Arizona's Nonconference Foes: The Bucs stop here; the islands beckon

2012-11-11T00:00:00Z Arizona's Nonconference Foes: The Bucs stop here; the islands beckon Arizona Daily Star
November 11, 2012 12:00 am

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN BUCCANEERS

• Where: North Charleston, S.C.

• Game date: Nov. 11, McKale Center

• Last year: 19-12 (11-7 Big South)

• Who left: F Kelvin Martin

• Returners/newcomers: G Saah Nimley, G Arlon Harper, F Mathiang Muo, F Paul Gombwer, G Sheldon Strickland, G Jeremy Sexton, F Cedrick Bowen, A Allie Fullah, G Malcolm Bernard.

• Overview: There's no longer a K-Mart (all-conference pick Martin) in town, but the Buccaneers may have their best team since the school was known as Baptist College in the 1980s. Nimley and Harper form one of the Big South's best backcourts and there is depth nearly everywhere. But CSU must defend better, after allowing opponents to shoot .466 from the field last season.

• Number: 15 - Straight seasons that Charleston Southern had a losing record until last season.

• Don't miss: Feb. 23: ESPN Bracket Buster game

• On the Web: csusports.com

UTEP MINERS

• Where: El Paso

• Game date: Nov. 15, McKale Center

• Last year: 15-17 (7-9 Conference USA)

• Who left: F Gabriel McCulley, G Michael Perez

• Returners/newcomers: F Julian Washburn, G Jacques Streeter, C John Bohannon, G C.J. Cooper, G McKenzie Moore, C Hooper Vint, F Cedrick Lang, F Chris Washburn Jr., G Twymond Howard, C Matt Willms, F Malcolm Moore

• Overview: Onetime UA coaching target Tim Floyd will mix in freshmen, transfers and returnees in an attempt to upgrade a disappointing cast last year. Then he'll test it with a rough nonconference schedule that includes UA, UNLV, Oregon and the Old Spice Classic. The Miners will be led by versatile forward Julian Washburn, while freshman forward Howard, a Parade All-American, is a key addition.

• Number: 11.0 - Points averaged by former Pueblo High School guard Michael Perez last season at UTEP before transferring to Nevada for his final two seasons.

• Don't miss: Dec. 17 vs UNLV, at El Paso (CBS Sports Network)

• On the Web: utepathletics.com

LONG BEACH STATE 49ERS

• Where: Long Beach, Calif.

• Game date: Nov. 19, McKale Center

• Last year: 25-9 (15-1 Big West)

• Who left: G Casper Ware, F T.J. Robinson, F Eugene Phelps, G Larry Anderson

• Returners/newcomers: F James Ennis, G Michael Caffey, G Peter Pappageorge, C Nick Shepherd, C Dan Jennings, F Tony Freeland, G Branford Jones, F Deng Deng, F Kris Gulley, G Javion Watson, C Edgar Garibay

• Overview: Coach Dan Monson is turning to four-year transfers, including former ASU guard Keala King, to help overcome the loss of four starters who won back-to-back Big West Conference regular-season titles. The versatile Ennis, who can score with three-pointers or off the drive, is expected to lead the way. There's plenty of talent but the chemistry may take time.

• Number: 3 - Players who left LBSU as the school's top career producer: Ware (assists, tied in steals), Anderson (tied in steals) and Robinson (rebounding).

• Don't miss: Dec. 8, at Ohio State (Big Ten Network)

• On the Web: longbeachstate.com

NORTHERN ARIZONA LUMBERJACKS

• Where: Flagstaff

• Game date: Nov. 28, McKale Center

• Last year: 5-24 (1-15 Big Sky)

• Who left: G James Douglas, F Durrell Norman

• Returners/newcomers: G Stallon Saldivar, F Gaellan Bewernick, F Ephraim Ekanem, G Gabe Rogers, G Michael Dunn, G Chris Heine, G Luis Flores, F Max Jacobsen, F Ben Olayinka, C Len Springs, F Blake Hamilton, G Dewayne Russell, F Jordyn Martin.

• Overview: Former UA manager and administrative aide Jack Murphy is taking over the troubled Lumberjacks this season after their rough 2011-12 following the controversial early season departure of coach Mike Adras, who was accused of creating a culture of "intimidation and fear," according to university documents. A native of Las Vegas who was an assistant under Josh Pastner at Memphis, Murphy is aiming to get the Jacks back on track by hitting a triangular recruiting base of Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix. A small improvement may be visible right away.

• Number: 10 - The number of players Murphy is aiming to use in his rotation in order to push a fast pace and take advantage of Flagstaff's high elevation by tiring opponents out.

• Don't miss: Feb. 23, ESPN Bracket Buster

• On the Web: nauathletics.com

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

• Where: Lubbock, Texas

• Game date: Dec. 1, at Lubbock

• Last year: 8-23 (1-17 Big 12)

• Who left: G Javarez Willis, C Robert Lewandowski

• Returners/newcomers: F Jordan Tolbert, G Ty Nurse, F Jaye Crockett, G Luke Adams, G Toddrick Gotcher, F Clark Lammert, C Dejan Kravic, F Kader Tapsoba, G Jamal Williams, G Trency Jackson, G Daylen Robinson, F Aaron Ross, G Josh Gray, G Dusty Hannahs.

• Overview: Former coach Billy Gillispie left Sept. 20 under allegations of player mistreatment, and in the wake of significant player and staff turnover. There's not much optimism that the Red Raiders can recover this season under interim coach Chris Walker, formerly Gillispie's top assistant. The talent is average and the chemistry could be a challenge, unless an us-against-the-world mentality emerges.

• Number: 4 - Coaches Texas Tech has had since 2008, with Bobby Knight, Pat Knight, Gillispie and now Walker.

• Don't miss: March 9, vs Texas, at Lubbock (Big 12 Network)

• On the Web: texastech.com

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI GOLDEN EAGLES

• Where: Hattiesburg, Miss.

• Game date: Dec. 4, McKale Center

• Last year: 25-9 (11-5 C-USA)

• Who left: G LaShay Page, G Darnell Dodson, G Maurice Bolden, G Angelo Johnson, F Torye Pelham.

• Returners/newcomers: G Neil Watson, G Rashard McGill, F Jonathan Mills, F Daveon Boardingham, F Norville Carey, G Cedric Jenkins, G Jerrold Brooks, F Dwayne Davis, G Deon Edwin

• Overview: Former coach Larry Eustachy is gone, having left for Colorado State after an NCAA tournament appearance, and so are all but five returnees. The good news is that the team's arguably two top players, Watson and Mills, are back. The bad news is there are new players, a new coach and a new system (complete with full-court pressure and a matchup zone) that isn't likely to jell before the Eagles arrive in Tucson.

• Number: 11.1 - Turnovers per game last season, one reason why the Golden Eagles won 25 games.

• Don't miss: Nov. 15, at Georgia (FSN)

• On the Web: southernmiss.com

CLEMSON TIGERS

• Where: Clemson, S.C.

• Game date: Dec. 8, at Clemson, S.C.

• Last year: 16-15 (8-8 ACC)

• Who left: G Tanner Smith, G Andre Young, C Catalin Baciu, F Bryan Narcisse

• Returners/newcomers: F Devin Booker, F Milton Jennings, G T.J. Sapp, F K.J. McDaniels, G Rod Hall, G Adonis Filer, G Jordan Roper, F Jaron Blossomgame, F Josh Smith, C Landry Nnoko, F Bernard Sullivan

• Overview: The Tigers are in a tough spot, having lost three starters from a team that missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. While they have two solid frontcourt players in Booker and Jennings, they have a young roster that needs a point guard and lots of quick maturity all the way around.

• Number: 60.6 - Average points Clemson allowed last season.

• Don't miss: Nov. 22 vs Gonzaga, Old Spice Classic (ESPN2)

• On the Web: clemsontigers.com

FLORIDA GATORS

• Where: Gainesville, Fla.

• Game date: Dec. 15, at McKale Center

• Last year: 26-11 (10-6 SEC)

• Who left: G Bradley Beal, G Erving Walker, C Walter Pitchford V

• Returners/newcomers: G Scottie Wilbekin, G Kenny Boynton, G Mike Rosario, F Erik Murphy, C Patric Young, G Dillon Graham, F Casey Prather, G Braxton Ogbueze, F Will Yeguete, G Michael Frazier, F DeVon Walker

• Overview: The Gators are loaded up front, especially if potential NBA lottery pick Patric Young can keep working toward his lofty expectations. But there are big holes in the backcourt, where Ogbueze and Wilbekin will try to fill Erving Walker's role at point guard. The backcourt's development will likely determine if coach Billy Donovan will reach a third straight Elite Eight.

• Number: 3.5 - Average points Florida lost by in the past two Elite Eight games, against 2011 (Butler) and 2012 (Louisville).

• Don't miss: Feb. 12, Kentucky, at Gainesville (ESPN)

• On the Web: gatorzone.com

ORAL ROBERTS GOLDEN EAGLES

• Where: Tulsa, Okla.

• Game date: Dec. 18, at McKale Center

• Last year: 27-7 (17-1 Summit)

• Who left: F Dominique Morrison, F Michael Craion, G Roderick Pearson.

• Returners/newcomers: G Warren Niles, C Damen Bell-Holter, F Steven Roundtree, G Mikey Manghum, G D.J. Jackson, G Korey Billbury, C Jorden Kaufman, F Corbin Byford, F Brandon Conley

• Overview: The Golden Eagles have enough on hand to win two different conferences in back-to-back seasons. They won the Summit League last season and are a top contender to take the Southland Conference title now. There's good depth inside but some concern on the perimeter with shooting and playmaking.

• Number: 81 - Percent of Summit League games ORU won under coach Scott Sutton since 2005-06.

• Don't miss: Nov. 28, Oklahoma, at ORU (streaming at orugoldeneagles.com)

• On the Web: orugoldeneagles.com

EAST TENNESSEE STATE BUCCANEERS

• Where: Johnson City, Tenn.

• Game date: Dec. 22, at Honolulu (Diamond Head Classic)

• Last year: 17-14 (10-8 Atlantic Sun)

• Who left: F Isiah Brown, G Adam Sollazzo, G Tommy Hubbard

• Returners/newcomers: G Sheldon Cooley, G Jarvis Jones, F Lukas Poderis, G Marcus Dubose, G Rashawn Rembert, G Mario Stramaglia, F Lester Wilson, F Hunter Harris, F Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard, F John Walton, F Yunio Barrueta, G Petey McClain

• Overview: The Bucs will try to overcome the loss of three senior starters with a backcourt led by Cooley and Dubose, but there are big questions up front. ETSU is hoping juco transfers Harris and Gadsden-Gilliard will bolster the frontcourt. The issues may still need settling by the time the Bucs head to Hawaii.

• Number: 4 - Straight ETSU postseason appearances until last season.

• Don't miss: Nov. 23 at Georgia (TBA)

• On the Web: etsubucs.com

DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC

• Other possible opponents: Miami (Fla.), Hawaii, Indiana State, Mississippi, San Diego State, San Francisco.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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