Ultimate Rankings Countdown: 268 - 254

268. Wagner: Veteran coach Mike Deane is coming off his second straight winning season with the Seahawks in which he finished with a respectable 16-14 record. The team saw its fair share of ups and downs but overall they could not expect much more. However, Deane is going to be hard pressed to continue his winning streak beyond the 2009-10 season. The Seahawks will lose four of last year’s starting-five. These four starters; Joey Mundweiler, Jamal Smith, Llew Radford and Justin Drummond were responsible for a staggering 72% of the teams offensive production. This is a big blow to the Wagner team and it will take a while for Deane to rebuild the program.

267. Valparaiso: Homer Drew’s team looked as if they were going to be the Horizon League’s elite team at the start of the 2008-09 season. However the Crusaders ended up disappointing all their supporters by finishing 9-22 with a 5-14 conference record. Things look as if they will get a lot worse as Drew is set to lose his two senior leaders in Urule Igavboa and Jake Diebler. These two were not only the team’s top performers on the court but also led the team off the court as well. With the loss of these two it looks as if the Crusaders struggling offense (60.1 ppg) will be even weaker come the tip-off of the 2009-10 season. 

266. Hampton: The 2008-09 Hampton team was incredibly young and inexperienced and coach Kevin Nickelberry was well aware of this. The team consisted of five freshmen and only two seniors. Nickelberry never seemed to really connect with his young players and this was mostly likely the cause of his resignation subsequent to the season. Now that he has bailed this young team will have to start from scratch yet again with interim head coach Edward Joyner calling the shots. Expect many big wins but also many devastating loses from this Pirates team. They will have to learn a new style of play, which will be a major setback in their on-court developmental process.

265. Marist: The Red Foxes showed signs of promise at times during the 2008-09 season but ultimately ended with a 10-23 record. Coach Chuck Martin will return for his second year in Poughkeepsie but still has a lot of work to do before getting his team to where he wants them to be. Martin took over a very unmotivated team and quickly changed them into hard-working athletes. He will face a major holdup as he loses the teams top players Ryan Schneider and guard Kaylen Gregory. Schneider led the team last year in scoring, averaging 15.9 points per game. Martin will have a very young team with no standout leader, causing them to drop off a bit from last year.

264. Tennessee Tech: The Golden Eagles started off the season scorching hot as they were victorious in six of their first eight games. However the team quickly began to cool down and by the end of the season they were ice-cold, losing eight of their final nine games. The Eagles struggled on both sides of the ball but more noticeably on defense where they ranked 7th in the OVC by allowing 73 points per game. Mike Sutton is going to have to really turn this team around to maintain his position as head coach. He will have to do so without Daniel Northern who led the team with 12.6 points per game along with 8.8 rebounds. Players like Northern are very difficult to replace, leaving Sutton with a lot of work before the 2009-10 season.

263. Campbell: The Fighting Camels looked as if they began a new chapter in their basketball program in the 2008-09 season. They had a roster that showed a lot of promise, consisting of eight new players and not one single senior. They finished conference play at 11-9 marking their first winning record in the Atlantic Sun. The 11 wins marked a five game improvement from there six in 2008-09. Coach Robbie Laing was able to put together a lethal bunch of sharpshooters that finished with a 35.5% from beyond the arch. The Fighting Camels are pleased to return their leading scorer Jonathan Rodriguez (15.6 ppg) for the upcoming season. They might be able to make a legitimate run at the conference title if they carry over their lights out shooting from a year ago.

262. Penn: The Quakers had high hopes heading into the 2008-09 season. Glen Miller’s crew was almost a unanimous pick to be a contender for the Ivy League championship. The Quakers seemed to not be able to handle the pressure and ended the year with a 10-18 record mainly due to their poor performance at home in conference play. Last years team was fairly young and seemed promising for the upcoming season. This all changed when their top young player Harrison Gaines announced his intentions of transferring. Gaines scored 9.9 points per game in 2008-09 and was one of the few players that continuously played to his full ability.

261. Southern Utah: Things are on the upside in Cedar City, UT. The Thunderbirds are looking better and showing improvement year-after-year. The team has a top-notch player in Davis Baker coming back to run the SUU offense. Barker averaged a team high of 17.4 points per game making him one of the nations top-100 scorers in 2008-09. The only question for the Thunderbirds is if head coach Roger Reid can assemble a supporting cast to help Baker take the team to the next level. As we all no there is no "I" in team and with out a little help I do not believe SUU will be able to make any improvement.

260. Jacksonville St.: Last years leading scorer Jeremy Bynum will have fine tune his game over the offseason in order for the Gamecocks to have any hopes of a successful 2009-10 season. Bynum will lose two of his fellow starters as Jonathan Toles and DeAndre Bray both graduated last spring. Head coach James Green’s main focus seems to be on tightening up the team’s weak defense. Last season the Gamecocks allowed opponents to shoot 45.9% and average 71 points per game. They have a solid recruiting class coming in that Green feels will be the missing piece to the puzzle.

259. SMU: A disappointing 2008-09 should not put a damper on the Mustangs high hopes for this year. The team will only suffer one loss, big man Bamba Fall to graduation. This means that they will bring back a lot of experience. I would keep an eye out for Paul McCoy who returns to Dallas, TX for his sophomore year. As a freshman McCoy led the team with 13.4 points per game. Another player that has the potential of a great season is point guard Derek Williams. He was not only an impressive scorer but also led the team with 3.5 assists per game.

258. Bethune-Cookman: Clifford Reed Jr. has finally found his go-to guy on offense. Ironically enough it is his son C.J. Reed who proved to be the needed spark to ignite the Wildcat scoring. C.J. averaged 15 points and 3.9 assists per game and looks as if he is capable of putting up even higher numbers this year. The team will lose two role players in Tobias Malone and Kevan Creppy but they were more additional depth and did not play a major role for the team. The only thing standing in the Wildcats way is a much-improved Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. It will be difficult to overcome the increased level of competition but I would not rule anything out with this father-son combo.

257. Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks struggled throughout the 2008-09 season with ice-cold shooting. The team was not able to step up to the challenging defenses from their in-conference rivals and this caused them to fall 5-9 in the Patriot League. They will need big play from Zahir Carrington. He is perfectly capable of this as he averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game finishing fourth and first in the conference, respectively. Although Carrington is clearly very talented, I am not sure if he is the kind of player that can carry a team by himself. If the Mountain Hawks continue to shoot the ball poorly they will continue with their ever so frequent losing streaks, simple as that.

256. Savannah St.: The Tigers ended the 2008-09 season with a middle-of-the-road 15-14 record. Horace Broadnax’s team will have to find someone to take over for the team’s top-player Chris Linton. Linton led the team in both scoring (9.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg). The absence of Linton will be a setback for the Tigers and could put them a couple steps back from last season. In order to continue to improve, Broadnax will need strong play from his sophomore forward Rashad Hassan. Last season Hassan finished second on the team in scoring and if he gets more aggressive could become a force under the boards. It is going to be a difficult task for the Tigers to lockdown a winning record in 2009-10 but it is defiantly not out of reach.

255. Arkansas St.: It looked as if the Red Wolves were going to have a very promising 2008-09 season as they got out to a 13-7 start. All of a sudden the tempo changed and John Brady’s team found themselves on many losing streaks. The team lacked an offensive presence and finished the season shooting a dismal 43% from the floor. This was mainly due to forced shots and it looks as if the loss of point guard Ifeanyi Koggu will make this matter even worse. Koggu was not necessarily a scoring threat but he did posses the ability to find the open man. Brady will need his star player Donald Boone to expand his game from being solely a scorer to a solid all-around player. This will be a difficult transition for Boone and could take some time before he fully blossoms.

254. UC-Davis: Head coach Gary Stewart will be in search of a scoring threat during the off-season. The Aggies will lose their top player Vince Oliver who was one of the main reasons that the Aggies were even able to win 13 games last season. Oliver is an electrifying scorer that can get it done in the paint or behind the arch. The loss of such a valuable component of the team will be very difficult and in order to bounce back they will need strong play from Joe Harden. As a sophomore Harden averaged 14.8 points per game but it will be interesting to see if he can do this again without Oliver’s presence on the court.

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