As we’ve all have heard by now, Atlantic Sun Champion and 15th seeded Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) decisively knocked off Georgetown on Friday night to become the seventh 15 seed to beat a number 2 seed since the tournament expanded to include 16 seeds in each region (1985). The fact that there have been three upsets from 15 seeds in the past two years suggests an increased amount of parity in NCAA Division I basketball.
Let’s look at Belmont, who was the cream of the crop, winning the A-Sun in five of its last seven years as a member, before departing for the Ohio Valley. We all thought the conference would be going south after that, but FGCU pulled off the huge upset that Belmont couldn’t accomplish, giving the A-Sun its first win in the NCAA tournament since 11th seeded Georgia St. (now in the CAA) defeated Wisconsin in 2001.
A-Sun runner up Mercer beat and outplayed Tennessee in the first round of the NIT this past week. Mercer also defeated Alabama and Florida State in 2012.
When it comes to talent, obviously the big boys are going to eat first (UNC, Duke etc). In regards to smaller conferences like the A-Sun, most of the time it boils down to player development. To me, the biggest advantages of getting a highly ranked high school recruit are the odds of needing a year to develop or redshirt are decreased, plus most are more naturally athletic (hence being rated higher). Some mid-major recruits perform right away, but most players in a conference like the A-Sun come to school with deficiencies and need to take a year or two before they begin to flourish. Whether it’s refining their skills on the court, in the weight room or in the classroom, once those results have been established then they have a chance to become as good as the next guy.
The A-Sun finished 26th out of the 31 Division I conferences in RPI for men’s basketball this past year, but that didn’t stop FGCU or Mercer from taking down teams from the 3rd and 8th best conferences. A good team is a good team, regardless of conference and Kennesaw State basketball should be ready to make that leap in 2013-14 with all of the new players in the mix.
Sandy Creek Patriots 5’11” Guard/Forward Chloe Branch has given a verbal commitment to play for Kennesaw State University next season. She will be the fifth Owl to join Nitra Perry’s first recruiting class.
KSU has 4 more scholarships open for next season.
Click here to view the current 2013 women’s basketball recruiting class
Click here to view the current off-season women’s basketball roster
Tripp (left) and Lewis
Edmondson-Westside senior point guard Isaiah Tripp is scheduled to take an official visit to Kennesaw State this coming weekend. Less than a week ago, the 6’2″ Tripp helped his team win the Class 2A Title in DC. In addition to KSU, he is rumored to hold offers from Boise St., UNLV, Ohio, New Mexico St., Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville. Pepperdine, George Mason and Fresno St. have shown interest.
In local news, 2014 Milton High School small forward Mo Lewis visited Kennesaw State this past weekend, according to Shun Williams on Twitter.
To see what the current roster looks like, including new additions, click here
According to the KSUOwls.com official roster, there are only five returning players remaining on the roster for the 2013-14 season. Redshirt seniors Chelcey Farrar and Lisa Capellan, sophomore Nicole Adams and juniors Kristina Wells and Bria Young. Assistant Coach Tiffani Listenbee was also taken off the coaching roster.
The biggest name on the list that didn’t graduate (Holliday and Gideon) was Chelsea Mason. She was rumored to have a public falling out with Head Coach Nitra Perry. It’s unknown what happened with the rest of the roster but they likely left on their own or just didn’t fit Coach Perry’s vision for the future.
Committed to Kennesaw State for the 2013 season. 6’8″ small forward Jordan Jones.
After watching St. Francis play in the Class A Private State Championship Game this past week, I’ve come to a few conclusions on Jordan Jones. I have little doubt that he will primarily be a small forward at the college level. Unfortunately for him, the Owls have small forwards Bernard Morena and Nigel Pruitt at the front on the depth chart. Disregarding injuries, I will say that there is a 98% chance that Jones will receive a redshirt next year. Having the option to voluntarily use a redshirt is something that KSU hasn’t had since Coach Preston arrived, and I expect it will come to fruition with experienced players already on the team.
- Great kid. Excellent character, comes from a supportive family.
- Fluid athlete.
- Has good height.
- Has good reach when going for rebounds.
- Good at finding the open man when looking to pass.
- Quick feet allow him to stay with his man on defense around the perimeter.
- Pretty good free throw shooter (71%).
- Needs to add weight/strength. Tends to get bullied down in the post on defense.
- Needs to work hard to improve his three point shot.
- Needs to finish better and much stronger around the rim (which will come from added muscle).
- Does not have a back to the basket game.
- Needs to become comfortable handling the basketball. Didn’t get a lot of chances to do so with the St. Francis offense.
Transferring to St. Francis for his senior year may have set Jones back in terms of his development. Instead of being relied upon to be a key contributor, he was playing second fiddle to their solid quartet of guards. His only responsibilities were seemingly to play defense, collect rebounds and shoot an occasional open three pointer or lay-up.
Jones is a developmental prospect right now and has plenty of time to fine tune his game over the next 20 months.
Left to right: McGillan, Slack, Smith, Morris
For the second straight season, two assistants for Kennesaw State men’s basketball have been let go. Second assistant Marty McGillan and third assistant Darryl Slack are no longer listed as coaches on the KSUOwls.com men’s basketball roster. It is unknown as to why they are not returning, but McGillan was in charge of the defense which allowed the second worst opposing field goal percentage in all of Division I college hoops (49.5%).
During the 2011-12 season, second assistant Mike Smith was let go about half-way through the season with no explanation given and third assistant Tim Morris was relieved of his duties following the season. We can draw parallels between Morris and Slack, as both were hired immediately after serving as graduate assistants for SEC/ACC schools. Smith and McGillan were both journeymen assistants.
Perhaps it is time for KSU to change things up and go with relatively young junior college or high school coaches that have a bit of experience but are also highly motivated.
Hopefully the third time will be the charm when it comes to choosing new assistants.