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The Ultimate Rankings Countdown: 298-284

298. Maine: The Black Bears look incredibly promising coming into the 2009-10 season. They return their top two scorers, Mark Socoby and Gerald McLemore who averaged 12.3 and 12.1 points respectively. Head coach Ted Woodward will have to deal with the frustrations involved with coaching a young team however, he will also be able to reap the benefits. If he can mold his 8 underclassmen to fit the rest of the team then this could be an incredibly dangerous team and make a serious run in the America East Conference.

297. Western Michigan: David Kool had a fantastic junior year finishing with a team high of 17.9 points per game. This might raise the hopes of Broncos fans for the 2009-10 season however people seem to be overlooking the loss of the teams other two top scorers Shawntes Gary and Derek Drews. The duo averaged a combined 18.2 points per game and contributed in creating open looks for Kool. Head coach Steve Hawkins will have to rely on the big man, Donald Lawson to replace these two and assist Kool.

296. New Orleans: Head coach Joe Pasternack will have to rebuild his team during the 2009-10 season. The Privateers finished with an 11-19 record just a season ago but that was mainly due to the performances from All-Sun-Belt team recipients, Kyndall Dykes and T.J. Worley. The duo accounted for 33.3 points per game, which was a large chunk of the offensive production. Pasternack is left with a very talented team however they lack the experience needed to be successful in the NCAA. 

295. South Carolina Upstate: It is always devastating when a team loses their top-performer and this is exactly what the Spartan fans are going to realize in the 2009-10 season without the sensational play of Bobby Davis. The forward averaged 14.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists during his senior year. Head coach Eddie Payne will turn to the big 7’ 3" center Nick Schneiders to try and increase his production and dominate and undersized conference. The biggest fault of Schneiders is his lack of endurance in which he will need to improve upon in order to become an impact player.

294. Centenary: The Centenary Gentlemen really struggled down the home stretch of the 2008-09 season winning only 1 of their last 10 games. Greg Gary is set to lose top-scorer Nick Stallings who averaged 15.3 points a game. The upside for Gary is that he has a very promising guard in Chase Adams that is capable of immediately taking over Stallings role. Adams has proven that he can be a threat on offense by averaging 14.6 points per game during the 2008-09 season. It is just unclear if Adams has the aggressiveness that is necessary to be feared on the defensive end.

293. Georgia Southern: The Eagles return to the 2009-10 season with virtually the same team that they had last year. Their only departure was Julian Allen who although no superstar contributed a steady 11.9 points per game along with 6.7 rebounds. The Eagles expect a big year from Ben Dayton III who enters his sophomore year. Head coach Jeff Price expects Dayton III to play a major role in the Eagles offense this upcoming season.

292. Cal State Bakersfield: Head coach Keith Brown is flying high as he has his top two scorers coming back for the 2009-10 season. Trent Blakley who averaged 13.4 points per game and Santwon Latunde who averaged 11 points per game will return for their senior year. The veteran duo will be lethal on each end of the court and should help the Roadrunners improve their 8-21 record from a year ago. Brown’s team struggled last season with taking advantage of scoring opportunities however they have matured greatly from last year, meaning we should expect to see a drastic improvement.

291. Columbia: The loss of Jason Miller is going to be difficult to overcome. Miller was a talented inside-man that pulled in 6.6 rebounds to go along with 9.8 points per game. The sophmore guard Noruwa Agho should do a sufficient job making up for Miller on offense but Agho is more of a perimeter player so the post play will still be down. The only solution to the post game is if head coach Joe Jones can get Asenso Ampim to perform well on a consistent basis. Ampim has the size and strength to be an inside presence however he seems to lack the aggressiveness.

290. Fordham: Last years freshman sensation Jio Fontan returns for his sophomore year. The Atlantic-10 All Rookie averaged a team high of 15.3 points along with 4.7 assists per game during the 2008-09 season. Fontan’s presence should assure the Rams a high-octane offense, however it is the defensive side that head coach Dereck Whittenburg has to be worried about. The team will lose last years defensive threat; Chris Bethel who averaged a team high of 6.5 rebounds along with 1.3 steals per game. With out Bethel the Rams are going to need another person to step up and act as the bolt that holds the defense together.

289. Louisiana-Monroe: Head coach Orlando Early comes into the 2009-10 season with a chip on his shoulder from the disappointing 10-20 record last season. The Warhawks seemed to struggle immensely in conference play as they wrapped the season up with a 6-12 record in the Sun Belt. However this is a new year and Early’s young team has had plenty of time to mature in the offseason. One of the biggest tools they have is Rudy Turner who averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in just 24.1 minutes per game in 2008-09. If he can perfect his midrange game as well as become a bit more aggressive under the glass, I firmly believe that we will see big improvement from the Warhawks.

288. Central Michigan: The Chippewas are set to lose seniors Marcus Van and Chris Kellermann. Van played an essential role for the Chippewas last year as their leading scorer and team leader. There is a lot of hope for the team as they return for the 2009-10 season with a very experienced team. If coach Ernie Zeigler can find a replacement for the two seniors then the Chippewas will be in excellent shape to improve upon their 12-19 record from the 2008-09 season.

287. Elon: The Phoenix will have virtually entirely different team than that of the 2008-09 season. Not only do they lose their three top players in Monty Sanders, Ola Atoyebi and Brett James but also their coach of six years Ernie Nestor. Nestor had a 77-117 record and only one winning season during his tenure. The Phoenix hired Matt Matheny to take control of the young team led by junior Chris Long. The 6-2 guard is a great all around player but is not really the go-to players that all successful teams have. Although this year looks to be a rebuilding season I believe the Phoenix will show a great deal of improvement.

286. UNC-Greensboro: The Spartans are one of the few teams in the NCAA that have their entire roster from the 2008-09 season returning for the upcoming 2009-10 season. This could really work out to their advantage for the obvious reasons however, the team was in a similar position going into the 2008-09 season after losing only one senior and they ended up struggling, finishing with a 4-25 record.

285. Eastern Illinois: The once young and sporadic Panthers come into the 2009-10 season as a well-developed team. Mike Miller is in a great position as he only lost one player from last season’s roster. The team will boast 6 seniors including last years leading scorer Romain Martin who finished 8th in the Ohio Valley Conference averaging 15.4 points per game. Another senior that will make a major impact is the 6’ 8" center Ousmane Cisse who is a threat not only under the boards where he averages 7.5 rebounds but also in the paint where he scored 8 points per game just a season ago.

284. Norfolk State: The red-hot Spartans closed out the 2008-09 season winning 5 of their last six games to turnaround their disappointing first half of the season and finish with a 14-18 record. The main spark of this run was guard Michael Deloach who averaged 21.5 points per game which was not only good enough to lead the team but the MEAC as well. The downside is that Deloach and the Spartans 2nd leading scorer Corey Lyons both graduated. Head coach Anthony Evans needs young guns such as Aleek Pauline to step up to keep the scorching Spartan offense rolling into the 2009-10 season.