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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

August 25th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Northern Iowa Panthers

 

Overall Rank: #76

Conference Rank: #5 MVC

 

2005-06: 23-10, 11-7, 5th (t)

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Northern Iowa has some big losses, but with a quality core of returning players, new coach Ben Jacobson can continue the success that Panther fans have become accustomed to seeing on the court.  Coach Jacobson, not to be confused with Ben Jacobson the player, was the associate head coach under Greg McDermott last season and should provide a smooth transition between UNI’s leading men. 

 

Who’s Out: The backcourt won’t look anything like it did a year ago with the departures of Ben Jacobson, Erik Crawford and John Little.  For a team that practically played six players all year long, the absence of three of those guys is painful.  Jacobson, despite a season plagued by streaky shooting, led the squad with 14.2 points per game.  Crawford and Little split starting time during the 2005-2006 campaign and averaged 9.6 and 7.3 points, respectively.  Michael Williams, who saw limited minutes in 19 contests and Mason Stewart, who redshirted last season, have opted to transfer.  Up front, backup center Atila Santos won’t be returning to Cedar Falls.  Santos averaged 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds off the bench and was a decent option to fill some minutes under the basket.

 

Who’s In: The backcourt has some newcomers that are ready to contribute, but nobody who is ready to step in right away and replace the departing players.  Point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe is a good distributor and has a decent shot.  It will take the freshman a little while to adjust to the level of play in the MVC, but the sooner he can contribute the better for UNI.  Kerwin Dunham has loads of potential.  The 6-4 shooting guard can make some shots most have no business taking.  With a little more strength, he’ll be a good player.  Stephen Jones is a quality combo guard and an excellent shooter and, along with redshirt freshman Brian Haak, will provide more options on the perimeter.  Center Jordan Eglseder highlights the group of newcomers up front.  The 7-1 center has tons of potential and some talent, but it isn’t likely that the Bellevue, Iowa product will make a huge impact as a freshman.  Adam Koch can battle inside and step outside and hit the mid-range jumper.  The 6-8 power forward has the size and athleticism to cause major problems for the opposition.  Everette Pedescleaux will provide some emergency depth in the paint.  The 6-6, 275 pounder will join the team after playing for the Panthers football team.

 

Who to Watch: The team strength will shift from the perimeter to the paint with Grant Stout and Eric Coleman returning.  Stout averaged 11.8 points and a team high 8.9 rebounds as a junior and is solid shot blocker.  The 6-8 forward will be looked to as a team leader on and off the floor for his senior campaign.  Stout is recovering from a broken wrist, but is expected to be fully fit in time for practice.  Coleman is undersized at 6-6, but has a huge wingspan.  The junior averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds last year and, along with Stout, creates the best frontcourt duo in the MVC. 

 

Final Projection: Brooks McKowen is a solid, senior point guard, but who will do the scoring on the wings?  Travis Brown, Jared Josten and Adam Viet are the only returning options.  Brown, a 6-3 sophomore, averaged the most minutes of any of the choices last year with 8.9 per game.  He can hit the long ball and has plenty of potential and room to improve.  Another option is moving McKowen back to the two spot.  He struggled with his shot at times last year, but has proven in the past that he can be a big time scorer when he doesn’t have to worry about running the point.  However, it should take a little while before anybody else will be ready to take over the point guard duties.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Brooks McKowen, Senior, Guard, 5.6 points per game

Jared Josten, Junior, Guard, 1.6 points per game

Travis Brown, Sophomore, Guard, 3.5 points per game

Grant Stout, Senior, Forward, 11.8 points per game

Eric Coleman, Junior, Center, 11.5 points per game

77 Winthrop » Complete List » 75 Western Kentucky

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