VMI has officially announced the filling of its head coaching vacancy. Sunday afternoon the school announced that Dan Earl, who spent the last three seasons at Navy as associate head coach under Ed DeChellis, will take over for the departed Duggar Baucom. Earl was also a member of DeChellis’ coaching staff at Penn State, which is where Early played his college basketball.
“We started this process committed to several things,” VMI athletic director Dr. David Diles said in the release. “First, to identify a Head Coach that would represent VMI with dignity and understand, and embrace, the unique mission of the Institute. Second, to find someone with high intelligence, and previous experiences that have served as the appropriate foundation for assuming this leadership opportunity.
“And finally, to determine who best developed and communicated a plan for advancing VMI basketball. Coach Earl quickly emerged as our top candidate.”
Given the time Earl spent at Navy, that should help with the adjustment process at another school that incorporates military life into its daily operations. VMI lost four seniors from last year’s team, which finished with a record of 11-19, led by senior guard Brian Brown (10.9 ppg). However guards Tim Marshall (11.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and Julian Eleby (11.1, 4.5, 2.8 apg), the team’s top two scorers in 2014-15, have eligibility remaining with Marshall due to be a senior next season and Eleby a junior.
Reports: The Citadel hires VMI head coach Duggar Baucom for same position
The Citadel will hire VMI head coach Duggar Baucom to the same position, according to multiple reports. Baucom’s hire was first reported by Scott Eisberg of WCIV. The 54-year-old Baucom was the head coach of the Keydets since the 2005-06 season and had a 151-159 overall record at the school.
Baucom will take the reigns of another team in the Southern Conference, as he finished 11-19 at VMI during the 2014-15 season — the school’s first in the new league after moving from the Big South.
Baucom was a finalist for The Citadel head coaching job when Driesell eventually landed it before the 2010-11 season.
Taking over at The Citadel will be a major uphill battle for Baucom. The men’s basketball program has never made the NCAA Tournament and only has one postseason appearance in the program’s history — a 2009 trip to the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
2014-15 Southern Conference Preview: Wofford, Chattanooga favored in Davidson’s absence
No league underwent as much of a makeover during this offseason as the Southern Conference. Four of the league’s 11 teams departed to different leagues this offseason, with Elon, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State departing for football purposes. The biggest hit, however, was the loss of Davidson, the league’s marquee program, to the Atlantic 10. That hurt, but the good news is that the three programs joining the conference this season — Mercer, East Tennessee State and VMI — all have quality basketball programs. Losing Steph Curry’s alma mater is tough to overcome, but the league may actually be tougher in the future with the new additions.
Everyone should be aware of Mercer. The Bears beat out Florida-Gulf Coast for the Atlantic Sun’s automatic bid last season, and they made the most of their NCAA tournament trip by knocking off No. 3 seed Duke in the opening round. But the Bears lose seven seniors and five starters from last year’s team, meaning that their first year in the SoCon will be spent in regrouping mode. VMI loses two of their three leading scorers, who averaged a combined 39.0 points, but they bring back sophomore Q.J. Peterson and bring back a roster that should allow them to be a factor in the league title race. The third new addition is East Tennessee State, who returns back court stars Rashawn Rembert and Jalen Riley, who should start this season, but will have to find a way to replace their front court.
The favorite in the SoCon this season will be Wofford, who played their way into the NCAA tournament a season ago by winning the league’s automatic bid despite finishing third in the regular season. Mike Young’s club returns essentially their enter roster from a season ago, a year that saw Young start ten different players at least five times during the regular season. It took Wofford awhile to find their rhythm last year, part of the reason that Young used so many different lineups, but once he found up that worked, the Terriers finished the season strong. Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins will anchor the back court, while Lee Skinner will be their biggest interior presence.
It won’t be easy for the Terriers, however, as Will Wade’s Chattanooga program will enter their second season playing ‘Chaos’. Wade is a member of Shaka Smart’s coaching tree, meaning that his goal is to eventually get the Mocs playing the full-court, all-out pressing style that has allowed VCU to be so successful. Wade is starting to get his players into the program, and while last season saw Chattanooga forced into more zone and half-court defense than Wade would have liked, this season will bring much more pressure and … chaos. Casey Jones and Rico White are the two players that will anchor the back court, but the guy to keep an eye on is Justin Tuoyo, a 6-foot-10 transfer that followed Wade from Richmond.
One team to keep an eye on is Furman. The Palladins were just 3-13 in the league last season, but they have a young and promising back court, headlined by Stephen Croome. Keep an eye on William Gates, the son of the star of the movie ‘Hoop Dreams’, who had a promising freshman season despite battling knee issues much of the year.
PRESEASON SOCON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Karl Cochran, Wofford
Cochran averaged 15.7 points and 5.0 boards as a junior, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that he’s just a 6-foot-1 guard. The leading scorer and best player on the Terriers, Cochran only started 22 of Wofford’s 33 games a season ago.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-SOCON TEAM:
Q.J. Peterson, VMI, So.: VMI’s system allows players to put up huge numbers, but Peterson averaged 19.0 points as a freshman.
Stephen Croome, Furman, Jr.: The 6-foot-0 guard averaged 19.1 points and 3.7 assists while helping change the culture of the Palladin program.
Lee Skinner, Wofford, Sr.: An undersized power forward, Skinner is the heart and soul of this year’s Wofford team.
Casey Jones, Chattanooga, Jr.: The leading returning scorer for the Mocs, Jones is a 6-foot-5 forward that should fit well into the ‘Chaos’ system Will Wade runs.
ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @(link)
3. East Tennessee State
7. Western Carolina
8. UNC Greensboro
9. The Citadel
“I am excited to have the opportunity to lead VMI Basketball through 2019,” Baucom said in the release. “I am very proud of the competitive program we have established at VMI. The credit for the success we have built here is far reaching. Our achievements are due to my outstanding coaching staff, strength coach, training staff, academic support personnel, sports information department, administrative assistant and the great support of our loyal Keydet Nation.”
Last season Baucom’s Keydets made the program’s first postseason appearance in 37 years as they played in the CIT. Simply making the event wasn’t enough for VMI however, as they won three games before falling to Yale in the semifinals.
In nine seasons at VMI, Baucom has posted a record of 140-140 and his teams have reached the Big South tournament title game on three separate occasions. VMI will have to account for the graduation of two of their top three scorers in forward/center D.J. Covington and guard Rodney Glasgow, with both earning first team All-Big South honors, but guard QJ Peterson will be back for his sophomore campaign.
Peterson posted averages of 19.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in VMI’s high-paced system, and he was named to the league’s second team all-conference squad.
There may not be a more wide-open conference tournament this season than the Big South. High Point won the North Division with the best record in conference play at 12-4, but they also needed to win 10 of their last 11 games to do so and are playing without one of their star forwards in Allen Chaney. The next six teams in the standings all finished within two games of first place.
What’s that mean?
Winthrop, who was tied for second in the South Division, will essentially be the No. 7 seed while UNC Asheville, who was also tied for second in the division, will get a first round bye.
In other words, good luck with your predictions. If you are going to make one, think about this: the tournament will be played on the home floor of Coastal Carolina, as the HTC Center is the best venue in the league and just so happens to be located near Myrtle Beach.
High Point won the Big South’s North Division and finished with the best record in league play. They also just so happened to have the best player in the conference on their roster in John Brown, a 6-foot-7, freak-of-nature athlete that averaged 19.6 points, 7.9 boards and 1.7 blocks. Losing Allen Chaney hurts, but the Panthers regrouped without him, winning 10 of their final 11 games after starting out Big South play 0-2 and 2-3.
And if they lose?: VMI
If you like scoring, you’ll like watching VMI, who averages the second-most possessions of any team in the country, according to KenPom. Q.J. Peterson is one of the best low-major freshmen in the country — he’s averaging 19.6 points, 5.5 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals as a 6-foot-0 guard — and D.J. Covington has the size inside to matchup with any big man in the league.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers have far and away the best defense in Big South, according to KenPom, and used that to win the South Division. More importantly, the tournament will be held on their home floor.
UNC-Asheville: The Bulldogs run almost as much as VMI and also feature the league’s most dominant interior presence, particularly defensively, in D.J. Cunningham.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
High Point and Charleston Southern finished atop the North and South Division standings last season, both teams fell at the hands of Liberty — a team that lost 20 games and didn’t beat a Division I opponent until Dec. 31 — in the Big South tournament. Liberty went on to steal the automatic bid, and narrowly missed advancing to the field of 64 after dropping a one-point game to North Carolina A&T in the First Four.
The Panthers and Buccaneers return strong teams again this season, and while both should be atop the regular season standings, the Big South will be one of the conferences to experience chaos come March. High Point returns sixth-year forward Allan Chaney, but more importantly redshirt sophomore forward John Brown has recovered from the broken right foot he suffered at the beginning of March. Charleston Southern has one of the best back courts in the conference returning with Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. The duo both averaged more than 15 points a game for the Buccaneers, but they will have to replace starters Mathiang Muo and Jeremy Sexton.
While High Point and Charleston Southern are once again the projected favorites in their respective divisions, several teams looked poised to be this year’s Cinderella come spring. Radford has one of the best perimeter attacks with the trio of Ya Ya Anderson, R.J. Price and leading scorer and rebounder Javonte Green. They’re a young team but they may have enough returners to make that jump. Charleston Southern will battle a pair of contenders in its own division as well, as Winthrop and Gardner Webb both return multiple starters.
PRESEASON BIG SOUTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: John Brown, High Point
The redshirt forward was named freshman of the year after averaging 16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. His season was cut short, and High Point’s NCAA tournament hopes were dashed when he broke his foot a week before the conference tournament. He’s one of the nations most exciting players to watch:
Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: Charleston Southern has some of the best returning guard play in the Big South with Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper. The 5-foot-8 Nimley was the team’s top scorer and fourth in the Big South in assists last season.
Davon Marshall, Liberty: The Flames senior guard scorched nets down the stretch with his 3-point shooting. The senior guard shot 43 percent on the season and shot 18-of-32 during a four game stretch beginning in the Big South quarterfinals and ending in the First Four for his 20-loss Liberty team.
D.J. Covington, VMI: The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 15.0 points, 7.2 boards and 3.0 blocks per game last season. He’ll have a bigger role with the loss of Stan Okoye, who averaged almost a double-double last season.
Javonte Green, Radford: The junior wing led the Highlanders in scoring and rebounding last season with 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Radford has one of the conferences best perimeter attacks with Green, Ya Ya Anderson and R.J. Price.