These posts never work out well, but it’s time to predict the GSC West for the 2006-07 season. A lot of good players are gone, but there are still some good, maybe even great teams within the division. I’ll do this in reverse order, but let’s start with what the GSC coaches think will be the final outcome:
- Delta State
- Christian Brothers
- Ouachita Baptist
- Henderson State
- Southern Arkansas
- Arkansas Tech
Now for my list, with predicted conference records in parentheses:
#8 – Arkansas Tech (3-11)
Terrence Whiters looks to be a good incoming guard, as a transfer from Loyola-Chicago. It’s going to be him, Denarryl Rice, and little else. I think there may be a bit more parity this season, since even the lowly teams have some solid players. Still, only two players returned from this already-bad team. I’m not expecting a lot.
#7 – Southern Arkansas (4-10)
SAU looked to be moving up before last season, with a lot of returning players, but that didn’t work out. This year looks the same…there could be a lot of returnees, but they weren’t very good in the first place. SAU should have some decent big men, but they’re going to have a lot of trouble with the more polished GSC guards. Virtually every GSC contender will overmatch them on the outside, but perhaps they’ll hang close enough to pull out a few wins. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, which in this case is seventh place.
#6 – Ouachita Baptist (5-9)
There will almost certainly be several solid player on this team, but that’s been the case at OBU for several years now. Still there appear to be no stars, nor are there even several above-average players. Daniel Munday doesn’t look like a scoring leader type, and the rest of the players just aren’t quite up to par. I think they’ll be the odd team out, assuming the GSC still sends 5 teams from each division to the conference tournament.
#5 – Henderson State (7-7)
Make no mistake about it, there are some good players on this team. Their recent problem has always been team unity, putting together all the talent they place on the court. This year will be no different. There are some good players with checkered pasts, and as always, they could win the division. I’m just not optimistic, with yet another coaching change and a host of new players. Can a school really keep up their success by rebuilding like this? I think they will struggle at times and throw in a few surprising wins, just enough to make life difficult for the East’s #4 seed in the conference tournament.
#4 – Delta State (8-6)
This was a tough pick, but a team can only take so many losses and remain a great team. Turmaine Rice and Johnny Hodge will have to be the scorers, but I don’t see this team as being physically dominating like last year’s squad. They’re a solid team, for sure, and they’ll get better and better. I just don’t think this is their year (not again, at least).
#3 – Arkansas-Monticello (9-5)
The Boll Weevils lost a lot of talent and depth on the inside, although their guards might be the league’s best. J.B. Williams and Nate Newell will cause a lot of headaches, but who’s going to keep up the good rebounding? UAM’s returnees will need to improve their inside play, but they should be solid enough overall to finish third in this sort-of down year for the division.
#2 – Harding (10-4)
Honestly, this isn’t the best-looking Bisons team I’ve seen in the past few years. Matt Hall is the conference’s best player, but is that enough to win the division? There appears to be enough returning talent around him to assure the Bisons a spot in the conference tournament and maybe even a bye, but I think the lack of a good big man and a solid point guard will limit the Bisons’ chances once they reach the postseason. #2 seems high to me right now, but that’s my best guess.
#1 – Christian Brothers (10-4)
Along with Harding, Christian Brothers looks like the only GSC West team due for an improvement in 06-07. I think theirs will be enough to carry the division. Kevin Weybright, like Hall, will be at the top of the individual PER standings at the end of the season. Nick Kohs is already a great center, and he’s just a sophomore. Throw in 3-4 solid returnees besides them and at least two good recruits (Bill Brandenburg on the inside and D-I transfer Reggie Payton at guard) to set the Bucs up for a GSC West win. I think they’re deeper than Harding, and they have a similar top-shelf player. CBU is well coached and is a program potentially on the rise nationally. No other GSC West team can say that, at least not this year. CBU are the winners by default.
It’s almost impossibly difficult to predict success at this level with little or no scouting of the players. The non-conference schedule will probably sort some things out, and I may revisit these predictions once they’ve blown up in my face. Now, please feel free to ridicule me, especially for not picking Harding first when the coaches as a whole actually did.