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The Ultimate Rankings Countdown: 283 - 269

283. Bucknell: The Bison had a very frustrating 2008-09 season that was plagued with long scoring slumps and weak defense. However, Dave Paulsen’s team looks as if it has the potential to be a dark horse for the 2009-10 season. The team will feature the combination of G.W. Boon and Patrick Behan. Boon is an electrifying scorer that has the ability to put up 20 points per game. Behan is an excellent inside scorer that can also be a rebounding threat. If Paulsen can teach his team to take advantage of scoring attempts they should be able to make a drastic improvement.

282. North Carolina A&T: Coach Jerry Eaves did a wonderful job in the 2008-09 season meshing together his veteran players with the rest of his young team. However it was in fact the veterans that acted as the glue that held the entire Aggie team together. Seniors Ed Jones and Nicholas Wilson led the offense by averaging 12.8 and 10.3 points per game respectively. The Aggies really need Tavarus Alston to step up in 2009-10 and continue to be a big scorer. I would also pay close attention to big man Thomas Coleman who averaged 6.3 rebounds per game and recorded 85 blocks.

281. Ball St.: Billy Taylor must be very impressed with the direction that his team seems to be going in. The Cardinals posted a respectable 14-17 record last year after coming off an incredibly disappointing 2007-08 season in which they finished 6-24. The team will lose seniors Brandon Lampley, Laron Frazier and Rob Giles all of who played an essential role on coach Taylors hard-nosed defense. The team will lack the experience that enabled them to control the tempo of games during the 2009-09 season. However defense is not their biggest issue. Taylor needs to find someone that can ignite the Cardinals offense and help them become a more effective shooting team.

280. Texas St.: The Bobcats look to continue their impressive play into the 2009-10 season. The 2008-09 team showed major improvement under coach Doug Davalos, finishing with a 14-16 record. However it will be incredibly difficult to carry this success over to the upcoming season as the team lost their top two scorers Brandon Bush and Brent Benson as well as starting point guard Corey Jefferson and role player Dylan Moseley. This means that Davalos will have to replace virtually all of his starters and lose a lot of depth on the bench. The teams will depend greatly on Ty Gough and Jonathan Sloan who were both much-hyped recruits two seasons ago.

279. Prairie View A&M: Many predicted that the Panthers would finish dead last in the tough SWAC. However head coach Byron Rimm believed in his team and they proved his beliefs to be right by finishing 17-16 with a 12-6 SWAC record. The team will lose Derek Johnson who was arguably one of the biggest keys to the Panthers success. Johnson added good all-around play to Rimm’s team and was able to score as well as defend. The other key player in the team’s success was Darnell Hugee who was a threat under the glass in terms of rebounding and scoring. Hugee will need to further elevate his game in order for the Panthers to have a repeat of last season.

278. Army: Jim Crews built one of the strongest defensive programs in the nation for the 2008-09 season. The team ranked second in the Patriot League and senior guard Marcus Nelson was the main reason for this. Nelson was the leagues top defender last season. On the offensive side the Black Knights look forward to see Julian Simmons return for his sophomore year. As a freshman Simmons surged by scoring 173 points, which ranks in the most by an Army freshman since Matt Bell. The Black Knights will look to improve on their 2008-09 record and this is defiantly not out of reach as they return virtually their entire team. With a little improvement on offense, the Black Knights can make a big run in 2009-10.

277. St. Francis (N.Y.): The Terriers have slowly but surely been progressing over the years. Brian Nash’s team increased their win total last year by three wins from the 2007-08 season. The team was forced to play without their top scorer Kayode Ayeni who suffered a season ending injury after only 10 games. Ricky Cadell stepped up with the loss of Ayeni and averaged 15.3 points per game, which led him to second team All-NEC honors. The 2009-10 looks very promising with the return of Cadell and Ayeni as well as the addition of the highly regarded freshman guard Darwin "Buddha" Ellis who is known to be an offensive threat.

276. Tennessee St.: New coach John Cooper has plenty of optimism going into the 2009-10 season. Last year the Tigers struggled mainly because of a lack of team chemistry and poor coaching. They took care of this by hiring John Cooper who inherits an incredibly talented team that started playing as a unit towards the end of the 2008-09 season. The team returns Gerald Robinson Jr. for his junior year. Robinson Jr. is a pure scorer that averaged 17.8 points per game. Cooper should be able utilize Robinson Jr. along with the other weapons returning to put up a major improvement in the 2009-10 season.

275. South Dakota State: Head coach Scott Nagy feels as if 2009-10 is the Jackrabbits year to show their skills and earn a bid to the big dance. In order to do so SDSU must turnaround their 7-11 conference record and win the Summit League. The young Jackrabbits team showed signs of excellence during the last several months of the 2008-09 season and Nagy says they have continued to blossom over the off-season. Nagy’s squad seemed to really struggle defensively last season and in order to change this will need strong play from Kai Williams who averaged a team high of 7.1 rebounds. Nagy will really depend on Williams presence in the paint during the 2009-10 season.

274. Northern Colorado: Tad Boyle will have his top two upperclassmen return for their final year. Jabril Banks and Will Figures were both essential to the Bears turnaround in 2008-09 when the team finished with a 14-18 record. Banks is an outstanding all-around player that can dominate the inside. Figures is able to work the perimeter making him an excellent sidekick for Banks. The two have the experience needed to lead a team and could really be essential in the Bears success in the 2009-10 season.

273. Colgate: Coach Emmett Davis found out among all the disappointment endured during the 2008-09 that he has a very promising young team. A core of young players emerged at the end of the season, which gives Davis and Raiders fans a lot of hope for the 2009-10 season. The most noticeable emergence was freshman forward Yaw Gyawu who finished as one of the Patriot League’s top scorers and shot 48.2 percent from the field. Gyawu looks to be the difference maker the Raiders need to achieve success. He will also have fellow sophomore guard Anthony Hill for assistance. Hill has a knack for finding the open man and also the ability to make it rain from beyond the arch as shown by his 32% 3-point shooting percentage.

272. UNC-Wilmington: The Seahawks had a very difficult 2008-09 season that set a Division I school record with 24 losses. The difficult season was expected due to the loss of 75% of their scoring from the 2007-08 season. However head coach Benny Moss did see several signs of hope. The first of these signs is Chad Tomko who seemed to further develop into the star player that Moss anticipated. The other is in the Xavier transfer Johnny Wolf who took on the team’s leadership role. The only thing left for Moss is to assemble a dominant front-line. He hopes to do this through Dominique Lacy who with a little bit of work might be the missing piece to the puzzle.

271. Air Force: Jeff Reynolds looks as if he will have much more work than he anticipated heading into the 2009-10 season. He was prepared to lose his top three players Andrew Henke, Anwar Johnson and Matt Holland to graduation but expected that last years impressive freshman class would be able to take over these roles. However much to his chagrin, this once promising class has gotten nearly depleted over the off-season. Trevor Noonan and guard Brandon Provost both publicly announced that they will be out of Academy for the 2009-10 season. Noonan was considered to have the most potential out of any one on the team and Falcon fans were truly excited for his future. Coach Reynolds will really have a tremendous amount of preparations in order for his team to have any chance of posting a respectable record.

270. Detroit: The Titans 2008-09 season was plagued by many close loses. In fact the team had 11 games in which they lost by less than 10 points. Many of these were games that Ray McCallum’s team had in their hands and then through poor play let slowly slip away. This year the Titans have a very young roster with many of the same players returning from last year. However the team still has much work on the offensive side of the ball before they even think about improving last year’s 7-23 record. In 2008-09 the Titans finished dead last in Horizon League in scoring (55.6 ppg), free-throw shooting (61.4%), scoring margin (-9.2), 3-point shooting (26.2), assists (10.3/game) and turnovers (16.4). All these struggles are in fact fixable however it is going to take much of the 2009-10 season before we see any turnaround from the Titans.

269. South Carolina State: The main question for the Bulldogs is how are they going to be able to respond in the 2009-10 season without Jason Johnson patrolling the paint and Jessie Burton’s play making ability? Many people though that Tim Carter’s team was the favorite to win the MEAC championship in 2008-09 but the their wheels feel off at the end and were forced to settle with a mediocre 17-14 record. The loss of Johnson will hurt them on both sides of the court as he had the rare ability to crash the boards and score in the paint. Johnson ranked 9th in the MEAC in scoring (13.8 ppg) and 1st in rebounding (8.2 reb/g), making him an irreplaceable asset. Carter will really need the senior Jason Flagler, who averaged 12.8 points per game, to elevate his game in order for the Bulldogs to have any chances of success in the 2009-10 season.