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College Basketball in the Carolinas
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Al Myatt's
State Line Hoops Rankings©

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State Line Hoops Rankings© — 11/13/01

1. Duke ... The defending national champions lost Shane Battier and Nate James from last year’s NCAA champions but point guard Jason Williams may be the best player in the country. Transfer Dahntay Jones should be a presence on the wing. Mike Dunleavy and Casey Sanders have added weight which should allow them to be more physical. Sanders could emerge and allow Carlos Boozer to move from the low post to the four spot. Chris Duhon can step it up offensively, giving Coach Mike Krzyzewski another weapon in the backcourt. Freshman Daniel Ewing is another athletic guard. The Blue Devils will miss Battier’s leadership but they may be even more talented this year. Matt Christensen and Nick Horvath can be summoned for frontcourt depth.

2. North Carolina ... Some eyebrows were raised when the Tar Heels sustained a decisive exhibition loss to a team that had lost to Old Dominion among other teams. One extenuating factor was that Jason Capel didn’t play. Still, there are questions about the point guard spot if Ronald Curry doesn’t play. Kris Lang will rebound and score steadily, and 6-foot-6 Jackie Manuel could provide immediate and needed point production. Freshman Jawad Williams should similarly provide instant frontcourt help. The jury is still out on second-year Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty, who pushed the team to No. 1 midseason, but who struggled to deal with combat fatigue by his players down the stretch.

3. Wake Forest ... The new boss of the Deacons is Skip Prosser, a likeable guy who was hired when Dave Odom bailed out for bigger bucks at South Carolina. Odom didn’t leave the cupboard bare and Prosser has molded the returning talent to his style of pressing defense and fast break offense. The team stumbled after a 12-0 start last season, possibly because center Darius Songaila was burned out after playing for Lithuania in the Olympics the previous summer. Broderick Hicks is under-appreciated at the point and Ervin Murray is a solid back-up, who started during the 2000 run to the NIT title. Josh Howard is an exciting small forward. Shooting guard Craig Dawson and big forward Antwan Scott have shown signs of stepping up. Newcomers Vytas Danelius, another Lithuanian, and Steve Lepore, a transfer from Northwestern, may figure in Prosser’s plans. The Deacons edged UNC-Wilmington 79-78 in their season opener on Monday night.

4. Charlotte ... The 49ers don’t even have football but Coach Bob Lutz is 9-1 in the Conference USA tournament with two titles. Shooting guard Jobey Thomas is an exceptional shooter with a league record 236 career three-pointers. The 49ers are one of 15 schools that have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five years. Charlotte becomes an instant natural rival for East Carolina.

5. N.C. State ... This looks to be a pivotal season for Coach Herb Sendek, who has yet to get the Wolfpack into the NCAA Tournament in his five years at State. The Pack didn’t even make the NIT field last season but Sendek won respect in many circles when he dismissed Damien Wilkins from the program. You definitely need a program to learn all the new players in the program, the best of which is supposed to be 6-6 McDonald’s All American Julius Hodge. Guards Anthony Grundy and Archie Miller lead the returning cast. The addition of former Ohio head coach Larry Hunter to the coaching staff may pay dividends behind the scenes.

6. South Carolina ... The new home of Dave Odom, who took over after Eddie Fogler’s last team went 15-15 overalll and 7-11 in the SEC. Odom assumes control of a program that was last in the league in scoring (68.1) and shooting, 41.7 percent. Guards Aaron Lucas and Jamel Bradley as well as center Tony Kitchings all averaged in double figures in scoring last season, providing a workable returning nucleus. Chuck Eidson supports Kitchings in the frontcourt.

7. College of Charleston ... John Kresse has 539 wins in 22 years of coaching the Cougars. Senior guard Jeff Bolton, who averaged 16.1 points last season, and Leighton Bowie, a 6-6 junior forward who averaged 9.8 points, are the top returnees from a 22-7 team which was 12-4 in the Southern Conference.

8. Clemson ... The departure of high-scoring guard Will Solomon for the NBA after his junior season leaves the Tigers without their go-to guy. Coach Larry Shyatt’s youthful roster features five freshmen and three sophomores. The sophomores — guard Tony Stockman, swingman Dwon Clifton, and muscular forward Chris Hobbs, will shoulder leadership roles. Freshman guard Chey Christie of Biloxi, Miss. was highly-rated nationwide on the high school level — No. 39 by one prominent recruiting analyst. Based on his ability and out of necessity as well, he could quickly become to the Tigers what Solomon has been in recent years.

9. UNC-Wilmington ... A solid mid-major program under Jerry Wainwright, who enters his eighth season as head coach. Hard-nosed defense and patient offense are Wainwright trademarks. Junior guard Brett Blizzard made all-conference for the second straight season after averaging 13.8 points last season although the Seahawks’ hopes for a second straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship were rebuffed 35-33 by George Mason in the league tournament final. The Seahawks settled for the NIT rather than punching their ticket for a second straight NCAA appearance. UNCW is the preseason favorite in a league which lost American, East Carolina and Richmond while gaining Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra and Towson. Senior forward Ed Williams is the frontcourt leader. He averaged 12 points and 6.4 rebounds last season.

10. East Carolina ... The Pirates embark in Conference USA with some solid young talent and ambitious third-year coach Bill Herrion. Expectations must be tempered with reality as ECU moves from being an also-ran in the Colonial Athletic Association, rated 15th nationally in the Sagarin ratings, to C-USA, rated seventh. The Pirates sail into those uncharted waters without Gabriel Mikulas and freshman Moussa Badiane, whose eligibility must be defined because they played on teams internationally on which other players received payment. Mikulas was CAA rookie of the year last season. Freshmen Devin Boddie, a guard from Durham Jordan who was state high school player of the year last season, and forward Jonathan Moore are brimming with potential. Brandon Hawkins and Travis Holcomb-Faye are capable backcourt leaders. Kenyatta Brown and Fred Primus can provide scoring from the perimeter. Sophomore Erroyl Bing has considerable physical presence and skills. ECU opens its season on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Rutgers at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh in the Black Coaches Association Invitational. The Pirates continue play Thursday and Friday in the BCA at the ESA.

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THE NOT-SO-SWEET 17 — 11/13/01

11. UNC Asheville (Big South Conference).

12. Winthrop (Big South Conference).

13. Davidson (Southern Conference).

14. Appalachian State (Southern).

15. South Carolina State (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).

16. Gardner-Webb (independent).

17. Wofford (Southern).

18. Furman (Southern).

19. UNC Greensboro (Southern).

20. The Citadel (Southern).

21. N.C. A&T (Mid-Eastern).

22. Western Carolina (Southern).

23. Campbell (Atlantic Sun).

24. Coastal Carolina (Big South).

25. Elon (Big South).

26. Charleston Southern (Big South).

27. High Point (Big South).

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02/23/2007 01:03:25 AM
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