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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

June 30th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

 

Belmont Bruins

Overall Rank: #131

Conference Rank: #1 Atlantic Sun

 

2005-06: 20-11, 15-5, 1st (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

After years of being so close, Belmont finally made the NCAA Tournament last year, where they lost to their Bruin counterparts, and national runners-up, UCLA in the first round.  Despite losing two starters, the team from Nashville has a quality coach in Rick Byrd and a winning mentality.  It doesn’t hurt that there is plenty of talent returning and some newcomers ready to come aboard and make an immediate impact. 

 

Who’s Out: If the production and leadership of Brian Collins cannot be quickly replaced, there will be some early headaches at Belmont.  Collins averaged 10.8 points, 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds during the team’s magical run in 2005-2006.  Dan Oliver started nearly every game, but only averaged 18.4 minutes per contest.  Oliver wouldn’t score much either averaging only 3.6 points per game, but he proved to be invaluable doing the dirty work.  Big man Michael Modlin and small forward Adrian Jones didn’t rack up major minutes, but had the ability to steal some minutes off the bench every game.

 

Who’s In: Forward Will Peeples will return to the court after sitting out last season with a knee injury.  The 6-6 Little Rock, Arkansas native averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 boards en route to earning conference All-Freshmen honors in 2004-2005.  Peeples has the versatility to help replace Oliver in the paint.  Shane Dansby, a transfer from Murray State, can help out on the glass.  The 6-4 wing did not see too much action two years ago for the Racers, but he is extremely athletic and can play more of a role for the Bruins.  The wings will find some more depth with redshirt freshman Keaton Belcher and true freshman Jordan Campbell.  Belcher has good size at 6-8, and he can step out and hit from behind the arc.  Campbell, a 6-4 Indianapolis product, will find it hard to find too many minutes, but has the ability to make an impact if given the opportunity.  Cole Rose played two years at Freed-Hardeman University before transferring and redshirting last season.  Rose, a 6-3 combo guard, won’t light up the scoreboard, but he can drive and dish and his defense will give him some quality playing time.  Center Mike Dejworek rounds out the group of newcomers.  The 6-11 German averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds last year at Mount Pisgah Christian School in Georgia.  Dejworek is a smart player with international experience and is ready to take his game to Nashville.

 

Who to Watch: It isn’t all about the new guys.  The bulk of the playing time will be divvied up by the talented group returning.  The backcourt is where one of the more interesting battles for a starting spot may take place.  Justin Hare and Josh Goodwin are the team leaders and returning starters and have their spots locked up, but the question comes with sophomore guard Andy Wicke.  Wicke is deserving of a starting role, but he averaged 8.5 points off the bench last year and Coach Byrd might want to keep him in that role.  If Dansby impresses during the off-season, don’t be surprised if Wicke wins the sixth man award in the A-Sun.

 

Final Projection: Lipscomb returns a talented squad and Kennesaw State is a sleeper team poised to make some noise, but Belmont is the clear preseason favorite to return to the big dance.  What separates the Bruins is the presence of big man Boomer Herndon.  The 6-11, 260 pound Nashville native averaged 14.6 points and 7.4 rebounds his first season for Belmont after transferring from Tennessee.  As a senior, he’ll dominate the interior even more. 

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Justin Hare, Junior, Guard, 15.6 points per game

Josh Goodwin, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game

Andy Wicke, Sophomore, Guard, 8.5 points per game

Will Peeples, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season

Boomer Herndon, Senior, Center, 14.6 points per game

#132 UWGB » Complete List » #130 Tomorrow

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