DB's UNCW Teal and Blue Preview

districtballer

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The University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) is a public school in scenic Wilmington, NC. It was established in 1947 and has about 13,000 students. Its most distinguished attendee has to be current Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari, who didn't graduate but was a student at the Dub for sometime before transferring out.

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The Seahawk Basketball Tradition:

While the Seahawks were never especially successful on the court until the turn of the millennium, the Seahawks were the face of the CAA in the first half of this decade. They racked up 4 CAA Championships and subsequent NCAA tournaments in 2000, 2002, 2003, and most recently in 2006. The first 3 appearances were during the Brett Blizzard era. Brett Blizzard was one of the most prolific players in CAA history, with a silky smooth jump shot accompanied by a mother with looks that could kill.

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UNCW legend Brett Blizzard

The highlight of the Blizzard era has to be the Seahawks' 93-89 overtime win over the 4th-seededTrojans of USC as a 13 seed in the first round of the 2002 NCAA tournament. The next year the Seahawks lost a heartbreaker as Maryland won their first round matchup 75-73 on the strength of a half-court prayer at the buzzer that found the bottom of the net. Then-freshman John Goldsberry set an NCAA tournament record with perfect 8 for 8 shooting from behind the 3-point line that game. Most recently the Dub won the CAA in 2006 and were awarded with a #9 seed, but blew an 18-point second-half lead to lose in overtime 88-85 to the #8-seeded George Washington Colonials of the A-10 in the first round. The Seahawks largely dominated the Rams during this time period, although Mike Doles had something to say about that in one of the matchups, hitting 3 after 3 to lead the Rams to one of their most memorable victories of the decade.

After that the inexplicable happened. The UNCW AD basically ran Jerry Wainwright protégé Brad Brownell out of town and replaced him with Charlotte assistant Benny Moss. The program took a nosedive from there, sandwiching 7-win seasons around a 20-win campaign in which the Seahawks failed to make the postseason. The once-proud CAA power has since been relegated to rebuilding mode for the past couple of seasons.

Head-to-head, the Rams lead the all-time series with a 19-17 record.

The 2009-2010 Seahawks:

The 2009-2010 Seahawks sport a 4-7 record with Penn State of the Big10 as its best win. UNCW most recently lost a heartbreaker at the Robins Center, building an 8-point lead with 3 minutes to go in the game only to lose 66-64. The Seahawk guards could not withstand the Spiders’ full-court pressure and turned the ball over repeatedly in crunch time. Seeing as this is the function of the VCU press and style of play, this bodes well for the Rams.

The Seahawks are led by the diminutive but quick and crafty Chad Tomko. He leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per contest and dishes out a team-leading 5.1 assists per game. He is undersized and not particularly strong, but he makes up for it with speed and craftiness in the backcourt. He has range out to the NBA 3-point line but is considerably streaky. He often plays out-of-control and looks for his own shot before deferring to teammates.

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UNCW big man John Fields

Last season, the Seahawks had no inside presence to speak of and opponents pounded the ball inside to the Seahawks' detriment as they had no answer in the post. This season, the Seahawks had ECU transfer John Fields come online and he has made an impact in the frontcourt. The 6’9 Fields is averaging 13.6 points and 9.2 boards per game to go along with a CAA-leading 3.2 blocked shots per game. While Larry Sanders' resurgence in the past several games has slipped him out of the top spot, Fields is a force to be reckoned with in the CAA. He is long and athletic and really rebounds the ball very well. He is a good weak-side shot-blocker and will take the ball hard to the rack regardless of who is in the way. Freshmen Keith Rendleman (6’7) and Matt Wilson (6’11) as well as RS Freshman Will O’Huaregbe (6’8) also provide additional size and strength in the post.

Coach Benny Moss recruited a trio of JUCO guards in Ahmad Grant, Jeremy Basnight, and Trevor DeLoach. Grant has cracked the playing rotation and at 6’3 with a 7-foot wingspan, he’s a long and athletic addition to the Dub in the backcourt. He is also a very proficient 3-point shooter, nailing nearly 52% of his attempts from behind the arc. The rest of the team is similar to what we’ve seen in the past with Montez Downey, Dom Lacy, and Darryl Felder rounding out the rotation.

Tomorrow’s tilt at the Stu is a battle between two teams who play at the fastest-tempo in the CAA. VCU leads the league in possessions per game with 72, and UNCW is second at 70.7. The Dub will attack the press and try to get up and down the floor just as much as the Rams. The Dub is a proficient 3-point shooting team at 36.6% overall from behind the line. They are similar in offensive output to the Rams, averaging 73.6 points a game to the Rams’ 75.5 points per contest. However the Seahawks are far more prone to turning the ball over (17.3 per game), as evidenced by the meltdown at Richmond. The Rams will need to stay true to their identity and press the Seahawks from the tip-off to the final buzzer. If the Rams reach their stated target of turning over the Dub more than 20 times, the Rams will be in a good position to pull out the win.

DB’s Prediction:

The Rams even up the conference record with a big win over an undisciplined and overmatched UNCW squad. John Fields will get his, but Larry Sanders will prove he is the best big man in the CAA as the Rams roll to a comfortable first conference win. Rams by 14.

GO RAMS!
 
The death spiral of The Dub is the saddest basketball story in this conference in the near decade I've been here. I still don't understand how their AD has a job after the total mismanagement of this team, once the cream of the CAA crop. Driving to Wilmington used to be scary, hoping you just wouldn't get embarrassed. Now the only embarrassment you feel is on behalf of the few fans who are still left, holding on to a once proud tradition.
 
Mike Cappaccio, the UNCW AD who was responsible for Brad Brownell moving on to Wright State was subsquently fired the year after Brownell left. He is no longer with the University. However the damage he wrought still remains.

I agree, it is sad indeed to see how far the Dub has fallen.
 
But if memory serves, hasn't the rest of the administration stayed the same?
 
Pavarotti said:
But if memory serves, hasn't the rest of the administration stayed the same?

I believe that is accurate. The Dub has suffered from lack of funding and attendance has gone way down from what it used to be. In their hey-day the Seahawks averaged well over 6,000 a game. You'll be lucky to find half of that at most games at the Trask Coliseum now.
 
Thanks DB - another very thoughtful and insightful analysis.

Just goes to show you how fast a program can fall. I do indeed Wilmington can turn things around - we need for them to be strong players in the CAA.

I say we will play MUCH better than we did against ECU...

VCUBeatsduke
 
Nice job DB...I posted the link to this thread on the Seahawk board in case any UNCW fans wanted to talk up the game with us.

It should be a good one! I hear Fields is pretty good.
 
VCUBeatsduke said:
Thanks DB - another very thoughtful and insightful analysis.

Just goes to show you how fast a program can fall. I do indeed Wilmington can turn things around - we need for them to be strong players in the CAA.

I say we will play MUCH better than we did against ECU...

VCUBeatsduke

No prob VCUBeatsDuke. Agreed, a strong UNCW is good for the league. Hopefully Benny Moss is the guy to turn it around, but every year they stay out of the postseason it gets more and more difficult to recruit. The Dub's facilities are aging and new crops of high school kids won't be able to appreciate past Seahawk successes the way the way past classes of recruits would have.

I too hope that our defense and shot selection improves tomorrow from the ECU game. I still think we win comfortably but if Tomko gets hot anything can happen.
 
Benny Moss was interviewed on the UNCW athletics site about the game tomorrow and here's some of what he had to say:

On starting up the CAA schedule:

"It's an exciting time for us because we get back into conference play," said fourth-year coach Benny Moss. "As the New Year rolls around, a new season rolls around. We played a difficult non-conference schedule to help us become prepared for games like Saturday. We're looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead. We're playing a very good VCU team on its home court."

On Larry Sanders:

"Larry Sanders is as dominant a big man as there is in this league. He's always been a tremendous defender, shot blocker and presence in the paint. You have to give him credit because he's worked extremely hard the last two years to make himself a low post offensive threat. He's a more complete player than he was a year ago."

On replacing Eric Maynor:

"No one guy has replaced Eric Maynor," said Moss. "Larry Sanders has stepped up and other guys have assumed some of the little roles. Every player has done a little more, so they have great balance. Sometimes when you lose a great player, the overall team becomes better. Last year, they had a tendency to watch Eric play."

On tomorrow's game:

"I like our mindset going into this weekend," Moss added. "We know we played a very difficult non-conference schedule to put ourselves in position to win down the stretch. The key is to take care of the basketball. We have to value the basketball more and we'll come out on the positive side of some of these close games."

http://www.uncwsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=92931&SPID=11332&DB_OEM_ID=19800&ATCLID=204863913
 
I'm convinced that Benny Moss does not have the commitment to defense to lead the W back into the top tier of the CAA. Jerry/Brad's teams had good offense, and stifling defense. Benny's (edit, thanks DB) teams look like you're playing VMI. Combine that with his and the admin's inability to hold on to it's once formidable fan base, and I think it's time to spend large amounts of $ to bring someone back from the Jerry W coaching family tree.
 
Pavarotti said:
I'm convinced that Benny Moss does not have the commitment to defense to lead the W back into the top tier of the CAA. Jerry/Brad's teams had good offense, and stifling defense. Brad's teams look like you're playing VMI. Combine that with his and the admin's inability to hold on to it's once formidable fan base, and I think it's time to spend large amounts of $ to bring someone back from the Jerry W coaching family tree.

Great point, although I assume you were referring to Benny's teams looking like VMI. Benny Moss went into UNCW promising a run-and-gun, up-tempo attack. Apparently at the expense of that came the Dub's legendary commitment to defense. The UNCW teams of the Blizzard era were tough, physical defensive teams. They were almost dirty in their physicality with opposing teams. This current edition of the Seahawks is anything but. Fields has a mean streak, but everyone else is very tentative and passive on the defensive end. Chad Tomko to me epitomizes their problems in that regard. He's a gifted (albeit undersized) player on the offensive end, but he really doesn't play good defense at all. He embodies what we would call a 'playground player'. Sure he gambles and gets some steals, but his commitment to defense is shoddy at best. Tomko as the leader obviously sets an example that his teammates follow.

Is it time for them to go elsewhere? I'd give him another year. That said, I can't help but think they should go after Brownell and bring him back. Cappaccio is out now and let's face it, Wright State at best was a lateral move. Maybe not anymore thanks to the recent record of UNCW...but Brownell has gotten it done at the Dub before and he can do it again. I highly doubt he's earning much more at Wright State then he was at UNCW. He's one of the most underrated young coaches in America. If the admin wants their basketball program to get back to where it was, they'll swallow their pride, shell out the cash, and pick up the phone to call Brad.
 
districtballer said:
That said, I can't help but think they should go after Brownell and bring him back. Cappaccio is out now and let's face it, Wright State at best was a lateral move. Maybe not anymore thanks to the recent record of UNCW...but Brownell has gotten it done at the Dub before and he can do it again. I highly doubt he's earning much more at Wright State then he was at UNCW. He's one of the most underrated young coaches in America. If the admin wants their basketball program to get back to where it was, they'll swallow their pride, shell out the cash, and pick up the phone to call Brad.
that would go a long way towards getting fans back in the stands, too.
 
Not to pick nits, but Penn State is in the Big Ten.

districtballer said:
The 2009-2010 Seahawks sport a 4-7 record with Penn State of the Big East as its best win.
 
districtballer said:
Is it time for them to go elsewhere? I'd give him another year. That said, I can't help but think they should go after Brownell and bring him back. Cappaccio is out now and let's face it, Wright State at best was a lateral move. Maybe not anymore thanks to the recent record of UNCW...but Brownell has gotten it done at the Dub before and he can do it again. I highly doubt he's earning much more at Wright State then he was at UNCW. He's one of the most underrated young coaches in America. If the admin wants their basketball program to get back to where it was, they'll swallow their pride, shell out the cash, and pick up the phone to call Brad.

Thanks for the typo catch.

I don't know if he'd want to come back, doesn't he have some family connections up there? I'm sure it would get the fans to come back out, even if for one season. That being said, I remember how excited I was the day the Skins brought back Joe Gibbs (I started crying from joy, we had been so bad for so long). Five years (?) later, we still suck, because we still had lousy ownership.
 
VCULee said:
Not to pick nits, but Penn State is in the Big Ten.

districtballer said:
The 2009-2010 Seahawks sport a 4-7 record with Penn State of the Big East as its best win.

No problem, thanks for picking up on that. Edited.
 
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