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October 17, 2011
League preview: Southern
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.
Mike Young is entering his 10th season as Wofford coach and is coming off back-to-back Southern Conference titles and NCAA tournament berths.
But he's never faced a season quite the one he is about to embark on in 2011-12.
Wofford must replace four starters - including all-conference F Noah Dahlman and the league's top rebounder in F Tim Johnson - and each played a major role in the Terriers' 47-22 record the past two seasons.
A three-peat seems unlikely, but not impossible, for the Terriers. Senior G Brad Loesing returns; he has started 97 of 99 games in his career, and his leadership will be key. Senior G Kevin Giltner is a solid 3-point shooter, and F Drew Crowell is good around the rim. The Terriers also need sophomore F Domas Rinksalis, who sat out last season as a redshirt, and freshman F Jarell Byrd to make an immediate impact.
Still, that may not be enough to catch Davidson for the South Division title. Four starters return for the Wildcats, led by junior G J.P. Kuhlman and junior F Jake Cohen, and seven of the top eight scorers last season were either freshmen or sophomores. The Wildcats have gone only 34-30 in the two seasons since Stephen Curry graduated, but they could be ready to break out in 2011-12.
The College of Charleston, which had the best regular-season record in the league last season, can be a title contender even though all-league G Andrew Goudelock (a second-round NBA draft pick) is gone. That's if incoming freshman C Adjehi Baru, a four-star prospect and the No. 28 overall player in the 2011 recruiting class, is eligible; the Cougars still are waiting to hear from the NCAA. If Baru is eligible, he will be a force along with F Trent Wiedeman, who is coming off an impressive freshman season. If not, it will be another hit to the Cougars' frontcourt. Junior F Willis Hall tore the ACL in his left knee on Oct. 7 and will miss the season.
The North Division also looks like a three-team race: Chattanooga, Western Carolina and Appalachian State.
Chattanooga returns four starters, including all-league F Omar Wattad and Gs Keegan Bell and Ricky Taylor. Western Carolina lost all-league G Mike Williams, but expect G Trey Sumler to pick up more of the scoring load. Appalachian State can win the North title if C Isaac Butts, who sat out last season with a knee injury, can come back and have a big season. But there are doubts about whether he can stay healthy. There is no doubt about all-league G Omar Carter, who will be key to the Mountaineers' title hopes.
There also is no doubt Wofford won't give up the SoCon title without a fight.
ALL-SOUTHERN FIRST TEAM
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