2007-08 UNCW Basketball Preview
UNC Wilmington Seahawks
Overall Rank: #94
Conference Rank: #4 Colonial
2006-07: 7-22, 4-14, 10th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
It is not everyday that a seven win team in the Colonial Athletic Association cracks any list, no matter how insanely large that list may be. Yet, UNC Wilmington has high expectations after winning just four conference games a year ago and Coach Benny Moss’ squad should be mentioned with the top level teams in the conference this season.
The absence of Temi Soyebo, who averaged a team high 5.9 assists and 1.9 steals and added 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds, makes it sound like the Seahawks should be worse than last year. While Soyebo is a big loss, the team will still be better this year. Forwards Dejan Grkovic and Jeff Horowitz were important parts of the teams ten man rotation, mostly off the bench, and have wrapped up their collegiate careers.
We cannot go too long without talking about T.J. Carter. When it became apparent that the 6-3 guard would miss the 2006-2007 season with an injury, the Seahawks were in trouble. Carter led the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game in 2005-2006 and now healthy, Carter will be the go-to scorer on the perimeter that the team so desperately lacked in his absence. While having Carter back will certainly help, the backcourt still needs to find a replacement for Soyebo at the point. Marlo Davis is the likely candidate to earn the starting job. The Second-team JUCO All-American honoree is a true point guard and is known for creating havoc for the opposition on both sides of the court. Chad Tomko, an incoming freshman, will not give the starting job to Davis. Tomko adds a bigger scoring dynamic to the point than Davis and the 5-11 Charlotte, North Carolina product will be asked to see plenty of action even if he does not start. Small forward Dominique Lacy is a monster on the glass. He has single handedly turned the Seahawks into an athletic team and having the 6-7 forward streaking across the floor will add a much needed dynamic to the team. However, how effective he can really be as a freshman remains to be seen. Rob Sikes and Jason Aycock will add some depth up front. Sikes, the reigning Mississippi Press Area Player-of-the-Year, averaged 23.0 points and 11.0 rebounds during his senior campaign. The 6-9, 245 pound forward will be pressed into duty with limited depth in the paint. If injuries or foul trouble become big problems, walk-on Aycock could be thrown into the fire.
Who to Watch:
Depth may be an issue for the frontcourt, but the starters do not lack any talent. Vladimir Kulijanin, a 6-10, 265 pound senior, led the team with 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds during the 2006-2007 campaign. His partner in crime, power forward Todd Hendley, added 11.1 points and 4.1 boards. Unlike Kulijanin, Hendley can stretch the defense and hit the three-ball, but considering the opposition generally was unthreatened by the perimeter, the frontcourt duo put up good numbers. With Carter back on the floor, the defense will not be able to concentrate on the frontcourt without getting burned by Carter.
Daniel Fountain and Montez Downey were the main shooters on the team. While one will lose a starting job with Carter coming back, both will continue to be decent shooters. With Darryl Felder, Josh Sheets and Derion Jeralds returning, the perimeter group does not lack any depth. Jeralds may take over the point guard job if the newcomers run into any problems. Every player on the UNC Wilmington roster last year started at least three games. The inconsistency and injuries hampered the team all year long. That will not be a problem this year and even the coaching staff has a year under their belt to return the Seahawks back to a favorite in the CAA.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Marlo Davis, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Daniel Fountain, Senior, Guard, 10.0 points per game
T.J. Carter, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Todd Hendley, Senior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Vladimir Kuljanin, Senior, Center, 13.6 points per game