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Writers Wanted



Teams Going to Their First Dance

Coaches Week

NCAA Conference Tournament Week

by Blair Morris, March 10th, 2003


Is this your first dance too?

I remember my first dance like it was just yesterday; yes, that memorable eighth grade dance. I was dateless, just entering an awkward stage of my life, and couldn’t keep a beat in my head, so you can only guess what I was doing on that dance floor. Pure embarrassment now that I think about it. However, for seven teams this year in the NCAA Tournament, their first dance might be less, or more, embarrassing than mine.


In a little game I’ve named “Get to know them before their 40-miutes are up”, we’ll be looking at these seven new faces to the NCAA Tournament.



UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (14-16)

Big South Conference

Region: South

Seed: 16a


The Bulldogs, coached by Eddie Biedenbach, won their conference automatic bid by beating Radford, 85-71, in the Big South Tournament final. The Bulldogs are the 17th team, all-time, to qualify for the NCAA Tournament with a losing record. The last team to do was Siena in 2002, who actually won the play-in game.

As a team, the Bulldogs average: 72.2 points/game; 35.7 rebounds/game; 13.5 assists/game; 7.2 steals/game; 3.1 blocks/game; 16.4 turnovers/game; .435 FG%; .764 FT%; .366 3-point %.


Starters: 10 Andre Smith, G (6-2)

11 Alex Kragel, G (6-2)

15 Bryan McCallough, F (6-6)

41 Ben McGonagil, C (6-11)

42 Joseph Barber, F (6-9)


The Bulldogs will play (16b) Texas Southern in the play-in game, Tuesday, March 18.



IUPUI Jaguars (20-13)

Mid-Continent Conference

Region: Midwest

Seed: 16


The Jaguars, coached by Ron Hunter, gain an automatic bid into the NCCA Tournament by upsetting Valparaiso, 66-64. In case you’re wondering, IUPUI is short for Indiana University-Purdue University - Indianapolis. The Jaguars’ guard, Matt Crenshaw, is also the oldest play currently in division one basketball, 26.

As a team, the Jaguars average: 71.5 points/game; 32.9 rebounds/game; 13.5 assists/game; 8.5 steals/game; 1.8 blocks/game; 16 turnovers/game; .452 FG%; .699 FT%; .345 3-point %.


Starters: 21 Matt Crenshaw, G (6-3)

24 Josh Mullins, F (6-5)

25 Josh Murray, F (6-7)

33 Chris Sander, F (6-5)

40 Odell Bradley, G (6-4)


The Jaguars will play (1) Kentucky, Friday, March 21, 12:30 p.m. (EST).


Sam Houston State Bearkats (23-6)

Southland Conference

Region: South

Seed: 15


No, Bearkats is not a spelling error. Bearkats is the official spelling of the school’s mascot. Coach Bob Marlin and the Bearkats earned their automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by beating Stephen F. Austin, 69-66, in the Southland finals.

The Bearkats are average (on the season): 73.4 points/game; 37 rebounds/game; 16.4 assists/game; 8.7 steals/game; 5.8 blocks/game; 15.8 turnovers/game; .464 FG%; .707 FT%; .359 3-point %.


Starters: 4 Jay Oliphant, F (6-5)

20 Robert Shannan, G (5-11)

32 Felton Freeman, G (6-5)

33 Eddy Fobbs, C (6-11)

44 Donald Cole, F (6-8)


Sam Houston State will play (2) Florida, Friday, March 21, 9:40 p.m. (EST).



Vermont Catamounts (21-11)

America East Conference

Region: West

Seed: 16


The Catamounts received their automatic bid with a major upset over Boston University, 56-55, in the American East final. Their 21-win season ties a school record; and maybe there’s no other coach that deserved this kind of Cinderella season like coach Tom Brennan. Seventeen season with the Catamounts, and this is his first chance to dance. Congrats, coach Brennan!

On the year, the Catamounts are averaging 69.5 points/game; 39.4 rebounds/game; 14.5 assists/game; 6.9 steals/game; 3.1 blocks/game; 14.1 turnovers/game; .451 FG%; .663 FT%; .347 3-point %.


Starters: 22 Taylor Coppenrath, F (6-9)

24 David Hehn, G (6-5)

32 German Hjila, F (6-4)

42 Grant Anderson, F (6-7)

52 Matt Sheftic, C (6-8)


The Catamounts will face (1) Arizona on Thursday, March 20, 3:10 p.m. (EST).



Wagner Seahawks (21-10)

Northeast Conference

Region: Midwest

Seed: 15


The Seahawks, coached by Derek Whittenburg, advanced to the NCAA Tournament by defeating St. Francis (NY), 78-61. Senior, Jermaine Hall, is forth among all active Division 1 players in career scoring. Senior, Dedrick Dye, is the Seahawks all-time three-point shooter, and a third team academic All-American.

On the season, the Seahawks average: 75.5 points/game; 34.4 rebounds/game; 16.1 assists/game; 7.5 steals/game; 2.8 blocks/game; 15 turnovers/game; .472 FG%; .729 FT%; .384 3-point %.


Starters: 5 Dedrick Dye, G (6-0)

12 Courtney Pritchard, G (6-0)

21 Nigel Wyatte, F (6-9)

24 Jermaine Hall, F (6-5)

33 Teoine Carroll, G (6-2)


The Seahawks will look for an upset again (2) Pittsburgh, Friday, March 21, 7:10 p.m. (EST).



Troy State Trojans (26-5)

Atlantic Sun Conference

Region: South

Seed: 14


Coach Don Maestri and the Trojans won their conference championship over Central Florida, 80-69. The Trojans lead the nation in 3-pointers made. The Trojans may be one of the best-conditioned team in the country. The Trojans will run you off the court if you’re not ready.

One the season, the Trojans are averaging: 80.5 points/game; 40.4 rebounds/game; 15.5 assists/game; 9.8 steals/game; 5.2 blocks/game; 15.8 turnovers/game; .464 FG%; .707 FT%; .339 3-point %.


Starters: 10 Greg Davis, G (6-1)

15 Ben Fletcher, G (6-3)

25 Marcus Milhouse, F (6-4)

31 Rob Lewin, F (6-7)

32 Lacedrick Pettway, C (6-6)


The Trojans will take on (3) Xavier, Friday, March 21, 7:25 p.m. (EST).



Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers (24-7)

Horizon Conference

Region: West

Seed: 12


Coach Bruce Pearl’s Panthers advance to the NCAA Tournament by upsetting Butler in the Horizon Conference championship game. The Panthers will play full-court defense, the entire game. Honestly, there might be a reason I saved the Panthers for last. They might just be the best newcomer to the NCAA Tournament this year; and with their 12-seed in the West Region, they might have the best shot to make it to the second round, or farther.

On the season, the Panthers average: 77.3 points/game; 34.5 rebounds/game; 17.9 assists/game; 8.8 steals/game; 3.6 blocks/game; 14.9 turnovers/game; .476 FG%; .691 FT%; .354 3-point %.


Starters: 5 Ronnie Jones, G (5-9)

15 Dylan Page, F (6-8)

24 Jason Frederick, G (6-4)

30 Clay Tucker, F (6-3)

33 Justin Lettenberger, (6-5)


The Panthers will take on (5) Notre Dame, Thursday, March 20, 9:40 p.m. (EST).


Getting to your first dance is only half the battle, the rest is what you do with this opportunity. Maybe we’ll see the first ever upset when a 16-seed beats an 1-seed out of this group, don’t hold your breath though. The only team that I think has a chance making it to the second round out of these seven is Wisconsin-Milwaukee. However, I don’t want to take anything away from all the other teams that has made their first appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament, this is a great feet; the players before these kids can tell you what a one in a lifetime experience this is. Have fun, good luck to all teams, and let the MADNESS begin.



EMAIL: Blair Morris






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