Thomasville, NC-The Barton College men's basketball team is coming off a precedent-setting 28-4 season that ended with an Elite Eight overtime loss to eventual NCAA D-II champ Winona State (MN). The Bulldogs, ranked as high as 3rd nationally in 2005-2006, return four starters and eight lettermen and have added a talented cast of impact recruits. Thus, Barton, which was ranked No. 2 nationally in the 2006-2007 Street & Smith's preseason poll, hopes to be a force on the D-II basketball scene again this year.
The Bulldogs won the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference regular season (18-2) and tournament titles, as well as the East Regional crown, this past season. The Bulldogs' attack will be led by the dynamic senior duo of 5-10 point guard Anthony Atikinson and 6-7 swingman Alejo Barovero. Atkinson was CVAC Player of the Year, All-State first team, All-Region first team and honorable mention All-America. Barovero was All-CVAC first team, All-Region and MVP of the East Regional.
Sophomore guard Bobby Buffaloe (CVAC Freshman of the Year) and 6-6 sophomore center Brian Leggett round out the returning starters. Senior 6-5 forward Mark Friscone, an inside-outside threat, also saw starting time last season.
Head coach Ron Lievense, in his 11th year at the BC helm, has taken three of his 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament and has won 84 percent of his career games in the "Dog House."
Mount Olive College sits atop the 2005-2006 preseason poll as voted on by the conference coaches. Mount Olive begins the season ranked No. 5 in Street and Smith’s NCAA Division II Preseason Men’s Basketball Top 10 and No. 7 in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25. The Trojans return four starters and, according to Street and Smith’s preview, “perhaps the best sixth man in the nation” in Elton Coffield who was selected as a preseason All-American Honorable Mention member. The team is coming off of their best season in school history which made its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and its first-ever trip to the Elite Eight. Mount Olive shattered a school single-season wins record with a 29-5 (18-2 CVAC) mark last season. Head Coach Bill Clingan adds, “Last year was a special season and I hope we can continue to build on that success, but we know we have to be ready to play every time we take the court. As always, every game in the conference is going to be a dogfight. I believe our league is as good as there is in Division II.”
Mount Olive is ranked in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25 for the second consecutive year, coming in at No. 19 in this year’s poll. The Trojans were ranked as high as No. 5 last year and have now been nationally ranked for the fourth straight year.
Mount returns three starters, including two All-CVAC selections, from last year’s squad, which surpassed the 20-win mark and advanced to the NCAA II Tournament for the third year in a row. Senior guard Elton Coffield, a two-time All-CVAC first team selection and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 NCAA II East Regional, enters this season with 1,353 career points. Coffield scored a career-high 35 points in last year’s CVAC Tournament semifinals.
Senior forward Elijah Rouse was named to the All-CVAC second team last year and was among the conference leaders in rebounding. Rouse scored a career-high 24 points in the championship game of last year’s CVAC Tournament. Senior forward Chris Bartley, who started 31 of 32 games last year, gives the Trojans a presence in the paint and beyond the arc.
The Trojans return four other letterwinners who saw significant playing time last season. Top newcomers include Division I transfer Brandon Streeter and freshman Kendrick Easley, son of former NFL All-Pro safety Kenny Easley.
Pfeiffer University moves down one spot from last years poll to place second in this year’s survey. The team returns eleven players that helped them win 27 games last year (27-5, 18-2 CVAC) that included the CVAC Tournament Championship, a piece of the Regular Season Championship, and the opportunity to host an NCAA Regional Championship where they advanced to the second round. The Falcons have some big shoes to fill with the graduation of two All-Americans from last years team, but believe that with their returning players they have substantial experience that other Falcon teams would be hard-pressed to match. The 2005-06 Falcons will again depend on help from a lot of different faces as they will likely continue the five at a time substitution pattern that has proved to be so successful the last two years.
THE PFEIFFER MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM RETURNS SEVEN PLAYERS FROM A TEAM THAT LED THE COUNTRY IN FORCED TURNOVERS (27.9) AND OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING
(15.4), WAS RANKED NATIONALLY AS HIGH AS #6 AND WON 18 GAMES. PFEIFFER LED
PURDUE BY 15 IN THE 2ND HALF OF A PRESEASON EXHBITION AND RETURNS THREE
OUTSTANDING SENIORS, THAT HAVE WON 76 GAMES AND 11 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THREE YEARS. THIS GROUP DID NOT LOSE CONSECUTIVE GAMES UNTIL DECEMBER OF THEIR JUNIOR YEAR.
PFEIFFER HAS ALL READY BEEN NOTED AS A “TEAM TO WATCH” NATIONALLY IN THE STREET AND SMITHS PRESEASON COLLEGE BASKETBALL ISSUE. ALSO, SENIOR GUARD DEMARIO GRIER WAS NAMED 2ND TEAM ALL-AMERICAN BY THE SAME PUBLICATION.
ALL-AMERICAN DEMARIO GRIER (CHARLOTTE, NC), A 6'2" GUARD, AVERAGED 19.7
PPG IN 19 MINUTES OF PLAYING TIME IN PFEIFFER'S UP TEMPO SYSTEM IN WHICH
10-12 FALCONS PLAY REGULARLY. GRIER HAD ONE OF THE MOST PRODUCTIVE
OFFENSIVE SEASONS IN SCHOOL HISTORY AND WAS NAMED ALL REGION, ALL STATE,
AND ALL-CVAC IN ADDITION TO ALL AMERICAN HONORS (2ND TEAM). DEMARIO HAS BEEN A BIG PART OF THE PFEIFFER SUCCESS STORY SINCE HIS SURPRISE IMPACT ON THE 31-3 TEAM HIS FRESHMAN YEAR THAT WENT TO THE ELITE EIGHT.TAVARES COOPER (ROCKVILLE, MD), A 6'3" GUARD, WAS AN OUTSTANDING INSIDE/OUT PLAYER WHO WAS ONE OF THE CVAC'S BEST PLAYERS. COOPER AVERAGED 16 POINTS PER GAME DESPITE A MIDSEASON INJURY THAT SLOWED HIM CONSIDERABLY. HE HAD 27 POINTS AND 10 REBOUNDS VS. MT. OLIVE AND LED THE FALCONS IN REBOUNDING. COOPER WAS ALL TOURNAMENT IN BOTH THE CVAC AND THE BOBBY LUTZ INVITATIONAL.
THE JUNIOR CLASS RETURNS GUARDS CRAIG THOMAS (MADISON, NC) AND DEREK MOORE (MEBANE, NC), TWO HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE PLAYERS. THOMAS PLAYED MOST OF THE YEAR INJURED LAST YEAR AND STILL MANAGED TO HELP AND MOORE, AFTER TRANSFERRING FROM SC STATE WAS AN IMPACT PLAYER FROM DAY ONE AT PFEIFFER.
THE SOPHOMORES ARE LED BY 6'6" LOGAN CALL (RONDA, NC) WHO SHOT 64% FROM THE FIELD AND HAD HIS BEST GAMES AGAINST SOME OF THE CVAC'S BEST AND
ROBERT MCGRIFF (LANCASTER, SC) WHO HAD AN OUTSTANDING FRESHMAN YEAR
PLAYING EVERY POSITION.
AN OUTSTANDING RECRUITING CLASS JOINS THESE SEVEN RETURNERS WITH THE
ADDITION OF TWO TRANSFERS AND A HOST OF FRESHMAN. THOMAS CARR (TOLEDO, OH) A TRANSFER FROM SHEPHERD UNIVERSITY AND CORTLAND THOMAS (DURHAM NC), WHO PLAYED AT READING AREA CC, WILL BOTH BE JUNIORS. CARR, WHO PLAYED HIS HIGH SCHOOL BALL AT HARGRAVE MILITARY, HAD SEVERAL OUTSTANDING GAMES TROUGH TWO INJURY PLAGUED YEARS AT SHEPHERD AND THOMAS AVERAGED 27PPG AND LED READING AREA CC, TO A 27-2 RECORD.
THE FRESHMEN CLASS IS HEADED BY MARCUS HODGES (RALEIGH, NC), WHO LED
WAKEFIELD TO THE 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP. HODGES IS A DO EVERYTHING GUARD,
WITH A GREAT CHANCE TO START AT THE POINT. DERRICK TRUESDALE (WAXHAW, NC) ANOTHER QUICK, INTELLIGENT GUARD, PLAYED AT CHARLOTTE LATIN FOR COACH
JERRY FAULKNER, ONE OF THE BEST COACHES IN THE BUSINESS. ALVIN SLATON
(FAYETTEVILLE, NC) WAS THE CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR, AND LED HIS TEAM
TO TWO SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, WHILE PLAYING AT JACK BRITT HS. TERRENCE
GRIGG (CHARLOTTE, NC) HAS TREMEDOUS POTENTIAL AND HAS PLAYED ONLY TWO
YEARS OF ORGANIZED BASKETBALL AT HOPEWELL HS. JOSH ROPER (CHARLOTTE-GARINGER HS) AND RONNIE CUTHBERTSON (SALISBURY-WEST ROWAN HS) ROUND OUT THE FRESHMAN CLASS AND HAVE BOTH HAD EXCELLENT PRESEASON WORKOUTS.
Erskine College and Queens University of Charlotte finish in a dead tie for the third spot. Erskine who was 14-15 (10-10 CVAC) will strive to improve on three consecutive 14 win seasons under 7th year head coach Mark Peeler. Experience should be a strong point for the Fleet who return seven of their top eight players from last year. Within that group of players there is CVAC 1st Team Member Craig Williams and CVAC 2nd Team Member Reed Long.
Queens University of Charlotte looks to build on their13-15 (10-10 CVAC) campaign. The Royals return three starters from last year’s squad which finished 4th in the conference and support more depth, size and athleticism to continue to compete in the CVAC this year. Senior leadership will be vital to bring along nine new additions as the team begins to gel forward for desired postseason play.
Rounding out the men's poll 4-11 was: Limestone, Queens, St. Andrews, Erskine, Belmont Abbey, Coker, Lees-McRae, and Anderson respectively.
CVAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll (# of First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Barton College (10) 100
2. Mount Olive College (1) 85
3. Pfeiffer University 83
4. Limestone College 65
5. Queens University of Charlotte 59
6. St. Andrews Presbyterian College 53
7. Erskine College 50
8. Belmont Abbey College 47
9. Coker College &nbs