COLLEGE BASKETBALL PREVIEW

The Baltimore Sun

Division I

COPPIN STATE

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Coach: Fang Mitchell, 22nd season at Coppin State (342-281)

2006-07 record: 12-20 (9-9 MEAC)

Arena: Coppin Center (1,720)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Hampton

Consensus Coppin State prediction: Eighth

Starters lost: Three

Outlook: It has been more than a decade since the Eagles prevailed in the MEAC, and they have now been overtaken by cross-town rival Morgan State. The customary meat grinder of an early schedule has them going to Hawaii, Arizona State, Ohio State, Marquette, Indiana and Missouri and making a tournament date with Xavier or Kent State. After that enriches the athletic department's coffers, they will strive to improve their scoring and rebounding outputs in conference play. The strength starts with all-league pick Tywain McKee (17.4 ppg), the MEAC's second leading scorer last season. But he is sure to attract plenty of defensive attention, so veterans Antwan Harrison (9.2 ppg) and Robert Pressey (6.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg) will have to upgrade the offense. Freshman Vince Goldsberry is the probable starter at point guard.

LOYOLA

Affiliation: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Coach: Jimmy Patsos, fourth season at Loyola (39-48)

2006-07 record: 18-13 (12-6 MAAC)

Arena: Reitz Arena (3,000)

Consensus MAAC favorite: Siena

Consensus Loyola prediction: Second

Starters lost: One

Outlook: The Greyhounds are making notable strides under Patsos, who will now be working with his own recruits. Their 18 wins were the most since 1970-71, and with four starters and nine letter winners back, they stand a good chance to reach 20. All-MAAC senior Gerald Brown (22.2 ppg) is the nation's third-leading returning scorer and led the league in steals. Add sharpshooter Marquis Sullivan (13.1 ppg), F Omari Isreal (9.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg), G Brett Harvey (7.4 ppg), sixth man Michael Tuck and 6-10 Hassan Fofana, a starter before being injured, and Loyola has scads of experience. Add transfer G Joe Miles, a part-time regular at Marshall, and this looks like a team that might go a long way. It might not stop at the league tournament semifinals this time.

MORGAN STATE

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Coach: Todd Bozeman, second season at Morgan State (13-18)

2006-07 record: 13-18 (10-8 MEAC)

Arena: Hill Field House (4,250)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Hampton

Consensus Morgan State prediction: Fourth

Starters lost: One

Outlook: The surprise team in the league last season, Morgan went to the semifinals in the tournament before being ousted by Delaware State. Some incoming talent should help continue the momentum upward. Marquise Kately, 6-5, 220 pounds, sat out last season after transferring from Bozeman's former school, California, and local freshman Kevin Thompson (Walbrook), 6-8, 235 pounds, averaged 17.6 points and 11.2 rebounds for the Warriors. Another first-year player, 6-5, 230-pound Ameer Ali, comes with impressive credentials from Camp Springs (18 ppg, 10 rpg). Holdovers Jamar Smith (12.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Jerrell Green, 6-9 Boubacar Coly and Reggie Holmes form an experienced nucleus. It has been a long time since the Bears were picked in the upper half of the standings in preseason polls, but nobody takes them lightly anymore.

MOUNT ST. MARY'S

Affiliation: Northeast Conference

Coach: Milan Brown, fifth season at Mount St. Mary's (41-76)

2006-07 record: 11-20 (9-9 NEC)

Arena: Knott Arena (3,121)

Consensus NEC favorite: Sacred Heart

Consensus Mount St. Mary's prediction: Fourth

Starters lost: Two

Outlook: The Mount won its first playoff games in seven years and will be a factor in its conference thanks to a guard tandem that will be among the NEC's best. Leading the charge will be point guard Jeremy Goode (10.1 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Chris Vann (13.6 ppg), the only significant senior on the roster, in a guard-oriented league. Mount St. Mary's needs to be more consistent offensively, but now has experience despite its relative youth. F Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell will be counted on to supply points. The fifth spot is a tossup between Will Holland and Kelly Beidler. Outside the league, the schedule is challenging (George Washington, Oregon and Oklahoma on the road) plus Winthrop and the traditional showdown with Loyola. The regular season is important in the NEC because the tournament is played at the court of higher seeds throughout.

NAVY

Affiliation: Patriot League

Coach: Billy Lange, fourth season at Navy (34-52)

2006-07 record: 14-16 (4-10 Patriot)

Arena: Alumni Hall (5,710)

Consensus Patriot favorite: Holy Cross

Consensus Navy prediction: Seventh

Starters lost: Three

Outlook: Despite three departed starters, the Midshipmen return more than 75 percent of their scoring, starting with captain Greg Sprink (16.9 ppg), an All-Patriot preseason choice and the No. 1 scorer back in the league. He is joined by Kaleo Kina (9.2 ppg) on a roster that set a school record for three-pointers and free-throw percentage last season. The accent is on backcourt shooting, but there is a question about who is going to get the ball for the shooters, particularly because 6-10 Trey Stanton, who flashed promise in the pivot, transferred out of the academy to Rice. If 6-10 Mark Veazey or 6-9 Jeremy Wilson can develop in the post, Navy will be much more formidable. There have been potentially helpful additions, but the Midshipmen basically will rise and fall on their ability to hit from the perimeter.

TOWSON

Affiliation: Colonial Athletic Association

Coach: Pat Kennedy, fourth season at Towson (33-56)

2006-07 record: 15-17 (8-10 CAA)

Arena: Towson Center (5,000)

Consensus Colonial favorite: George Mason

Consensus Towson prediction: 12th

Starters lost: Two

Outlook: The Tigers will have to persevere without defensive whiz Tommy Breaux until at least January after he suffered a foot injury playing football. That's not good news for a team that already lost its offensive whiz, Gary Neal, who accounted for 37 percent of the points. Kennedy will build around holdovers C.C. Williams (6.0 ppg), the point guard, G Tim Crossin, G Rocky Coleman and F Jonathan Pease (4.3 ppg), whose career has been marred by injury and illness. He will need immediate help from a raft of transfers, including Tony Durant, the 6-7 brother of Kevin Durant, and freshman Robert Nwankwo. Towson won a first-round game in the Colonial tournament before losing a tough one to Old Dominion in the next round. It will have to mesh a lot of new faces quickly to have impact this time.

UMBC

Affiliation: America East

Coach: Randy Monroe, fourth season at UMBC (33-57)

2006-07 record: 12-19 (7-9 America East)

Arena: Retriever Activities Center (4,000)

Consensus America East favorite: Boston University

Consensus UMBC prediction: Fifth

Starters lost: Two

Outlook: The Retrievers won a tournament game for the first time under Monroe and have been fortified by three transfers who figure to make them a contender this season. Start with hardworking Darryl Proctor, who averaged 7.4 rebounds during two seasons at Coppin, and add two former James Madison players, G Ray Barbosa, who has 1,013 career points, and F Cavell Johnson, and this could be a takeoff run for UMBC. The most prominent returning player is preseason all-league pick Brian Hodges (14.7 ppg), but point G Jay Greene (9.0 ppg, 5.3 apg) is also a capable player. A 6-9 left-hander, Justin Fry, could be an important cog for a team that appears well-stocked at the front but probably can ill afford any key injuries. Monroe's big challenge is to develop a bench.

UMES

Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Coach: Meredith Smith, first season at UMES (interim)

2006-07 record: 4-27 (1-17 MEAC)

Arena: Hytche Athletic Center (5,500)

Consensus MEAC favorite: Hampton

Consensus UMES prediction: 11th

Starters lost: Two

Outlook: In a word, bleak. Smith, an assistant under Larry Lessett, will be in charge until the school conducts an intensive search for a permanent replacement starting in January. Lessett technically resigned after the Hawks nearly went winless in the MEAC before a last-game victory over Howard. In addition, the team lost three of its top four scorers and is top-heavy with transfers and walk-ons of unknown quality under game conditions. There is only one senior returning for a squad that was outscored by 13 points per game and out-rebounded by eight. Ed Tyson (Walbrook) was the No. 1 offensive threat (16.4 ppg) and returns, but there isn't much to recommend UMES, which is battling a lot of long odds.

DIVISIONS II, III

Division II

BOWIE STATE

Affiliation: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Coach: Luke D'Alessio, ninth season (160-76)

2006-07 record: 19-10 (11-9 CIAA)

Outlook: The Bulldogs lost a prolific two-man attack, All-America G Gil Goodrich (25.5 ppg, 7.4 apg) and Tyronne Beale (21.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), both all-CIAA selections. D'Alessio will rebuild around guards Jason Ingram (9.4 ppg) and Orlando Wright (10.8 ppg) and, as usual, will come up with a few surprises among his newcomers. Keep an eye on Arthur Bowers, a transfer from Massachusetts who sat out last season, and big men David Paris (California) and Anthony Ivory (Temple), two more Division I transfers. Bowie was picked second in the Eastern Division behind rival Virginia Union in the preseason poll.

Division III

FROSTBURG STATE

Affiliation: Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference

Coach: Webb Hatch, ninth season (103-113)

2006-07 record: 10-16 (9-9 AMCC)

Outlook: Nine letter winners (including four starters) return for the Bobcats, who should be balanced and deep. All-conference performer Antoine McCall (14.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) could rejoin the team after serving an internship. Two graduate seniors and two in their undergraduate senior years will provide leadership. Brian Green (7.8 ppg) will direct from the point, and Dale DeBerry (12.8 ppg, 76 three-pointers) will be his running mate. Heading the frontcourt are Jermaine Kapombe (5.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg), who became a regular late last season, and Jade Belt (6.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg).

GOUCHER

Affiliation: Landmark Conference

Coach: Leonard Trevino, 18th season (229-212)

2006-07 record: 7-18 (4-12 Capital Athletic Conference)

Outlook: The Gophers embark on a new conference membership that often will take them to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They will confront it without their two most productive scorers from last season, James Russo (18.8 ppg) and Pierre Jones (17.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg). This is a young roster that should improve as it plays on but might take some time to jell. There is some athleticism but a question to resolve at point guard, where Pat Bailey and Miguel Negron are vying for the job. The most experience is at forward, where Cameron Brown (9.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Tim Merrit (3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg) are the returning full-time regulars.

Hood

Affiliation: Capital Athletic Conference

Coach: Tom Dickman, fifth season (60-43)

2006-07 record: 21-8 (12-4 CAC)

Outlook: The returning regular-season league champion and tournament finalist (lost to Catholic), Hood should be challenging for both honors again. The Blazers have a high-scoring tandem back in crafty guard Ryan Junghans (20.5 ppg) and 6-8 senior center Jesse Gutekunst (19.0 ppg, 11.4 rpg) and a third starter in Tim Abercrombie (9.0 ppg). The major decisions for Dickman will focus on point guard, where sophomore Nick Scott is likely to take over, and the development of some depth from among six new candidates. The Pride of Maryland tournament will be an early testing ground.

JOHNS HOPKINS

Affiliation: Centennial Conference

Coach: Bill Nelson, 22nd season (352-199)

2006-07 record: 24-5 (15-3 CC)

Outlook: Nelson has operated a strong program at Hopkins for two decades, and last season was one of his finest when the team captured the regular-season and tournament titles. With a powerful frontcourt game, the Blue Jays advanced to the second round of the national tournament before losing to Guilford. But Hopkins won't be able to pound the ball inside as much this season and will have to rely more on quickness, speed and fast breaks. Outside shooter Doug Polster (8.6 ppg) is the leading returning scorer and Collin Kamm (4.1 ppg) is back at the point. The post players are young and must develop.

MCDANIEL

Affiliation: Centennial Conference

Coach: Kevin Curley, first season

2006-07 record: 11-14 (8-10 CC)

Outlook: A late defeat to lowly Washington kept the Green Terror out of the postseason last season, but it will start with a new coach and a fresh outlook. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare for Curley, who inherits decent size, some experience and three productive starters. Sophomore Miguel Jones (6.9 ppg, 29 assists) will step in as the point man after coming off the bench, joining Ryan Brandenburg. (14.8 ppg, 70 three-pointers) in the backcourt. Up front, the anchors are Brett Foelber (11.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and defensive specialist Chad Arrington.

SALISBURY

Affiliation: Capital Athletic Conference

Coach: Steve Holmes, eighth season (73-108)

2006-07 record: 12-14 (7-9 CAC)

Outlook: Graduation hit hard for the Sea Gulls, who played the most memorable game in the state last season, a 126-122, five-overtime loss to Marymount on Valentine's Day. Missing from the new cast will be Ray Williams, who scored 22.3 points a game, and Segun Odumeru, who averaged 14.3. Holmes must rebuild with many new faces and little height. Three part-time starters from last season, seniors Gary Ward (7.2 ppg) and Jonas Vaitkus (2.2 ppg) and junior Sean Whittaker will be forced to carry much of the burden for Salisbury, which lost in the league tournament quarterfinals.

ST. MARY'S

Affiliation: Capital Athletic Conference

Coach: Chris Harney, third season (25-27)

2006-07 record: 16-11 (9-7 CAC)

Outlook: This could be an enjoyable season for the Seahawks, who reached the conference semifinals before losing to Hood. They return four regulars. The three leading scorers are back to lead the way, headed by a solid backcourt in Tyson Lesesne (18.5 ppg) and point guard Mike Smelkinson (11.8 ppg, 4.2 apg). The post parade's marshal is 6-7 C Alex Irmer (13.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), the primary figure on a unit with good size. Harney is excited about several freshmen as well, so hopes are high for a team that could challenge for the league championship.

VILLA JULIE

Affiliation: Capital Athletic Conference

Coach: Brett Adams, 14th season (116-215)

2006-07 record: 20-8 (14-2 CAC)

Outlook: Villa Julie is the only Maryland school to gain its respective national tournament in back-to-back seasons but couldn't stretch beyond the first round in March playing Hopkins at Homewood. Four starters have graduated, and the fate of this team might depend a lot on 6-9 C Kerry Dugan, who was out for nine months and underwent microfracture surgery on an ankle. The top returning scorer is G Jason Lambert (9.9 ppg), and the point position is likely to be handled by a two- or three-player committee. Defense and rebounding will be crucial.

WASHINGTON

Affiliation: Centennial Conference

Coach: Rob Nugent, seventh season (57-94)

2006-07 record: 4-20 (3-15 CC)

Outlook: One of the smallest teams in the conference, Washington also will be hurt by a lack of experience. There are no seniors and only two juniors on the Shoremen roster. Seven sophomores will have to mature quickly if this team is to prosper, and it is crucial that three-pointers fall. Nugent is likely to play four guards in the lineup frequently, primarily because there is little height. Two juniors, G Tim Kohlrus (13.5 ppg) and point man Todd Green (6.9 ppg), probably will have to increase their scoring after the loss of Joey Breslin (19.3 ppg).

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