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November 5, 2008

Preseason Sun Belt superlatives

What shooter does every Sun Belt team fear? Who is the most ferocious rebounder in the league? Who can dribble and pass circles around opponents?

We answer those questions and more in our preseason edition of Sun Belt basketball superlatives.

Best shooter

Collin Dennis- The North Texas senior is the guy the Mean Green turn to when they need instant offense and he's our pick as the Sun Belt's deadliest marksman. Dennis hit 42.1 percent of his 3-point attempts last season and is also a very good free throw shooter.

Also keep an eye on: Kevin Kanaskie-Middle Tennessee

Best rebounder

Carlos Monroe-Monroe is a no brainer pick for this spot. The Florida Atlantic star and potential Sun Belt Player of the Year candidate was the league's top rebounder last year and nearly averaged an even 10 rebounds per game. His 9.7 rebounds per game in conference play was even higher than his regular season total for all games. Monroe makes opponents account for him every single time the ball goes up.

Also keep an eye on: DeAndre Coleman - South Alabama

Best offensive rebounder

Shawn Morgan-The Arkansas State senior was a phenomenal offensive rebounder last season. Even though he is only 6-foot-6, Morgan is relentless on the offensive glass. Not only did he lead the league in offensive rebounds (96), he did it while playing just 28 minutes per game. That equates to an astonishing average of more than one offensive rebound for every 10 minutes of game action, a tremendous ratio. Morgan had nearly as many offensive rebounds as he did defensive rebounds.

Also keep an eye on: Brandon Davis-South Alabama

Best perimeter defender

Tony Hooper-The senior from Louisiana-Monroe gets most of his attention due to his offensive skills, but Hooper is also very adepth defensively. He is very crafty defensively and knows when to attack passing lanes. Even though he is less than six feet tall, Hooper can hound a ball handler and use his quick hands to generate turnovers and upset an offense's rhythm.

Also keep an eye on: Michael Vogler-Troy

Best post defender

Russell Hicks-The Florida International big man easily paced the Sun Belt last year in blocked shots and he altered a countless number of others while patrolling the lane. A true 7-footer, Hicks needs to do a better job staying out of foul trouble, but he should be helped this year by the arrival of fellow big man Freddy Asprilla, who is expected to make an immediate impact.

Also keep an eye on: Jeremy Evans-Western Kentucky

Best post offensive player

Desmond Yates-The preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year has an inside-outside offensive game, but he's nearly unstoppable in the paint area in a 1-on-1 setting. With his back to the basket, Yates is good with the jump hook and turn around, but he also can use a variety of moves to get to the rim and knows how to use the glass as well.

Also keep an eye on: Brandon Davis-South Alabama

Best ball handler

Nigel Johnson-The Middle Tennessee senior may have the best open court skills of any player in the league. Johnson just needs to show he can be a consistent performer this year to separate himself into the Sun Belt's elite performers. He can break presses by himself and is very skilled dribbling off of ball screens.

Also keep an eye on: Josh White-North Texas

Best passer

Michael Vogler-The junior Troy guard is the league's leading returning assist man. He went somewhat underappreciated last year playing for a bad team and overshadowed by backcourt mate O'Darian Bassett. Vogler also led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, so he was also intelligent with his passing.

Also keep an eye on: Carderro Nwoji-Florida Atlantic

Player you want on the foul line down the stretch

Josh White-The sophomore from North Texas is not the returning free throw shooting leader in the conference, but he is very near the top at 84.8 percent. Of last year's top five free throw shooters, only South Alabama's Demetric Bennett attempted more free throws. Late in a game, North Texas coach Johnny Jones can feel comfortable with the ball in White's hands due to his ball handling and free throw shooting.

Also keep an eye on: Domonic Tilford-South Alabama

GoMiddle.com Countdown to Tipoff

40 days-October 6th: Schedule full of challenges, opportunities
39 days-October 7th: Sun Belt newcomers to watch
38 days-October 8th: Strong memory motivates Yates
37 days-October 9th: Kanaskie in position to leave a legacy
36 days-October 10th: Johnson driving force behind MT attack
35 days-October 11th: O'Neil hopes to pick up where he left off
34 days-October 12th: Boyd's long awaited debut getting closer
33 days-October 13th: Allen may be MT's missing piece
32 days-October 14th: Hudson aiming for quick recovery
31 days-October 15th: Williams can be a first year factor
30 days-October 16th: X-Factor Hair could push Raiders over top
29 days-October 17th: Green's contributions important for MT
28 days-October 18th: Lighter Haddock making big early impression
27 days-October 19th: Jones adjusting to new level
26 days-October 20th: Avery is a glue man for Blue Raiders
25 days-October 21st: Hopson brings plenty of value
24 days-October 22nd: Inside a scouting report with Artie Pepelea
23 days-October 23rd: Case has bright outlook in new post
22 days-October 24th: Top five wins of Kermit Davis era
21 days-October 25th: Top five near misses of Kermit Davis era
20 days-October 26th: Davis era: Top five individual performances
19 days-October 27th: Hoops facilities have come a long way at MT
18 days-October 28th: GoMiddle.com Preseason All Sun Belt-First Team
17 days-October 29th: GoMiddle.com Preseason All Sun Belt-Second Team
16 days-October 30th: GoMiddle.com Preseason All Sun Belt-Third Team
15 days-October 31st: MT strategy may be altered by 3-point line
14 days-November 1st: Sun Belt aims at multiple bids again
13 days-November 2nd: Preview: Sun Belt East remains strong
12 days-November 3rd: Preview: West expected to be wild
11 days-November 4th: Sun Belt profile raised by new coaching hires
10 days-November 5th: Preseason Sun Belt superlatives



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