UNC Greensboro Spartans
Overall Rank: #91
Conference Rank: #2 Southern
2006-07: 16-14, 12-6, 2nd North
2006-07 postseason: none
The one thing lacking at UNC Greensboro is size. Kyle Hines at 6-6 and Ben Stywall at 6-5 started most of the games up front last year and will again this season. Hines is the superstar of the Southern Conference that nobody has ever heard of. As a junior, he averaged 20.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals and those numbers should get even better for his senior campaign. Stywall had a great freshman season. He will not do a lot of scoring, but is a tough rebounder. Matt Akinosho and Pete Brown have a little more height and will provide the depth in the frontcourt.
The 6-11 Bart Tooms earned a few starts when the Spartans needed some more height on the floor, but still averaged less than ten minutes per contest. Ricky Hickman was the second leading scorer on the team with 14.3 points per game during his senior campaign. While the scoring will definitely be missed, Hickman had some turnover issues and had a horrendous shooting year from behind the arc. Shooting 27.8 percent from long range is alright, but not for a shooting guard who took nearly six attempts a game from three point land. Everson Simmons is transferring and little used perimeter players Gregory Vlazny and Donald Moore have run out of eligibility.
A little depth up front will be helpful for the 2007-2008 campaign, but rebuilding the frontline for the future is more important. With Sam Mason, DeAngelo Jackson and Darrius Sellers, the Spartans handled both. At 6-10, Mason will immediately provide a big body under the basket and has enough quickness to run the floor. Jackson’s athleticism and Sellers’ rebounding ability will get them playing time sooner or later. Shooting guard Landon Clement is a prolific scorer and Daniel Oliver is not a bad scorer either. However, Oliver’s point guard skills are what will find him some playing time in an experienced backcourt.
Who to Watch:
The Spartans have a trio of part-time starters on the wing and a great senior point guard in Dwayne Johnson. Johnson will not do much scoring, but will always do a solid job controlling tempo and finding his teammates. Senior Kevin Oleksiak has started a majority of the games over the last two seasons and is a decent scorer, but he may be relegated to the bench if a couple sophomores can continue to improve. Mikko Koivisto and Kendall Toney had good freshmen campaigns and are already the best shooters on the team. Koivisto and Toney might be best suited as sharpshooters off the bench, but once they gain enough strength and confidence to drive to the rim, they will be big time scorers.
After going 12-6 in conference last year, UNC Greensboro is ready to make another run in the SoCon. Hines is the key to this team and as long as he does not start looking ahead to his post collegiate career and take too many outside shots, the team will be among the conference elite. A little work on the charity stripe for Hinds, who got to the line nearly eight times a game last year, would be helpful as well. The Spartans have a great senior inside-outside combination, but are still a relatively young team. The leaders were the leaders last year, so playing that role should not be an issue for Johnson and Hinds. If the sophomores develop as much as they should after a year in the program, the Spartans will be a force to contend with. With the emergence of Davidson as a top 25 caliber team, the Southern Conference will spend a little more time than usual in the national spotlight and it is a great opportunity for the entire conference and the Spartans to make their mark on the national scene. As long as Davidson does as well as expected, the entire conference RPI will be on the rise.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Dwayne Johnson, Senior, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Kendall Toney, Sophomore, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Mikko Koivisto, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Ben Stywal, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 points per game
Kyle Hines, Senior, Forward, 20.9 points per game