SoCon leader hopes to dump divisions

SoCon leader hopes to dump divisions

February 29th, 2012 by David Uchiyama in Sports - College

Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino.


Player of the year: De'Mon Brooks (Davidson)

Coach of the year: Bob McKillop (Davidson)

Freshman of the year: Karl Cochran (Wofford)

Defensive player of the year: Brad Loesing (Wofford)

All-conference team: Trent Wiedeman, Antwaine Wiggins (Charleston); Mike Groselle (Citadel); De'Mon Brooks, Jake Cohen (Davidson); Jack Isenbarger (Elon); Eric Ferguson (Ga. Southern); Trevis Simpson (UNCG); Kevin Giltner, Brad Loesing (Wofford)

All-freshman team: Adjehi Baru (Charleston); Austin Hamilton (Elon); Tyler Hood, Raijon Kelly (Samford); Karl Cochran (Wofford)

Southern Conference officials and school administrators will take a hard look at the men's basketball schedule during the league's spring meetings.

Commissioner John Iamarino would like to eliminate the divisional format that grants first-round byes in the SoCon tournament for the top two teams in each division.

"I've never been a fan of the divisions," Iamarino said. "If we could come up with a system that did away with the divisions but kept the rivalries, you could build those into a schedule."

Iamarino said he is in favor of an 18-game unbalanced schedule in which most teams would meet twice but some would play just once a year. The top four teams would earn first-round byes in the SoCon tournament, which would enhance the chances of one of the four best teams through the season advancing to the NCAA tournament.

This year, Elon earned a bye after finishing the SoCon season 9-9, while Georgia Southern won 12 SoCon games and must play in the first round. College of Charleston, the No. 4 seed from the South, also will need to win four games in four days to advance to the NCAA tournament after going 10-8 in the conference.

"Georgia Southern has had a really good year," said Wofford coach Mike Young, whose team earned a bye with a 12-6 league record. "That's not fair for them to have to play one more day. While I and others can give you reasons why we should stay with divisions, I can give you more reasons it's high time we went to one division."

In 2009 Wofford went 12-8 in the SoCon and earned the No. 4 seed from the South Division. That same year, Western Carolina and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga shared the North Division byes at 11-9, but the Terriers had to play in the first round while the Mocs and Catamounts rested.

"I feel certain this will be on the coaches' agenda in May," Iamarino said. "It can be done. Other leagues do it."

UTC needs youth

UTC freshman Ronrico White showed he was ready to compete in the SoCon early this season by scoring 11 points against the College of Charleston back in December.

White and the other Mocs youngsters will need to play critical reserve rolls for the team to advance through the tournament.

"We knew from the get-go that those guys were going to help us out," UTC senior Keegan Bell said. "They're really stepping up, and they're going to have to if we're going to play four games in four days."

Freshman wing Lance Stokes has started seven games and freshman post Jared Bryant has started once and averages 10.7 minutes per game.

"We have enough depth," coach John Shulman said. "We've got multiple guys who can play."

Tops until stopped

Wofford is the two-time defending SoCon tournament champion and had respectable showings in the NCAA tournament each year.

Wofford lost 74-66 to Jimmer Fridette and BYU last year and 53-49 to Jordan Taylor and Wisconsin in 2010.

"We are king of the jungle until somebody gets us," Young said. "We were left dead and buried when things started."

Neutral court nice

Furman upset top-seeded UTC in the quarterfinals of the SoCon tournament last year when it was held in the Mocs' home arena, but the Mocs had earned NCAA tournament bids on their home court in 2005 and '09.

This year the neutral court and neutral city, Asheville, make everything, well, neutral.

"We used it more as a motivating force, and maybe it got us more focused," Furman coach Jeff Jackson said. "I like that we're playing on a neutral floor.

Awards announced

No UTC players received season-ending honors voted on by the men's coaches.

Davidson forward De'Mon Brook is player of the year, Davidson coach Bob McKillop is coach of the year, Wofford senior Brad Loesing is defensive player of the year and Wofford guard Karl Cochran is freshman of the year.