UNCW Seahawks

CAA semifinal win moves Northeastern one step closer to first NCAA appearance since 1991 (VIDEO)

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Monday’s CAA tournament title game will match two teams desperately looking to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. While William & Mary’s drought has been much-publicized, as they’ve never played in the NCAA tournament, Northeastern’s looking to end a drought of more than two decades. Sunday evening Bill Coen’s Huskies beat UNCW 78-71 to advance to the title game, and a win over the Tribe would result in their first NCAA tournament trip since 1991.

Forward Scott Eatherton, a first team all-CAA selection, led the way with 21 points while also grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots. Just as important for Northeastern was the 33 points they received from reserves, as Devon Begley, Caleb Donnelly and Reggie Spencer scored 11 points apiece. Starting guard David Walker also scored 11 points for Northeastern, and he also contributed eight rebounds and five assists.

UNCW’s Jordan Talley led three Seahawks in double figures with 18 points, with fellow guards Craig Ponder (17 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Addison Spruill (12 points, four rebounds) being the other double-digit scorers. Monday’s title game begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on NBCSN.

Report: Former Jacksonville guard Jarvis Haywood transfers to UNC Wilmington

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With UNCW having won just nine games in 2013-14, it’s safe to say that new head coach Kevin Keatts will have his work cut out for him as he looks to make the Seahawks a contender in the Colonial Athletic Association. Forward Cedrick Williams, who averaged a team-best 11.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season, will be a senior next season but he’s also the lone player to averaged double figures in 2013-14.

Those two factors, the lack of production outside of Williams and the fact that he has just one season remaining, make the addition of former Jacksonville guard Jarvis Haywood a very important one for Keatts. News of Haywood’s decision to join the UNCW program was reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

As a sophomore the 6-foot-4 Haywood averaged 16.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, earning second team All-Atlantic Sun honors as a result. Haywood shot 50.9% from the field, 41.3% from three and 74.1% from the foul line, and of the 26 games in which he played the guard reached double figures in 23. Haywood scored a season-high 29 points in a loss at North Florida on January 17, shooting 11-for-16 from the field.

UNCW struggled offensively last season, ranking eighth in the CAA in scoring offense and ninth (last) in field goal percentage. Haywood won’t be able to play in 2014-15 due to NCAA transfer rules, but he’ll help the Seahawks offensively when he becomes eligible the following season.

Keatts has also landed commitments from 2014 point guards Malik Pugh and Jordon Talley, with the latter making his decision to join the program Thursday.

Former Tide teammates reunite in UNCW backcourt

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The UNCW Seahawks are looking to rebound in the CAA standings after suffering through an NCAA-mandated postseason ban last season. Buzz Peterson can use some playmakers after uber-loyal star forward Keith Rendleman finally used up his eligibility.

Rendleman led the Seahawks in just about every category possible last season, save assists per game. That honor went to Chris Dixon (pictured), who made sure to get the ball to Rendleman as much as possible, and backed the big man up with 9.8 points per game. Dixon spend his first collegiate season at Alabama in 2009 before redshirting and heading off to junior college, then ending up in Wilmington.

Ben Eblen, Dixon’s former teammate in Tuscaloosa, actually played three seasons as a backup at ‘Bama, graduated, and decided to play out his final season of eligibility at UNCW, where the two will be reunited in the upcoming season.

Brian Mull of the Wilmington Star-News found out what Eblen will bring to the table.

After graduating from Alabama last December, Eblen spent the spring at home in Isle of Palms, S.C. He liked what Dixon told him about the program and the area, and felt he could help the Seahawks turn around.

“I really like to get after it on the defensive end, keep pressure on the other team’s guards,” Eblen said. “And put offensive pressure on the other team.”

Peterson plans to play the two together, with either capable of pushing the tempo to create scoring opportunities.

This isn’t Eblen’s first look at the CAA, either. He initially committed to Anthony Grant when he, and VCU, were in the Colonial. When Grant left for Alabama, Eblen went with him.

It’s tough to tell who will come out on top in a CAA decimated by realignment, but the Seahawks have to like their chances of an improved showing with an experience backcourt duo in place.

Like loyalty? Wilmington’s Rendleman has loads

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The college hoops offseason can be a little depressing sometimes. We’ve had our fair share this year, with coaches being fired, allegations of player mistreatment, and loads of transfers. Kids will leave school due to lack of playing time, disagreements with coaches, and who knows what else.

So I would be remiss in my role as college basketball’s Polly Sunshine (see Joe Harms) if I didn’t direct you to Brian Mull’s piece about UNC-Wilmington forward Keith Rendleman. Rendleman is set to play out his senior season as a Seahawk this year, despite the fact that just about every break that could go against him, has.

For starters, the CAA is slowly disintegrating, with three schools leaving the league. Strike two comes in the guise of APR sanctions, which will disqualify UNCW from the postseason. The third blow? Three of Rendleman’s compadres have bolted school already, leaving him in a pretty lonely position. What’s more, the Seahawks didn’t really win that much before all of that happened.

Rendleman was a first-team all-CAA selection last season in spite of all that. He could have written his ticket to just about any other school in the nation with his combination of size, skill and maturity. But he didn’t. Mull spoke with the senior-to-be, and learned what made him stay put.

“I just made this my home. I love all the fans here, everyone treats me well,” he said. “The coaching staff, they look out for me just as much as anybody. They care about me. Also, my teammates, I have a great relationship with them, this coming up team is closer than it’s ever been in any of the years I’ve been here.

“I felt like I have a pretty good thing going here, rather than going somewhere else, and having to get treated differently.”

In addition, Rendleman pointed out that he likes and trusts his head coach, Buzz Peterson. Imagine that. Peterson pretty much expected Rendleman to leave, or at least redshirt this season. But when his star player came back, Peterson made the stakes clear.

After practice one day late last season, Peterson pointed to the three retired uniforms near the rafters of the southeast corner of Trask Coliseum. He asked the other Seahawks if they felt Rendleman’s uniform belonged there. They said yes.

Keith Rendleman could go down in UNCW history as one of the best, if not THE best player in school history. He will most definitely be remembered as a player who loved his coach, his team and his school, and stayed true to them all.