets credit for the Knight years, but not Branch McCracken’s national titles. Indiana had great basketball before Bobby Knight was old enough to throw a chair. But you’ve got to draw the boundaries somewhere.

On the other hand, this list has the ETSU Bucs looking down at Valparaiso and Ball State T-118th, Mississippi State T-121st, Bradley 123rd, Virginia Tech T-126th, Navy 130th, Auburn T-144th, Marshall T-159th, Georgia 171st, Appy State T-180th, Penn State 210th, all of the OVC except Murry State (Belmont doesn’t qualify), all of the MAC except Miami and Ohio U., and all of the Southern except for Chattanooga, Charleston and Davidson.

The ETSU tradition can’t be ignored by anyone taking an honest look at the D1 basketball history.

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