We continue our conference previews with the SoCon. We have hosted a preview Twitter Space twice a week streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
For the full SoCon Twitter Space, hit the link below:
To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness writer Nick Lorensen recapped what happened in the SoCon last season and so far this offseason.
In Chattanooga, the Mocs mowed through conference play before advancing to the NCAA Tournament on a half-court buzzer-beater by David Jean-Baptiste. The Lamont Paris-led squad held a lead over Illinois for the better part of 39 minutes in the NCAA Tournament before falling by one point. Paris moved on to the University of South Carolina shortly after, as former VMI head coach Dan Earl took over.
The team they beat in the SoCon Tournament finals returns nearly everyone and are slated to be one of the best teams in mid-major basketball, Furman. Bob Richey will look to take the Paladins to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.
To open the conversation with coaches, Dan Earl (12:55) joined to speak about his new program. He brings along a couple of assistants from VMI and their top two players, Jake Stephens and Honor Huff. Stephens sits at 6-foot-11 and was the third-best 3-point shooter in the country, shooting 50% last season.
“It’s been awesome, to be honest with you. Really thrilled and fortunate to have both those guys,” Earl said. “For guys to know our terminology, the way we run things, our expectations, there’s going to be a learning curve there. I think Jake and Honor can both help everyone else with that learning curve.”
Earl ran one of the quickest and most efficient offenses in the country at VMI.
Following him, Richey (39:20) joined to speak about his preseason favorite Paladins. Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson return after testing the NBA Draft waters.
“It was pretty clear that they both wanted to come back,” Richey said. “We were excited to have them back. I love those two kids like my own. Just really to be honest with you, just grateful to have another year to coach them.”
Joe Lunardi has the Paladins slated at a 12-seed in his current bracketology.
Nick then continued the conversation by previewing the rest of the teams in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
30:40 — ETSU
35:25 — Mercer
1:03:20 — Samford
1:05:40 — The Citadel
1:09:00 — UNCG
1:12:10 — VMI
1:15:50 — Western Carolina
1:19:45 — Wofford
1:23:30 — POTY & Title Predictions
Along with the Twitter Space, Nick talked to both UNCG head coach Mike Jones and Wofford head coach Jay McAuley. To listen to both interviews, click the links: Mike Jones Interview; Jay McAuley Interview.