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Ready For Prime Time? (DDSCB21)

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The year is 2030. Following a major scandal within the collegiate basketball world, the NCAA completely reorganized Division I.

All conferences were disbanded and a Promotion/Relegation set up was established. 22 conferences of 16 teams were created (a total of 352 teams), each organized based on historic strength of their basketball programs. But Division I basketball has 357 teams, so the 5 teams with the lowest prestige factor are not included in any conference. Instead these 5 are independent teams.

Under the NCAA’s realignment teams are not frozen within those conferences. They can move up (be promoted) to higher level conferences or drop down (be relegated) to lower level conferences. After each season the top 4 teams in a conference will move up to the next higher level conference and the 4 bottom teams in a conference will drop down to the next lower level conference. If a team that finishes lower than 4th in their conference happens to win their conference tournament, that team will be promoted in place of the 4th place team in that conference.

After the end of each season the Independent team with the best record will move up into Conference V for the next season and the lowest team in the standings in Conference V will drop down to become and Independent the following season.

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Here’s the alignment of teams for each conference:

Conf A: Arizona, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas, Villanova, Wisconsin, Xavier
Conf B: Alabama, Baylor, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Creighton, Florida State, Marquette, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Conf C: Brigham Young, Butler, Clemson, Georgetown, Indiana, Iowa, Memphis, Miami (FL), North Carolina State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Stanford, UCLA, Wichita State
Conf D: Arkansas, Dayton, Georgia State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Providence, Saint Marys, Southern California, Texas Tech, Utah State, Virginia Commonwealth, Vanderbilt
Conf E: Arizona State, Colorado, Davidson, Georgia, Houston, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Nevada, Penn State, South Carolina, Temple, Texas A&M, Utah, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington
Conf F: Alabama-Birmingham, Auburn, Belmont, Boise State, Boston College, Kent State, Nevada-Las Vegas, Northwestern, Rhode Island, Richmond, Rutgers, Saint Louis, Southern Methodist, St. Johns, Tulsa, Vermont
Conf G: Akron, Buffalo, California, Central Florida, Colorado State, DePaul, Murray State, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Oregon State, St. Bonaventure, Texas Christian, Washington State, Western Kentucky, Wright State
Conf H: East Tennessee State, George Mason, George Washington, Illinois State, Louisiana Tech, Loyola (IL), Massachusetts, Missouri State, New Mexico, Old Dominion, Saint Josephs, San Francisco, South Dakota State, Texas-El Paso, UC-Irvine, UC-Santa Barbara
Conf I: Bradley, Charleston, Drake, Duquesne, Fresno State, Indiana State, La Salle, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Northeastern, Pacific, South Florida, Toledo, Valparaiso, Winthrop, Yale
Conf J: Charlotte, Drexel, Georgia State, Harvard, Hofstra, Iona, Miami (OH), North Dakota State, North Texas, Oral Roberts, Pepperdine, Princeton, Santa Clara, Stephen F. Austin, Wofford, Wyoming
Conf K: Bowling Green State, Detroit Mercy, Eastern Washington, Furman, Green Bay, Hawaii, Louisiana-Lafayette, Loyola Marymount, Milwaukee, Montana, NC-Greensboro, Oakland, Siena, Southern Illinois, Weber State, Western Michigan
Conf L: Air Force, Ball State, Boston University, Bucknell, Chattanooga, Cleveland State, East Carolina, Evansville, Grand Canyon, Long Beach State, Mercer, NC-Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Sam Houston State, San Diego, Texas-Arlington
Conf M: Arkansas State, Austin Peay, Coastal Carolina, Fairfield, IUPUI, Illinois-Chicago, Liberty, Little Rock, Manhattan, Morehead State, Rice, Rider, South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, Tulane, William & Mary
Conf N: Albany, American, Cal State Fullerton, Central Michigan, Colgate, Delaware, Denver, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Southern, Holy Cross, James Madison, Lehigh, Niagara, Stony Brook, Texas-San Antonio
Conf O: Abilene Christian, Appalachian State, Cal State Bakersfield, Canisius, Fordham, Lipscomb, Monmouth, NC-Asheville, Northern Illinois, Portland, Portland State, Robert Morris, Saint Peters, Southern Utah, Troy, UC-Riverside
Conf P: Brown, Cal State Northridge, Columbia, Cornell, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Idaho, MD-Baltimore County, Northern Colorado, Northern Kentucky, Purdue Fort Wayne, South Dakota, Tennessee Tech, Texas State, Towson, Utah Valley
Conf Q: Army, Elon, Florida International, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Jacksonville State, Loyola (MD), Montana State, Navy, Northern Arizona, Quinnipiac, Radford, Samford, Tennessee State, Wagner, Youngstown State
Conf R: Bellarmine, Cal Poly, Hampton, Jacksonville, Lafayette, Lamar, Long Island, Marist, Mount St. Marys, New Orleans, North Florida, Northwestern State, San Jose State, Southern, UC-Davis, Western Carolina
Conf S: Campbell, Central Connecticut, Eastern Illinois, Hartford, Idaho State, Kansas City, Louisiana-Monroe, Norfolk State, Omaha, SE Missouri State, Sacramento State, Sacred Heart, St. Francis (NY), Texas A&M-CC, Texas Southern, VMI
Conf T: California Baptist, Charleston Southern, Dartmouth, Fairleigh Dickinson, McNeese State, Morgan State, NC-Central, New Hampshire, Nicholls State, SE Louisiana, Saint Francis (PA), Seattle, So. Carolina Upstate, Stetson, Texas-Rio Grande, Western Illinois
Conf U: Bethune-Cookman, Binghamton, Bryant, Citadel, Coppin State, Delaware State, Florida A&M, Howard, Jackson State, Maine, NJIT, North Carolina A&M, North Dakota, Prairie View, Tennessee-Martin, UC-San Diego
Conf V: Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Central Arkansas, Chicago State, Grambling, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Kennesaw State, Longwood, Mass-Lowell, Merrimack, Mississippi Valley, North Alabama, Presbyterian, SIU Edwardsville, South Carolina State

But as previously mentioned, this conference alignment leaves 5 teams out, so they are listed as independent teams. In reality those teams exist in a state of transition between Division I and Division II. Unofficially (and you might well say derisively) they are referred to as “Not Ready For Prime Time”. They will play as many games as they can against Division I teams during pre-conference play but no further games against Division I opponents the rest of the season (during the period of conference play).

These 5 Independent teams are: Alcorn State, Dixie State, Tarleton State, MD-Eastern Shore, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The coaches for those 5 teams are: Ramon Montez, Terry Morillo, Ken Yamoto, Mike McMillan, and Dontell Spencer. Let’s see how those coaches do. Who will be most successful?

[Note: Using the new “Universe Mode” just introduced to DDSCB this year, we’re going to assess how each of these teams and their head coaches progress and compare their results.]

Game Setup:

• DDSCB2021
• Universe Mode
• Promotion/Relegation
• Start Yr: 2030
• Allow illegal recruiting
• Brutal Recruiting Difficulty (but it was relaxed to Normal difficulty level in mid-November after the recruiting performance by the teams indicated CPU controlled recruiting with Brutal difficulty level for these 5 teams put them at a disadvantage compared to the other 352 teams for which Brutal level recruiting difficulty didn’t apply.)
• 200% Injury Factor
• High Job Pressure
• So that I won’t favor any one of the 5 teams, I will let the AI handle all chores, I’ll skip summer, and will sim all games.

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Bio’s of the Five Independent team coaches:

Ramon Montez:  Alcorn State Braves (Lorman, MS-prestige 3), Contract: $80K for 3 yrs., Age 46, Dream Job: New Mexico Lobos, High Ambition, Average Academics, High Discipline, Integrity-Avg, Temper-6, Player Preference-6, Player Rotation-4, Offensive Pace-6, Off. Crash Boards-6, Defensive Intensity-5, Def Crash Boards-5, Full Court Defense-6, Zone 8,Defense-2, Offense-33, Defense-24, Scouting-33, Player Development-26, Recruiting-34. 

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Terry Morillo:  Dixie State Trailblazers (St. George, UT, Prestige-1), Contract: $80K for 3 yrs., Age 51, Dream Job: St. Johns Red Storm, Medium Ambition, Low Academics, Low Discipline, High Integrity, Temper-7, Player Preference-7, Player Rotation-6, Offensive Pace-3, Offensive Boards-7, Defensive Intensity-7, Def Crash Boards-6, Full Court Def-4, Zone Defense-6, Offensive-23, Defense-37, Scouting-23, Player Development-39, Recruiting-28.  

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Ken Yamato:  Tarleton State Texans (Stephenville, TX, Prestige-3), Contract-$80K for 3 yrs., Age 52, Dream Job: Northwestern Wildcats, High Ambition, Very High Academics, Very low Discipline, High Integrity, Temper-3, Player Preference-3, Player Rotation-8, Offensive Pace-6, Offensive Crash Boards-6, Defensive Intensity-6, Defensive Crash Boards-5, Full Court Def-3, Zone Defense-4, Offense-25, Defense-32, Scouting-23, Player Development-29, Recruiting-41.

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Mike McMillan:  MD-Eastern Shore Hawks (Princess Ann, MD, Prestige-1), Contract $80K for 3 yrs., Age-35, Dream Job: Georgetown Hoyas, Average Ambition, Average Academics, Very High Discipline, Low Integrity, Temper-8, Player Preference-6, Player Rotation-4, Offensive Pace-4, Offensive Crash Boards-5, Defensive Intensity-8, Defensive Crash Boards-5, Full Court Def-7, Zone Defense-9, Offense-21, Defense-40, Scouting-26, Player Development-32, Recruiting-31. 

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Dontell Spencer:  Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (Pine Bluff, AR, Prestige-3), Contract $80K for 3 yrs.,  Age-56, Dream Job: North Carolina State Wolfpack, Ambition-High, Average Academics, Low Discipline, High Integrity, Temper-6, Player Preference-4, Player Rotation-3, Offensive Pace-8, Offensive Crash Boards-7, Defensive Intensity-4, Defensive Crash Boards-6, Full Court Defense-2, Zone Defense-2, Offense-37, Defense-20, Scouting-22, Player Development-26, Recruiting-45.

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Before the season began the five Independent teams’ coaches got together. Here’s some excerpts from that meeting.

Terry: Our schools were odd-man out in this NCAA reorganization. We get to play games against Division I teams from any of the 22 conferences, but once they start playing conference games, we will be excluded from any further games that season against Division 8 opponents.

Ramon: Well, besides everyone thinking our respective programs suck so badly that none of our teams is in any of the conferences there is one thing that is similar among us.

Mike: What’s that?

Ramon: We’re all rookie head coaches. None of us has ever coached a college game. But, to be honest, I’m sort of happy the NCAA got into so much hot water. If they hadn’t we probably would never have been able to move up from coaching at the high school level.

Dontell: A lot of those old-time coaches got to thinking they could do anything…and it finally caught up with them. They brought down the whole rotten mess.

Ken: I think that not being included in the conference alignment and never having coached at the college level means we’re probably the hungriest coaches. If nothing else, our salaries definitely make us hungry.

Mike: True, there’s no where to go but up for us.

Terry: Well, we’ve all had a lot of success coaching high school, so I think we’re gonna surprise some people at this level.

Mike: Coming in at his level where we aren’t even part of the conference hierarchy means we all gotta go out and kick some butts.

Dontell: From here on out we may be opponents when our teams play each other, but let’s make a pact…to get together after each season, no matter how the season has gone or what conference each of us may eventually be in. I’ve definitely got a chip on my shoulder since the five of our teams (and each of us by extension) are being called “Not Ready for Prime Time”. I’m afraid that no matter how high we rise that stigma may be attached to us. So we need to hang together.

Mike: You got it! I think the NCAA not including us in a conference has put a chip on all our shoulders.

Ken: Yeah, I’m for getting together annually.

Ramon: Count me in.

Terry: The motto of the 5 of us should be: “All for one and one for all”. So our keeping tight together makes us the 5 Musketeers.

Ramon: Well, guys, I’m gonna remain friendly with every one of you, but let me tell ya. One of us is going to move from being an Independent to joining Conference V after this first season. And I’m going all out to be the one!

Dontell: [Laughing} Hey man, you may live to rue THAT comment.

Ken: May all of you have good luck, but just a little less good than mine will be.

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Roster and Recruiting Prognosis:

Alcorn State:
Ramon Montez—"Our strength appears to be up front where we have 3 solid players: PF Will Neely and C’s Don Barnes and Scott Hackworth. We’re weakest at PG. We have a pretty young team so need to will work hard on player development. We have just one graduating senior, but hopefully we can land one good recruit.”

Dixie State:
Terry Morillo—"We have 4 juniors on the team but the rest of our players are underclassmen. With no seniors, that means no replenishment through recruiting this year. I think we have a lot of players with good potential, but they need more experience. PF Cliff Hanavan and C Vincent O’Bannon look to be our best players. O’Bannon is just a freshman but has a lot of talent.”

Tarleton State:
Ken Yamoto—"I like our strength at all positions with the possible exception of SG. We have just 2 seniors but they’re our two strongest interior players, so hopefully we can land a couple talented big men through recruiting. PG Lennox Blackshear is our team leader and together with C Dante Bedford gives us a good inside/outside duo.”

MD-Eastern Shore:
Mike McMillan—"We’re pretty solid at all positions this season, so that makes me optimistic. But we have 5 seniors who will be graduating, 4 of whom are likely to be starters this season. So we need to have a robust recruiting effort or we’ll be hurting next season. My concern, though, is that my assistant coaches aren’t good recruiters and we don’t have the funds to hire a good recruiter so we’ll need to make do with what we have and hope for the best.”

Arkansas-Pine Bluff:
Dontell Spencer—"We’ll only have one scholarship to offer this year. PG Milton Cox is a freshman but comes to us with glowing reports and may well become our best player this season. Another freshman, PF Dexter Thorne, also looks like a star in the making and seems sure to crack our starting lineup.”

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Scheduling:

Each of the 5 independent teams was able to schedule 15 or 16 games against whatever Division I teams were willing to play them during pre-conference play.  The 5 teams’ records in those games will determine which team gets promoted next season.  The team with the best record will move up to Division V next season.  The other teams will remain as Independents next season.  So their fates are on the line during the pre-conference period of the season.  Play well or stagnate. 

Scheduling will be a factor since, while they are playing as Independents, the strength of their schedules may vary substantially and the number of home/away games will also be widely different.  But hopefully the best teams will rise to the top.  As one of the AD's of the 5 "Not Ready for Prime TIme" schools said, "Getting more established teams to put us on their schedule is like my kids to eat vegetables.  And even when they deign to play us, most all of them don't want to play us on our home court.  They don't want to take more of a chance of losing to us than they have to. I should be getting bonus pay for trying to create a schedule for our basketball team."

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Recruiting Results: 

Summer and fall recruiting has concluded and the season is about to begin.  Here’s some comments from each of the 5 coaches about their recruiting:

Ramon Montez, Alcorn State—"We only had one scholarship to offer.  As I’d said earlier, I felt we needed to strengthen ourselves at the point and we landed a PG.  Dana Turner is 6’1” and is playing his final year of high school ball in Enterprise, MS.  He’s not highly ranked, but the kid is a passing whiz and a solid ball-handler.  He needs to work hard on his defense and hasn’t been a big scorer but he’s got a good outside shot…just needs to gain more confidence in it.  His coach says he works hard, so while he may not be an instant factor for us, I think he will grow into the job.”

Ken Yamoto, Tarleton State—"OK, I screwed up.  I had so many things to do as a new head coach that I left recruiting in the hands of Jason Holmes, my 1st Assistant Coach.  He kept saying he was making progress.  But lo and behold he wasn’t.  He just didn’t get the job done, a total failure.  I’ve decided I have to take the reins and try my best to rectify what’s been a total disaster thus far.  Our active list of recruits is basically bare.  So it’s sort of like starting from ground zero and seeing if I can land a couple of the remaining recruits this spring…hopefully big interior guys.  And Jason?  We don’t have the money to fire the [bleep]er and rehire right now…but his time with us is growing short.  I’m hoping he can help us in other ways for the remainder of his time with us this season but then I got assistant coach shopping.”

Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore—"We lassoed a JC PG from Stratford, CT—6’1” Clayton Davis.  He’s a good court general with excellent passing skills but he’s not a scorer or defender.  We still have 4 more scholarships to fill so we’ve got a lot of work to do.  We need at least 2 more guards.  We have a good list of possible recruits who are showing at least some interest.  Our problem is that our funds are getting pretty limited.  It’s gonna be touch and go.  I guess I’ll have to mainly do phone work to try to build interest until spring when we can try to pick up the remaining 4 guys.  The difference in our recruiting budgets is likely to ultimately impact how the different coaches in our small group of five do.”

Dontrell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff—"We only need to pick up one new recruit this year.  So while we recruited, it wasn’t our main focus.  Instead I mainly worked on getting us ready for the upcoming season which starts this week.  We did make scholarship offers to a couple guys, but lost out to other schools.  Recruits are definitely skittish about committing to an Independent school.  I’ve got no worries about being able to get the right guy this spring though.  There’s still some good guys on the board.  We’re going to take a new look at who remains available and create a nice little list and build interest slowly through the winter and then pounce in April.”

Terry Morillo, Dixie State—"We got no one, but needed no one.  With no scholarships to offer, we simply spent our recruiting budget on making contacts in Utah and nearby states hoping that will help us in the future.

With no scholarships available I had nothing to gain or lose during recruiting.  But I don’t think any of my fellow 4 coaches really were able to pull away from us during the summer/fall recruiting period.   My analysis of their results didn’t indicate that any of them added a star to their team.  Ken, Mike and Dontrell have been left with big recruiting jobs during the rest of the season since their summer/fall recruiting was far less than stellar.  At this point they can’t truly expect their remaining scholarships will be filled until April.”

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2030-2031 Season Highlight/Lowlights/Comments:

Ramon Montez, Alcorn State Braves:

Ø  3-game win streak, beating the Rider Broncs 71-59, Sam Houston St. Bearkats 76-69, and Dayton Flyers 72-58 early in season to improve record to 3-1.  PG Rudy Johnson scored 60 points in those 3 games.

Ø  Back-to-back losses to the Green Bay Phoenix and New Hampshire Wildcats in which the team gave up 96 and 95 points.  Braves’ defense let the Phoenix hit 51% of FG’s and 50% of 3’s and the Wildcats hit 70% of FG’s and 50% of 3’s.

Ø  SG Jimmie Fuller has back-to-back 27-point games, hitting 19 of 29 FGA’s and 5 of 9  3PA’s, and 11 of 12 FTA’s.

Ø  Alcorn State wins 8 and loses 7, averaging 76.7 ppg but giving up 78.9 ppg, NET was 173rd best.

Ø  Top players: PG Rudy Johnson: 16.7 ppg and 5.8 apg and hit 54% of his FGA’s and 42% of his 3PA’s; SG Jimmie Fuller: 15.5 ppg and 4.0 rpg and hit 52% of FGA’s and 39% of 3PA’s; PF Will Neely: 8.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg; C Don Barnes: 8.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg.  All 4 will return as seniors next season.

Ø  Recruiting: PG Dana Turner, 6’1”HS Sr from Enterprise, MS, outstanding passer, strong ball handler, nice outside shot but doesn’t shoot much, weak defender.

Ø  Ramon Montez: “Overall we did pretty well.  Two losses were against Providence (Conf D and #16 in the polls) and Temple (Conf E) and we beat Dayton (Conf D).  With all but one player returning next year I think we’re going to be a force, particularly if we can tighten up our defense.”

Terry Morillo, Dixie State Trailblazers:

Ø  SG Jerry McCutcheon was the Trailblazers top scorer in 10 of their 15 games and he scored over 20 points in 3 of those games.

Ø  Two 3-game loss streaks.

Ø  Dixie State finished their Division I season with a 4-11 record, scoring 67.1 ppg while giving up 73.7 ppg, NET was 350th best.

Ø  Top players: SG Jerry McCutcheon: 15.2 ppg; PF Gregg Linney: 8.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg; C Cliff Hanavan: 8.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg.  Entire team returning next year.

Ø  Recruiting: Had no scholarships to offer.

Ø  Terry Morillo: “Tough year and we were over-matched far too often.  So a lot of disappointments this season.  But we had an extremely young squad with 4 freshmen and 5 sophomores and no seniors.  So next year we have a lot to prove, but I’m confide we’ll make a big step forward.”

Ken Yamoto, Tarleton State Texans:

Ø  Won 2 of first 3 games this season.

Ø  But then the Texans crashed as they sustained a 5-game loss streak and later lost 6 straight games.

Ø  C Dante Bedford scored 20+ points in two games and had 10+ rebounds in four games.

Ø  Tarleton State won just 3 games and lost 12, averaging 70.3 ppg while their opponents scored 78.0 ppg, NET was 323rd best.

Ø  Top Players: C Dante Bedford: 10.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg; PF Isaac Canady: 10.6 ppg and 5.7 rpg; SG Mark Jordan: 9.9 ppg and 3.2 apg; PG Lennox Blackshear: 8.5 ppg and 5.7 apg.

Ø  Recruiting: Failed to fill either of 2 available scholarships.

Ø  Ken Yamoto: “The starters did a great job this season, but we lacked depth.  We’ll have our 3 perimeter starters back this coming season.  But both of our interior starters are graduating, so that could make it tough for us to take a big step forward unless Tyson Chambers and Brett McCoy who subbed at PF and C and will be juniors next year come on strong.  Pulling off a recruiting miracle this spring would do wonders for us, but failing to do so could mean another tough year for the Texans.”

Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore Hawks:

Ø  Won 7 of 8 at home.

Ø  But won just 1 of 7 on the road.  Our away games were against some much tougher competition though.

Ø  SG Mike Brown and C Ike Dotson each had two 20+ point games.

Ø  Losing 5 players to graduation including 3 of this season’s starters.

Ø  Have only filled 1 of the 5 scholarships that come available next year.

Ø  Won 8, lost 7, averaging 70.5 ppg and giving up 69.1 ppg, NET was 174th best.

Ø  Top Players: C Ike Dotson: 13.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg; SF Josh Delk: 11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg; SG Mike Brown: 10.7 ppg, 4.1 apg.

Ø  Recruiting: Filled 4 of 5 available scholarships (SF Frank Davis, 6’7” HS Sr from Rossville, GA, Good scorer with excellent outside shooting, weak rebounder; PF Joe Carson, 6’8” HS Sr from Kamuela, HI, Good insider shooting but doesn’t shoot much, strong rebounder and shot blocker; PG David Bradley, 6’0” JC Soph from Delano, MN, Outstanding passer, excellent ball handler, excellent outside shooter but doesn’t shoot much, weak defender; PG Clayton Davis, 6’1” JC Soph from Stratford, CT, great passer, strong outside shot but doesn’t shoot much, poor defender).

Ø  Mike McMillan: “Overall this was a good year.  But losing so many seniors is really going to make next year challenging to fill those holes.  Ike Dotson will be back, though, so we’re going to have to call on him to take on an even bigger role than he did this past season.”

Dontrell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions:

Ø  We won 3 of our first 4 games.

Ø  Playing 12 of our 16 games on the road was a recipe for disaster.  And many of those games were against tough competition, including 8th ranked Gonzaga.  Undoubtedly, we had the most difficult schedule of any of the Independent teams.

Ø  Two 3-game loss streaks derailed our season.

Ø  C Chad Boyce had two 20+ point games and two games with 10+ rebounds.

Ø  Losing Chad Boyce to graduation, but freshman C Imari McDonald looked good coming off the bench.

Ø  Final record was 6-10. We scored 78.1 ppg but our opponents scored 83.5 ppg, NET was 202nd best.

Ø  Top Players: C Chad Boyce: 14.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg; SG Henry Edmond: 13.0 ppg, 2.3 apg; PG Milton Cox: 9.4 ppg, 4.8 apg; SF Warren Kincaid: 8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg; PF Dexter Thorne: 7.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg.

Ø  Recruiting: Failed to fill the one available scholarship.

Ø  Staffing change: After 2nd assistant coach Waitari Thomas retired, hired James Boyce to fill the position.

Ø  Dontrell Spencer: “Our schedule torpedoed our season, but I was proud of how well our guys did while playing on the road so much.  Next season we really need to focus more on defense.  We’re losing Chad Boyce, but he’s the only senior and it looks like Inari McDonald will be ready to start at C.  Along with McDonald, freshman PG Milton Cox was impressive…and a 3rd freshman, PF Dexter Thorne did well starting.  Therefore, we should be a much stronger team next season.”

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End of 2030-2031 Season Odds-and-ends

All 5-Coach Team:

PG-Rudy Johnson, Alcorn St., 16.7 ppg, 5.8 apg (also MVP amongst the 5 teams)

SG-Jerry McCutcheon, Dixie St., 15.2 ppg

SF-Josh Delk, MD-Eastern Shore, 11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg

PF-Isaac Canady, Tarleton St., 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg

C-Chad Boyce, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 14.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Tournament Champs:

NCAA: Alabama

NIT: California Baptist

CBI: Maryland

CIT: Illinois

Probation:

Northern Illinois: 1 season with no scholarships, head coach Walter Mitchell fired.

Promotion:

Alcorn State was promoted to Conference V replacing the Alabama A&M Bulldogs who were relegated to be an Independent.

Other movement in conferences:

·       Marquette, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Purdue promoted to Conf A and Wisconsin, Villanova, Illinois, and Florida relegated to Conf B.

·       UCLA, Clemson, San Diego State, and Seton Hall promoted to Conf B and Creighton, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State relegated to Conf C.

·       Arkansas, Louisiana State, VA Commonwealth, and Providence promoted to Conf C and Stanford, Indiana, Pittsburgh, and Iowa relegated to Conf D.

·       Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Utah, and Houston promoted to Conf D and Mississippi, Saint Mary’s, Dayton, and Southern California relegated to Conf E.

·       Southern Methodist, Belmont, Rhode Island, and Boston College promoted to Conf E and Wake Forest, Texas A&M, Nevada, and Penn State relegated to Conf F.

·       California, Saint Bonaventure, Washington State, and Buffalo promoted to Conf F and Rutgers, Vermont, Kent State, and Richmond relegated to Conf G.

·       East Tennessee State, Loyola (IL), UC-Santa Barbara, and Texas-El Paso promoted to Conf G and Western Kentucky, Wright State, Texas Christian, and Ohio relegated to Conf H.

·       Yale, Winthrop, Drake, and Fresno State promoted to Conf H and New Mexico, South Dakota State, Louisiana Tech, and Massachusetts relegated to Conf I.

·       Wyoming, North Dakota State, Hofstra, and Santa Clara promoted to Conf I and South Florida, Middle Tennessee, Marshall, and La Salle relegated to Conf J.

·       Loyola Marymount, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Western Michigan promoted to Conf J and Princeton, Iona, Wofford, and Drexel relegated to Conf K.

·       Evansville, Bucknell, Air Force, and Cleveland State promoted to Conf K and Eastern Washington, Siena,  Detroit Mercy, and Furman relegated to Conf L.

·       Illinois-Chicago, Rider, William & Mary, and Coastal Carolina promoted to Conf L and Long Beach State, East Carolina, San Diego, NC-Wilmington relegated to Conf M.

·       Texas-San Antonio, Holy Cross, Lehigh, and Georgia Southern promoted to Conf M and Morehead State, Manhattan, Arkansas State, and Little Rock relegated to Conf N.

·       UC-Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield, Abilene Christian, and Portland State promoted to Conf N and Denver, American, Albany, and Niagara relegated to Conf O.

·       Utah Valley, MD-Baltimore County, Brown, and Towson promoted to Conf O and Monmouth, Troy, Canisius, and Saint Peters relegated to Conf P.

·       High Point, Youngstown State, Army, and Elon promoted to Conf P and Northern Colorado, Cal State-Northridge, Tennessee Tech, and Idaho relegated to Conf Q.

·       Marist, San Jose State, New Orleans, and Northwestern State promoted to Conf Q and Navy, Quinnipiac, Tennessee State, and Northern Arizona relegated to Conf R.

·       Texas Southern, Idaho State, Norfolk State, and Louisiana-Monroe promoted to Conf R and Bellarmine, UC Davis, North Florida, and Jacksonville relegated to Conf S.

·       Charleston Southern, Texas-Rio Grande, SE Louisiana, Saint Francis (PA) promoted to Conf S and Omaha, VMI, Campbell, and SE Missouri State relegated to Conf T.

·       Prairie View, North Carolina A&T, Tennessee-Martin, and Delaware State promoted to Conf T and Morgan State, McNeese State, Western Illinois, and Nichols State relegated to Conf U.

·       Grambling, Incarnate Word, Mississippi Valley, and Mass-Lowell promoted to Conf U and Florida A&M, Howard, Bethune-Cookman, and Binghamton relegated to Conf V.

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Get-together of the 5 Coaches (Ramon Montez, Terry Morillo, Ken Yamoto, Mike McMillan, and Dontrell Spencer):

Dontrell: OK guys, I really wanted to be the team that was promoted, but it looks like my team has a long ways to go.  But congratulations, Ramon on Alcorn State being promoted!

Ramon: Thanks. I’m really looking forward to competing in conference play.  Mike, you gave me a helluva run for this promotion.  Our records were the same, but our net barely edged your MD-Eastern Shore team’s NET.  I guess now the pressure increases for my team since we sure don’t want to finish last in Conference V and just slip back down the ladder.

Mike: To be honest, I’m disappointed.  But I want to also congratulate you and your team, Ramon.

Ken: Yes, well done Ramon.

Terry: With Alabama A&M dropping down as an Independent, we need to all improve so that one of us has the team moving up after this coming season. 

Mike: Yeah, we need to be sure to out-perform Alabama A&M so they don’t just move right back up.

Ken: I guess I take the booby-prize for our initial season.  This was a lot tougher than I expected.

Terry: Yeah, I agree that coaching at this level is a lot more difficult than our high school coaching days.

Dontrell: Worst part of it is that the school administrations are pressuring us to do better, but we all ran into a brick wall trying to get budget or facility upgrades that would help us to be more successful.
 

Ramon: I sure thought getting promoted would get us an approval by the board, but no way.

Ken: Hey Mike, I need to talk with you later since you did pretty well on the recruiting front.  I sure fell on my face in that regard.

Dontrell: Don’t fell alone, Ken.  I had similar problems.  I thought that would be the easiest part of the job for me. I feel like a complete failure there.

Ramon: Hey! Don’t get down.  This was our first year and we now have some experience under our belt.  It’s not surprising we all have things to learn.  Going up against more-established Division I teams was a tough challenge for all of us and recruiting was totally new.

Mike: Yeah I agree.  We all just gained a whole year of knowledge and experience that will make all of us better in our future coaching careers. 

Terry: Here’s to the 5 of us and to big improvements this coming season!

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2031-2032 Season

Team Prestige

The experience and small successes of the 5 teams resulted in small gains in prestige:

Alcorn State: From 3 to 6

Dixie State: From 1 to 4

Tarleton State: From 3 to 4

MD-Eastern Shore: From 1 to 5

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: From 3 to 5

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Summer and Fall Recruiting Results:

Ramon Montez, Alcorn St.: By Nov. 13, had filled 2 of 4 scholarship openings.  2 other offers were made, but the recruits opted for other teams.  SG Mike Gallagher is a 6’0” JC sophomore from Woodville, MS who does all his scoring from outside and is very athletic.  C Gabriel Atwood is a 6’8” high school senior form Canada.  He’s good at hitting his shots inside but also can knock them down outside as well.  Besides scoring well, he has strong rebounding skills.  Having landed a C and SG, that successfully addressed 2 needs.  Surprisingly one of our 2 recruits is from Canada…still not sure how we pulled that one off.  I’d like to recruit at least one more big man.  Our recruiting budget has certainly decreased, but I think we have enough to continue to be active.

Terry Morillo, Dixie St.: None of the 4 scholarships that were available were filled by Nov. 13.  Made one offer but the recruit chose another school.  I want at least one big man and one SF…need to build interest and sign some guys in the spring.  We have plenty of money remaining in our recruiting budget.

Ken Yamoto, Tarleton St.: Landed 2 transfer players (PG Mike Catlett, a 5’11” sophomore from Sells, AZ transferring from Northern Arizona where he had played little as a freshman; and PF Eric Pebbles, a 6’6” sophomore from Daly City, CA transferring from California Baptist where he had played a little as a freshman).  Then by Nov. 13 had filled none of the remaining 3 scholarship openings.  Only offer was rejected when the recruit chose to go elsewhere.  It’s damn tough trying to get recruits to consider Tarleton State.  If we can get up into the conference, maybe things will ease up in the future.  Fortunately we have plenty of money remaining in our recruiting budget.

Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore: None of the 4 available scholarships had been filled by Nov. 13.  I made 3 offers, but all 3 of those recruits chose to go to another school.  But just gotta keep chipping away at it.  Our funds for recruiting are beginning to be a real concern.  Our recruiting budget is dire. It will definitely be a limiting factor for us.

Dontell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: 5 scholarships to fill but just one recruit had accepted a scholarship as of Nov. 13.   SF Danny Logie is a 6’7” JC sophomore this year so will come to us as a junior next season and is from Danville, AR.  He’s got a nice shot from both outside and inside, but isn’t much of a rebounder or defender, unfortunately.  Offers to 3 other recruits weren’t accepted since they chose other teams.  While I’m glad we picked up a recruit, there’s still a helluva lot of work to do.  We will need to be frugal to be able to successfully recruit in the spring.

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Rosters and Outlook:

Ramon Montez, Alcorn St.:  This season definitely will be a big challenge since we moved up to Conference V and need to perform well to avoid dropping back down.  We have good strength up front with seniors PF Will Neely (8.5 ppg and 6.6 rpg last season) and C Don Barnes (8.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg last year) anchoring the interior.  Senior Rudy Johnson came to Alcorn St. as a SG but did a fantastic job for me last season at PG (16.7 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.2 rpg).  At SG again will be senior Jimmie Fuller (15.5 ppg and 4.0 rpg last year).  Sophomore Benjamin Delk started most of our games during his freshman season at SF and averaged 6.3 ppg and 3.6 rpg.  He may be challenged to start at SF by Tony Fife (4.1 ppg last season).  I’m really concerned about out depth at the guard positions…w’lle have 4 guys competing for time, but none of them have stepped up yet to show me much.  Our perimeter defense at this point is particularly weak also.  Surprisingly we’re predicted to finish 5th in Conference V…that’s a lot of pressure, but if we can accomplish that I’d be pretty darned happy in our first year of contending in the conference.  If we’re to do it, our starters are going to have to carry the team.

Terry Morillo, Dixie St.:  After what we did last year, it seems there is no where to go but up.  I think our starters are pretty solid across the board.  Junior SG Jerry McCutcheon is back after leading our scoring last season with 15.2 ppg.  Junior PF Gregg Linney did a good job for us last year inside with 8.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg.  Last year senior Cliff Hanavan started at C and averaged 8.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg, but this season Isaac Trent (5.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg last year) could challenge him to start.  At SF senior Jason Marshall (6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg) started most of our games last season and I think he’ll be much stronger this year.  Sophomore Joel Knight was our starting PG last year and averaged 7.3 ppg and 3.9 apg.  Our bench seems solid this year.  I’m optimistic that we can improve significantly from our 4-11 record of last season.  I really want to get us up into Conference V.  Our schedule with 9 of 15 games away could make that difficult.

Ken Yamoto, Tarleton St.:  The college basketball world seems to be lined up against Tarleton State.  We sucked last season (3-12) and now this year we are saddled with a schedule that starts with 11 straight games on the road and only 2 games in the 15 that will count for us.  What’s with that?  On a positive note, we have 3 returning starters: senior SF Artju Morris (8.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg), senior PG Lennox Blackshear (8.5 ppg, 5.7 apg), and sophomore SG Mark Jordan (9.9 ppg).  But outside that nucleus, there’s trouble.  Inside we will be starting two players who came off the bench for us last season: junior C Tyson Chambers (6.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and PF Brett McCoy (4.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg).  And that’s not the “trouble”.  The trouble is that we really have no one to back them up inside.  So those boys are going to be dog-tired each and every game.  We may have to play some small ball this season because we just don’t have any big guys to come off the bench.  So, we’re going to need some magic to happen some way or another this season.  Getting good players to come here is tough…Stephenville is a small city in the middle of Texas with nothing much around it.  No wonder it’s known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World”.  Tarleton State is an unknown part of the Texas A&M University system.

Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore:  We were an eyelash from being promoted last season.  This year we are going to move up.  We’re loaded at C.  Senior Isaac Dotson was great for us last season, scoring 13.5 ppg and pulling down 6.1 rpg.  But junior Roby Ford scored 6.7 ppg while averaging just 12.3 mpg coming off the bench and while junior Mike House didn’t play much, he’s ready to do a good job inside for us this year.  Senior Malone Morgan (3.7 ppg and 2.1 rpg last year) will likely start at PF.  So I’m feeling good about our interior play this year.  We have a returning starter coming back at PG…Valery Rogers (5.9 ppg, 2.6 apg).  At SF, senior Thomas Dennis (2.7 ppg and 1.4 rpg) and at SG, junior Chris Seals (2.1 ppg) were bit players last year but should do fine as starters this year.   So we don’t have the experience that some of the other teams may have this year, but I believe in this team.  10 of our 15 games are on the road, but we’ll just have to overcome that obstacle.

Dontrell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff:  We don’t have the stars, but I think we have the depth to be a force this season.  Also, for an Independent, we have a reasonable schedule with 7 of our 15 games at home.  SF Warren Kincaid (8.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) is now a senior and will likely be our team leader.  Inside we have sophomore C Imari McDonald (7.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and sophomore PF Dexter Thorne (7.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg).  At SG senior Henry Edmond averaged 13.0 ppg and 3.6 rpg last season.  We have another returning starter at PG with sophomore Milton Cox (9.4 ppg and 4.8 apg).  So a pretty decent group of starters.  And to build upon all that, we have a deep bench with players at every position who can come in and contribute.  I’m predicting we’ll be in Conference V after this season.  Besides playing out our season, we still need to put a lot of work into recruiting, so that will definitely divert some of my attention.  But I just can’t wait to begin playing games this season. 

Preliminary scouting of the new Independent, Alabama A&M, indicates their guards and interior players are pretty strong, but they are weak at SF.  They have a tough schedule with only 3 of their 15 games at home.  And with that, let the games begin!

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Season Results:

Ramon Montez, Alcorn St.:  Another season in the books.  Before the season started they picked us to finish 5th in Conference V and lo and behold, where’d we finish?  Tied for 5th (with 4 other teams) with a 9-7 conference record.  We ran off 4 straight wins to begin conference play and things looked rosy.  But in the latter stages of the conference schedule we lost 4 straight when our defense went south and that sunk our hopes of finishing in the Top 4.  We had a winning season record at 14-13, but then we lost in the first round of the conference tourney to finish the year at 14-14.  Our net was not impressive: 276th.  But most of our opponents were in Quadrant #4 and even though we were 11-6 against those, that does help much for NET.  We averaged 70.7 ppg and gave up 71.2 ppg.  Finishing in the upper half of the conference was pretty good, but if we could have eked out another win or two in the conference we could have been in the top 4 and advanced.  Instead we’ll be in Conference V again next season.  We’re losing 4 starters to graduation, so our younger guys need to develop quickly.

Top players: PG Rudy Johnson-11.1 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.2 spg; C Don Barnes-10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg; SG Jimmie Fuller-9.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg; PF Will Neely-9.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg; PF James Roberts-8.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg; SF Benjamin Delk-7.2 ppg, 4.0  rpg, 1.1 spg.

Award: Don Barnes, Conference V Defensive Player of the Year and Conference V 2nd Team All-Conference

Terry Morillo, Dixie St.:  We won 5 out of 6 at home and lost 7 of 9 on the road.  But our two road wins were exciting…a 66-64 victory over Toledo and a 66-65 win against SE Missouri State with both games close the entire way and lots of lead changes in both.  So we ended our Division I season with a 7-8 record which wasn’t as good as I had hoped or expected.  Our NET was 236th best.  One team stat that stood out was that we hit 78.5% of our free throws, which was 22nd best in the country.  SG Jerry McCutcheon scored 20+ points in 5 of our games.  SF Gregg Linney and C Isaac Trent each had 10 or more rebounds in 3 games and one or the other of them was our top rebounder in 13 of our 15 games.  We scored 71.3 ppg this season gave up 75.5 ppg.

Top Players: SG Jerry McCutcheon-13.5 ppg, 2.6 apg; PF Gregg Linney-12.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg; C Isaac Trent-9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg; SF Jason Marshall-7.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg; PG Antonio Huss-6.3 ppg, 3.3 apg.

Ken Yamoto, Tarleton St.:  Another miserable season for us.  We won just 2 games while losing 13.  Again though, the odds were stacked against us with only 2 of the 15 games being home games.  We suffered through a 7-game and two 3-game losing streaks.  We averaged 66.3 ppg while giving up 77.3 ppg.  Our NET was 349th best so there were 8 teams worse than us.  Our best game was a 63-56 victory on the road against Charleston.  In our final game, we nearly pulled off an upset on the road over Conf F St. Louis in a Quadrant 1 game, losing a heart-breaker 90-86…a game in which SF Mark Pryor came off the bench to toss in 23 points in 24 minutes of play.

Top Players: SG Lennox Blackshear-12.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg; C Tyson Trent-10.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg; PF Brett McCoy-10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg; SF Art Morris-9.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg; PG Mark Jordan-8.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.3 apg; SF Mark Pryor-7.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg.

Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore:  Our season was torpedoed by a 5-game losing streak toward the end of our season.  On a positive note, we finished the season by winning our final two games.  But we finished our Division I play with a 6-9 record and a NET that was 213th best in the country.  We averaged 71.2 ppg while our opponents scored 76.0 ppg against us.  PG Valery Rogers scored 20 or more points in 4 games including 30 in an overtime win over Florida Gulf Coast.  C Ike Dotson had two 20+ point games and four 10+ rebound games.

Top Players: PG Valery Rogers-12.9 ppg, 4.0 apg; C Ike Dotson-12.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg; PF Malone Morgan-8.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg; SF Thomas Dennis-7.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg; SG David Bradley-7.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 apg; C Roby Ford-7.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg.

Dontrell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff:  Our record was 9-7 but that included a loss in the first round of the NIT Tournament.  We began the season by winning 6 of our first 7 games.  Our NET was 86th best.  We scored 81.1 ppg (15th best in Division1) while our opponents scored 78.3 ppg.  We shot great, hitting 48.4% of our FGA’s (42nd best) and 40.1% of our 3PA’s (14th best).  We’re excited that we will be advancing to Conference V next year.

Top Players: C Imari McDonald-13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg; SG Henry Edmond-13.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg; PF Marcus Huld-12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.2 spg; PG Milton Cox-8.8 ppg, 4.8 apg; SF Warren Kincaid-7.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg; PG/SG Steve Smith-7.1 ppg, 2.9 apg.

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Posted (edited)

All 5-Coach’s Team:

PG: Valery Rogers, MD-Eastern Shore, 12.9 ppg, 4.0 apg

SG: Lennox Blackshear, Tarleton State, 12.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg

SF: Gregg Linney, Dixie State, 12.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg

PF: Marcus Huld, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.2 spg

C : Barnes, Alcorn State, 10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg (also MVP amongst the 5 teams)

Tournament Champs:

NCAA: Brigham Young

NIT: UNLV

CBI: Duke

CIT: Tennessee

Probation:

Delaware State- loss of scholarships for one year.

Edited by PointGuard

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Promotion:

By achieving the best record amongst this season’s 5 Independent teams, the MD-Eastern Shore Hawks have been promoted to Conference V.  To offset this promotion the Presbyterian Blue Hens, that had the worst record in the Conference V standings will be relegated to become an Independent for the upcoming season.

Other Promotions/Relegations:

Conference A: Villanova, San Diego State, Notre Dame & Illinois were promoted to A while Kansas, Ohio State, Alabama, & Marquette were relegated to B.

Conference B: Creighton, Butler, North Carolina State & Arkansas were promoted to B while Tennessee, Syracuse, Wisconsin & Florida were relegated to C.

Conference 😄 Iowa, Kansas State, Virginia Tech & Vanderbilt were promoted to C while Georgetown, Miami (FL), Oklahoma State & Cincinnati were relegated to D.

Conference 😧 Belmont, Temple, Georgia & Southern Methodist were promoted to D while Missouri, Georgia Tech, Stanford & Minnesota were relegated to E.

Conference E: Saint Bonaventure, UNLV, Saint Louis & Boise State were promoted to E while Southern California, Saint Mary’s, South Carolina & Dayton were relegated to F.

Conference F: Colorado State, UC Santa Barbara, Vermont & DePaul were promoted to F while Alabama-Birmingham, Nevada, Tulsa & Northwestern were relegated to G.

Conference G: Ohio, George Mason, Fresno State & Yale were promoted to G while Northern Iowa, New Mexico State, Loyola (IL) & Oregon State were relegated to H.

Conference H: Duquesne, South Dakota State, Toledo & Pacific were promoted to H while San Francisco, Texas Christian, Missouri State & UC Irvine were relegated to I.

Conference I: Western Michigan, LaSalle, Harvard & Miami (OH) were promoted to I while Hofstra, Charleston, Northeastern & Valparaiso were relegated to J.

Conference J: Bowling Green, Montana, Drexel & NC-Greensboro were promoted to J while Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, South Florida & Marshall were relegated to K.

Conference K: Texas-Arlington, Pennsylvania, William & Mary and Furman were promoted to K while Evansville, Princeton, Oakland & Wofford were relegated to L.

Conference L: Holy Cross, Fairfield, Lehigh & Rice were promoted to L while Chattanooga, Eastern Washington, Coastal Carolina & Siena were relegated to M.

Conference M: Abilene Christian, Stony Brook, Portland State & Little Rock were promoted to M while Southern Mississippi, NC-Wilmngton, Liberty & San Diego were relegated to N.

Conference N: MD-Baltimore County, Utah Valley, Robert Morris & Towson were promoted to N while Cal State Fullerton, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan & Delaware were relegated to O.

Conference O: Florida Gulf Coast, Elon, South Dakota, High Point were promoted to O while Portland, Niagara, American & Fordham were relegated to P.

Conference P: Marist, Radford, Florida International & San Jose State were promoted to P while Cornell, Columbia, Purdue-Fort Wayne & Canisius were relegated to Q.

Conference Q: Western Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe, Cal Poly & Quinnipiac were promoted to Q while Montana State, Samford, Cal State Northridge & Tennessee Tech were relegated to R.

Conference R: S.E. Louisiana, Hartford, Texas-Rio Grande & Texas A&M-CC were promoted to R while Lamar, Texas Southern, Navy & Southern were relegated to S.

Conference S: Fairleigh Dickinson, California Baptist, VMI & Stetson were promoted to S while Jacksonville, St. Francis (NY), Eastern Illinois & Central Connecticut were relegated to T.

Conference T: Citadel, Grambling, Bryant & Morgan State were promoted to T while S.E. Missouri State, Tennessee-Martin, NC-Central & Seattle were relegated to U.

Conference U: Central Arkansas, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman & Marymount were promoted to U while Western Illinois, NJIT, North Dakota & UC-San Diego were relegated to V.

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Staff Changes:

Arkansas-Pine Bluff fired 1st assistant Tom McFall and 2nd Assistant James Boyce resigned to move to UC-Santa Barbara.  Hired Eddie Beeson as 1st Assistant and Michael Smith as 2nd Assistant.

Recruiting:

Alcorn State: All 4 available scholarships filled: PF Will Friel, 6’6” HS senior from Shaw, MS; PF Virgil Brown, 6’6” HS senior from Houston, MS; SG Mike Gallagher, 6’0” JC sophomore from Woodville, MS; and C Gabriel Atwood, 6’8” HS senior from Canada.

Dixie State: 1 of 4 scholarships filled: PG Tyler Anderson, 6’5” HS senior from  Monument Valley, UT.

Tarleton State: None of 3 scholarships filled.      

MD-Eastern Shore: 3 of 4 available scholarships filled: SF Junior Sarchet, 6’8” HS senior from Boston, MA; PG Omar Briggs, 6’2” JC Sophomore from South Berwick, ME; and PG Tyron Andrus, 6’4” JC sophomore from Freedom, PA.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Filled just 1 of 5 available scholarships: SF Danny Logie, 6’7” JC sophomore from Danville, AR.

Poor recruiting by all by Alcorn State is likely to result in weakened rosters.

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Get-together of the 5 Coaches (Ramon Montez, Terry Morillo, Ken Yamoto, Mike McMillan, and Dontrell Spencer):

Mike: We already have two seasons of coaching at the collegiate level under our belts.  Time flies!

Ken: Maybe for you, but these two years have seemed like two decades to me.  It seems as though nothing has gone right for me.

Terry: Don’t be so tough on yourself, Ken.  Coaching at Tarleton State would be difficult for anyone.  And your AD screwed you over with that hellacious schedule that had you playing on the road nearly 90% of your games. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Mike: I agree.  In fact, if I were you, I’d be keeping my ears to the ground to see what coaching jobs are coming open and trying to make a move.  Even though you may think your record at Tarleton would make that difficult, there are openings at the end of every season at conference teams and your experience is going to be a selling point.

Ken: I’m staying for the upcoming season.  I just hope we can have some significant improvement, although being unable to land recruits is going to make that a real challenge.

Ramon: On another tack, let me be the first to congratulate Dontell on his team’s promotion to Conference V.  Great Season, Dontell and sure will be good to have you joining our team in “V”.

Dontrell: Thanks, Ramon.  We actually will go against each other this coming season.

Mike: I’m jealous.  But I am happy for you, Dontell.

Ken: I think congratulations are in order for Ramon also.  Your recruiting program just got rated as the 182nd best in Division I.  While some might not think finishing midway up that rating is much to crow about, doing so by one of our programs with no basketball pedigree is aces in my mind.  Particularly when the rest of our recruiting efforts were all rated near the bottom of those same ratings.

Terry: My intel indicates that none of us were able to get a budget or facilities upgrade AGAIN!

Ramon: Yeah, I would have thought our board would be ecstatic that we got invited to the NIT and be willing to show their gratitude.  But they think our facilities are just fine already.

Dontrell: I ran out of money to recruit plus we got promoted and the board still woudn’t approve a budget increase!  But I never see anyone from our board at our basketball games so getting them to appreciate anything we do is probably near impossible.  But I really can’t complain.  I chose to come here because it’s a Historically Black Colleges and University.  The administration and alumni are focused on moving up the rankings of HBCU’s.  So available funds are devoted to raising our academics.  Diverting those to sports is a tough sell.

Ken: Presbyterian got booted down into the Independents.  What’s your assessment of their chances this coming season?

Ramon: I wouldn’t worry much about them doing well enough to get back into Conference V.  My guess is that next season’s promotion from the Independents to Conference V will be one of the one of your three remaining Independent teams.  At least, I sure hope so.

Terry: Hey, steaks are about ready on the bar-b-que.  Refill your drinks and let’s eat.

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2032-2033 Season

Transfers:

Only Alcorn State has a full roster.  The other 4 schools either need to pick up some transfer players or take on a number of walk-ons.

Alcorn State: Coach Ramon Montez said, “I’m happy that we have a full roster right now.  So we won’t be going after any transfer players, obviously.  But our team will have 4 seniors this year so we’ll need to aggressively pursue recruits ths coming year.”

Dixie State: “This year we’ll be seeing who’s available to pick up as transfer players.  With 3 scholarships that are open now, if we don’t get a couple transfer players, we’ll have too many recruits to go after since 5 of our players will be graduating at the end of this coming season,” said Coach Terry Morillo.

Tarleton State: Coach Ken Yamoto said, “We picked up two transfer players last year who will be able to play for us this season.  With 3 unfilled scholarships, we’re hoping to find a couple more transfer players this year.  This year we have 4 seniors on our roster so we’ll still have a lot of recruiting to do.”

MD-Eastern Shore: Coach Mike McMillan parroted the words of Morillo and Yamoto by saying, “We really need to fill some scholarships.  Going into this summer we have just 11 of 13 available scholarships filled.  And of those 11 on our roster, 6 are seniors so we need to have success in both picking up transfer players and then getting a bunch of recruits throughout this coming season.”

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: “We’ve only got 8 scholarships filled.  So transfer season is of utmost importance.  Fortunately only 2 of our 8 scholarship players presently on our roster will be seniors this season.  But with so many openings now, we will have a big job once recruiting season begins,” explained Coach Dontrell Spencer.

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Transfer Season Results:

Dixie State picked up 2 transfer players: SG Tim Manheimer (6-0 sophomore from Aliso Viejo, CA who is transferring from Cal State Northridge where he was redshirted and then the next season as a redshirt freshman, he played in just 7 games and whose main strengths are as a ball hawk on defense and passing and ball handling on offense) and PF Henry Hughes (6-8 junior from Emmett, ID who is transferring from Boise State where in his freshman year he as rarely used but as a sophomore he came off the bench in all games averaging 4.7 ppg and 3.3 rpg).  That leaves only one scholarship unfilled so that the Trailblazers will have 3 walk-ons this season.

Tarleton State landed C Alijah Acorn (6-9 sophomore from Canada who is transferring from Tennessee Tech where he played in half their games as a freshman, averaging 6.5 mpg, 5.3 ppg and 1.0 rpg).  That still left two scholarships unfilled which results in the Texans having 4 walk-on players this year.

MD-Eastern Shore didn’t sign any transfer players.  That means they will have 4 walk-on players this season.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff signed PG Dwayne Robinson (6-0 sophomore from Chicago, IL who’s transferring from SIU Edwardsville where he played in all their games as a freshman, starting in two and averaging 13.9 mpg, 7.2 ppg, and 1.7 apg and was reported to be a very good ball handler and passer who likes to put the ball in the hoop).  But Coach Spencer will be challenged this coming season because his four remaining unfilled scholarships means he will have 6 walk-ons on the team.

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Recruiting Hell

Recruiting has been the bane of most of these 5 coaches.  Landing 2, 3 or even 4 recruits is a lot of work, but certainly within the realm of possibility for most colleges.  For teams that are off the radar of Division I basketball, it’s even tougher.  But this season some of the 5 coaches will have a large number of available scholarships.

Here’s the recruiting challenge for each of the 5 coaches and how they did during the summer and fall:

Ramon Montez at Alcorn State: The Braves had 4 available scholarships and their biggest need was for guards.  By Nov. 13 they had verbal commitments from 3 recruits: PG Josh Branson, a 6-1 HS senior from Senatobia, MS who is an excellent outside shooter and a great passer; PG Todd Young, a 6-0 HS senior from Okolona, MS who’s a very good passer and ball handler; and C Jarrett Dudley, a 6-9 HS senior from Purvis, MS who looks to be a sound rebounder.  Coach Montez said, “I was really happy to get a couple of good PG’s.  For the remaining scholarship, we’re going to go after the best recruit we can land, regardless of position.”

Coach Terry Morillo, Dixie State:  Coach Morillo said, “We’ve filled 2 of the 6 scholarships we have coming open after this season.  While I’m happy to have landed those two, still having 4 to to fill means we need to be successful this spring.”  The recruits who intend to come to Dixie State are: PF David Greer and PG Nate Johnson.  Greer in a 6-7 high school senior from Orem, UT who averaged 10.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg as a junior.  He has good athleticism so should have the stamina to play long stretches.  His main forte is rebounding.  Johnson is from South Jordan and as a junior he scored 16.1 ppg and had 3.2 apg.  He’s an outstanding outside shooter and a good passer and ball handler. The Trailblazers also like his height, 6’4”, feeling he can be an asset at either PG or SG.

Coach Ken Yamoto, Tarleton State:  “We may not be the best recruiters, but we’re not incompetent.”  But the Texans again failed to fill any of their scholarships thus far.  So with 6 to go, things aren’t looking good for yet another year.

Coach Mike McMillan, MD-Eastern Shore: The Hawks are another program having recruiting problems.  They had 7 scholarships to fill and only filled one of those thus far.  That person is PF Tony Reuter from Tamaqua, PA.  He’s a 6-6 high school senior who as a junior last season averaged 13.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg.  He’s a good inside shooter and a better outside shooter.  Reuter’s a very good rebounder, is very athletic, and hasn’t had any injuries.  Coach McMillan said, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that we only filled 1 of 7 scholarships.  It’s not that we weren’t trying.  We had 3 guys turn us down.  The big problem for us comes down to money.  Our recruiting budget is just simply inadequate.  That paints a bleak picture for the remainder of this year in trying to get recruits interested in us.”

Coach Dontrell Spencer, Arkansas-Pine Bluff:  “I’m happy we have 2 recruits who have given us verbal acceptances.  I’m unhappy that we still have 4 scholarships to fill,” said Coach Spencer.  He added, “We missed out on a couple guys we thought we’d land and now we don’t have much money left in our coffers.”  One of the recruits coming to play for the Golden Lions next year is SG Paul Marley who is a 6-0 high school senior from West Memphis, AR and who averaged 15.2 ppg and 2.9 rpg in his junior year.  Extremely athletic, Paul is a very good scorer from outside.  He’s also a very solid passer and ball handler meaning he may be able to handle the point as well as the 2.  The other recruit they landed is C Jaraan Daniels.  Daniels hails from Sherwood, AR where he is a junior college sophomore.  In his freshman year last season he scored 9.6 ppg and hauled in 7.4 rpg.  He’s a solid interior player, rebounding strongly and exhibiting excellent inside shooting skills, but he needs to put the ball up more often.

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Posted (edited)

Thoughts of Coach Ramon Montez:

“The reorganization by the NCAA was a welcome act and one that was past due.  So I salute the NCAA on doing so.  But their decision to place 5 teams in a form of purgatory…on the periphery of but not really a part of Division I…while initially intriguing, has put the 5 schools that were assigned to that purgatory in a very precarious position with some definite undue burdens that I believe were not initially foreseen. 

I say this with a deep appreciation that I, along with 4 other coaches who had excelled as high school coaches, were given the opportunity to move into the collegiate coaching ranks.  But the Independent ranks have severe limitations. 

First, Independents are only able to play half rather than a full season of Division I basketball.  And only one of the five can ultimately be successful each season. 

Second, scheduling is not only difficult, but more significantly it most often results in the Independents being penalized.  Most colleges won’t play Independents.  If they do, most want to play at home against the Independents.  So most Independents play a very high percentage of their games on the road, thus often ensuring they will have a losing record. 

Third, the fact that the Independents are not really a part of Division I makes it exceedingly difficult to recruit.  Not only is it extremely difficult for Independents to have a chance at landing talented recruits, but it’s now obvious that for many of the Independents, it is nearly impossible to fill vacant scholarships.  This then creates a downward cycle for an Independent team where they have fewer scholarship players and are forced to have more and more walk-ons.  When that happens, how can they be expected to contend successfully?

So rather than a “Scarlet Letter A”, these initial Independent teams were tattooed with a “Scarlet Letter I”.  And for the 2 teams that were placed as Independents that never before had been a part of Division I (Tarleton State and Dixie State), the “I” was a bright fluorescent scarlet letter.

I say this with a sense of “there but by the grace of God go I”.  Alcorn State was extremely fortunate to have prior-history in Division I and then achieve the best record the first year of this new organization of teams.  So we were able to escape the clutches of Independent-hood quickly.  If we had not, we’d be in the same predicament as the initial 5 that still are trapped in the quicksand of being an Independent. 

After getting into Conference V, recruiting is still difficult as would be expected for a team in the lowest conference tier, but it’s noticeably easier than it was as an Independent.  And now that MD-Eastern State has followed us to Conference V, I believe that after a season in Conference V, their recruiting will improve as well.

Given what we now know about being an Independent, I have encouraged the remaining coaches of the initial 5, to try to escape by whatever means possible.  And the way would be to walk…apply for and get hired at a college that presently is in a Division I conference and walk away from their existing Independent predicament.

I realize that given the existing promotion/relegation system, one college each season will be dropping into the Independent ranks.  I hope and believe that those colleges who initially were thought of as “Conference teams” have been inoculated from the Independent curse.  Recruits won’t be so reluctant to accepting scholarships from those colleges and other colleges won’t be so averse to scheduling games with them and playing on an Independent’s home court.”

Edited by PointGuard

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