2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: South Alabama
South Alabama Jaguars
Sun Belt Conference (26-6, 16-2)
Big Wins: 12/15 Mississippi State (71-67), 1/5 Western Kentucky (65-61), 2/21 at Western Kentucky (69-64)
Bad Losses: 11/22 vs Miami Ohio (59-64), 1/31 at North Texas (68-70), 2/14 at Middle Tennessee State (70-76)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, First Round loss to Florida
Coach: Ronnie Arrow (1-2 in 2 NCAA appearances)
Daon Merritt, Senior, Guard, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 apg
Domonic Tilford, Junior, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 2.1 apg
Demetric Bennett, Senior, Guard, 20.1 ppg, 2.6 apg, 5.9 rpg
Brandon Davis, Junior, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg
DeAndre Coleman, Junior, Forward, 7.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg
B.J. Ford, Junior, Forward, 2.1 ppg
Daniel Hayles, Junior, Forward, 3.4ppg, 2.2 rpg
Ronald Douglas, Junior, Center, 6.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Why They Can Surprise:
In college basketball, three-point shooting is the great equalizer when you are outmatched physically and South Alabama has a few dangerous long range shooters. And none are more dangerous than senior Demetric Bennett. Bennett hits over 41 percent of his shots from downtown and will hit nearly three a game. It is a bad game for Bennett when he fails to reach the 20 point mark and he can explode on any night, just like when he scored 39 points against Mississippi State in December.
Domonic Tilford is nearly as prolific as Bennett from beyond the arc. The former Cincinnati Bearcat will not look to shoot as much as Bennett, but he still averages 12.7 points per game. Daon Merritt adds another scoring threat from the perimeter. The 5-8 point guard will use his speed to be a surprisingly effective scorer getting to the basket.
Why They Can Disappoint:
South Alabama will not be the biggest team playing in the postseason. Tilford and Merritt are both under 6-0 and their shot blocker, Brandon Davis, is only 6-6. Davis is an effective scorer around the basket, and a superb rebounder, but scoring and rebounding will become much more difficult when he is matched up against an athletic big man. DeAndre Coleman, at 6-7, mans the five spot. Another former Bearcat, Coleman is a monster on the glass and a decent scorer who can step out and hit the mid-range jumper. At 233 pounds, Coleman has enough girth to battle with taller centers, but South Alabama’s impressive rebounding skills might be neutralized against teams outside of the Sun Belt.
Who To Watch:
Coach Ronnie Arrow does not have an extremely deep bench to work with, but the group does not lack in experience. B.J. Ford played at Eastern Michigan before heading to Mobile. The 6-0 junior is listed as a forward and has started over half the games this season. He will not fill up the stat sheet, but he plays solid defense and has plenty of versatility. Daniel Hayles has had a couple decent games this year, but again, he will not have a lot of big games. Center Ronald Douglas might be the most important player coming off the bench. He must keep up the scoring and rebounding production when Davis or Coleman run into foul trouble or need a rest.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.5 (59th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.9 (85, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (29, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.7 (78, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (161, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.5 (110, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.2 (105, 7)
Rebound Margin: 6.4 (14, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (43, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (130, 4)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Butler
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