2008-09 Winthrop Basketball Preview: #139
Overall Rank: #137
Conference Rank: #2 Big South
2007-08: 22-12, 10-4, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
This might not be the same Winthrop team that has dominated the Big South over the last few years, but it might be again in another year or two. With the loss of four of the top five scorers from a year ago, there will be some growing pains, but Coach Randy Peele's team could compete for a conference championship this season...they just will not dominate quite yet.
Michael Jenkins...Taj McCullough...Chris Gaynor...Antwon Harris...that sounds like an All-Conference Team. Instead, and unfortunately for Winthrop fans, it is the list of Eagles who have graduated. Jenkins and Gaynor were the heart and soul of the team. Jenkins averaged 13.9 points per game and knocked down over two long balls per contest. Gaynor ran the show and dished out 4.1 assists and just 1.6 turnovers. Finding somebody else who can do that will not happen overnight.
Some newcomers will be asked to play a pivotal role this year. And none may be more important than junior college transfer Raymond Davis. The 6-4 wing is pretty much a shooter, but he has plenty of speed to get open looks. Once he starts using his size and speed to get to the basket, Davis will be tough to deal with. Incoming freshman Andre Jones might not have to wait very long before he becomes the best shooter on the team. With point guard Reggie Middleton, the Eagles backcourt will be talented yet again, just far less experienced. Forwards Gideon Gamble, Chris Malcolm and Case Stiglbauer will provide plenty of depth. Gamble was a great pick-up for the Eagles and he is expected to become a major contributor sooner or later. Senior Cameron Stanley, a transfer from Wake Forest, is eligible to play immediately. He never saw much action with the Demon Deacons, but Stanley should play an important role on the young Eagles team.
Who to Watch:
There are some players returning, most notably returning starters Charles Corbin and Mantoris Robinson. Corbin had a fine freshman campaign, averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. He will be asked to do more and be a leader of the team. Robinson is a solid rebounder from the wing, but he needs to show that he can be a better scorer now that he will be given the opportunity. And so will plenty of other players like Antwon Harris and the highly touted Byron Faison, who only averaged 10.3 minutes per game as a freshman.
While the backcourt adjusts to life without Jenkins, Gaynor and Harris, the frontcourt might have to pull a little more weight than they are used to pulling. A lot of that will fall on Corbin, but Andy Buechert, a 6-9 center, will have to do his share too. The former junior college transfer did not earn too much playing time his first year at Winthrop, but he has the skills to be a decent center and will at least grab plenty of rebounds. It will take some time, but by the time the conference season rolls around, the Eagles will be a dangerous team in the Big South.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Justin Burton, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 points per game
Byron Faison, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 points per game
Mantoris Robinson, Junior, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Charles Corbin, Sophomore, Forward, 6.6 points per game
Andy Buechert, Senior, Center, 3.0 points per game