NKU is a long way from Belmont – but was a very good D2 team, going 23-7, ranking 11th nationally and qualifying for the NCAA DII tournament for the second year in a row. They lost in the first round, 60-59. The season included an 11/4/2011 exhibition win over 19-14 West Virginia in Morgantown. That was West Virginia’s first time on the floor for the season. The Mountaineers apparently had a pretty rough early season: they also dropped a November 15 game to Kent State in Morgantown, 70-60, and barely beat Oral Roberts on November 11, 78-71. http://www.wvusports.com/schedules.cfm?sport=mbball Kent State went on to lose to USCU in the CIS tournament. Speaking of USCU, you may remember that the post transfer USCU bunch was not an easy out in their first ASun year, even though they had been 9-7 in their D2 conference the prior season. Belmont will likely struggle a bit next year as both post players (Hedgepeth and Saunders) graduate. Their replacement is talented, but more of a perimeter guy: 3rd team All SoCon 6’9” JR Drew Windler, a RS JR Samford transfer who averaged 14.4 ppg shooting .426 from 3, but only 3.8 rebounds and 0.4 blocks. Point guard Drew Hanlen also goes. Incoming recruits are all guards, although one, Craig Bradshaw, sounds like another Justin Hare, a physical scrapper who won TN AA POY and AA State Tourney MVP. Belmont will rely on senior guards Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson, and hope that 6’11” Chad Lang and 6’7” Trevor Noack can do more inside than they’ve shown thus far.This year Belmont would probably not have been favored over Mercer, but still would have contended for the ASun crown. NKU probably won’t do that. NKU loses 3 of the 6 guys who logged over 21 minutes in their rotation, including leading scorer Jon Van Hoose, but bring in two highly touted guards, Tyler White, 6’3” Lima, OH, Twice an Honorable Mention big school All-Ohio, and Todd Johnson 5’8” Honorable Mention Indiana All-State. Other recruits are a pair of 6’8” twins, Jacob and Justin Rossi of Franklin, OH and 6’6” Jack Flournoy (Oak Hill; Woodberry, VA) who got offers from West Virginia, Marshall and Ohio U. before tearing an ACL, John Staley, 6’5” forward Dayton Chaminade-Juliene – 17.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg. Nate Snodgrass6’1” FR PG from Butler, PA – 21.2 ppg, 5.2 assists. They are not an especially big team – the only returning players over 6’5” are 6’7” 190 Ernest Watson (6.3 ppg and 4.7 rpg in 17.4 minutes) and 6’6” 225 Jalen Billups. (5.0 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 9.5 minutes) But this is another ambitious young program that is likely to become a strong addition to the ASun in relatively short order.