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October 8, 2010
League preview: Southland
We continue with our league breakdowns for the upcoming season; we'll work backward from league No. 32 to our top-ranked league.
The breakdowns will become more in-depth as the leagues get bigger.
By Joe Rexrode
The Southland Conference has more star power than a year ago, if nothing else.
Central Arkansas fired coach Rand Chappell right after the season and hired Corliss Williamson -- the former Arkansas great and NBA journeyman -- just a week later to head up a program that becomes eligible for Division I postseason play this season.
It may not be long before Williamson, 36, uses his name (call him Coach Big Nasty) to upgrade the Bears' roster and turn them into a league contender, but he'll be looking up at most of the rest of the league during his debut season.
At the top, Williamson should see Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State duking it out again for an NCAA bid. Sam Houston State won the league tourney last season, then gave Elite Eight-bound Baylor a bit of a scare in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
One difference this season is that the Bearkats and Lumberjacks will be in the same division, the West. The league's rotating divisions become permanent this season, and for now the West is much stronger than the East.
Another difference is that Sam Houston State will make its run without Bob Marlin, the 12-year coach who went 225-131 with the Bearkats before leaving to take the coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette. School officials promoted assistant Jason Hooten, and he hopes star forward Gilberto Clavell can help return the Bearkats to the NCAAs.
The Lumberjacks should be considered the favorites, with Eddie Williams making plays outside and Jereal Scott inside. After that, athletic forward Cameron Johnson makes Texas State a contender, senior forward Demond Watt leads a dangerous Texas A&M-Corpus Christi team and Lamar is looking to play up to its talent level and expectations.
Junior college guard Michael James will help Lamar, which should battle Southeastern Louisiana for the top spot in the weaker East division. Nicholls State could surprise there with Australian guard Anatoly Bose, who led the league in scoring at 21.1 points per game last season.
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