Official USA South Conference Thread Topic

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THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 58 wrap

For only the third time in school history, and for the first time in 21 years, the Shenandoah Hornets (18-11, 11-5) got the phone call to be part of the Big Dance! Sources widely speculate that the Hornets were the very last at-large team selected into the field of 64, an honor that just as easily could have gone to fellow USA South rivals LaGrange and Averett. As with the school's two previous championship tournament appearances, it was a one-and-done affair as the Hornets went down to No. 6 Drew by a 60-50 final count. Still, not bad considering the school's athletic department was already printing PIT first-round tickets when the phone call from the selection committee came.

Matthew Trapp was named an all-conference honorable mention selection after averaging 7.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.7 apg from his shooting guard position. Trapp and  teammate James Rutz close out their Hornet careers among the top 10 FT shooters all-time in school history (noteworthy, but given Shenandoah's half-century of ineptness at the stripe, not mind-blowing). Charles Fisk finishes as a top-10 performer on the school's FG% chart. After averaging 8.6 ppg as a senior, Fisk may not have grown into the standout some forecast for him as a freshman recruit, but he definitely formed a solid part of this year's tournament team after suffering through junior-season doldrums. It should also be noted, for posterity's sake, that Rutz, despite never having a durability rating of better than 2, played in every game throughout four years of his Shenandoah career without suffering an injury.

Now the focus and speculation move to next season. The Hornets graduate 40 percent of their scoring and 38 percent of their rebounding this spring. The team will look to fill four scholarships in the off-season, two of which will likely target guards. The team will return scoring leader James Carrick (9 ppg) next year. The coaching staff has stopped trying to figure out why Carrick is capable of scoring and has progressed to the acceptance stage in their 10-step program. The question is, will Carrick be able to produce without players like Trapp and Fisk pulling defenders' focus off of him? The Hornets also return starters Christopher Asay and Charles Sullivan down low, but neither showed strong scoring ability. In fact, the joke around Winchester was that they started by virtue of being the least-worst options at their positions this year. Asay was a highly-touted recruit, but so far has been more hype than hoop in Winchester. He'll have one season remaining to prove he deserved the accolades heaped upon him prior to his freshman year. 

In one final note from Season 58, shortly after the team's national tournament loss, Coach Red Nu, whose contract was extended after the season, revealed that senior Paul Kwak will undergo surgery for an ongoing medical issue. Fans speculated something had to be wrong when Kwak's 49 percent shooting tumbled to 27.5 percent as a senior and his scoring average crashed from 6.8 ppg to a career-worst 4.0 ppg. 

"We didn't want to disclose it while he was still playing, but now that his career is finished we can announce that Paul will be undergoing surgery this next week," Nu said in a post-tournament press conference. "He's scheduled for an emergency procedure with a proctologist to have his head removed from his ***. It's a condition he suffered from this year and clearly it affected his performance. We wish him a speedy recovery and ask Hornet Nation to keep him in their prayers."
7/2/2011 1:04 PM
Another exciting season is in the books as the USA South placed three teams in the national championship tournament and three more in the PIT. Greensboro finished as the national runner-up, causing one ODAC beat writer to publicly speculate if narcotico had lost his edge and was slipping in old age. LaGrange and Averett closed out the bracket in the PIT, marking the second season the PIT championship game has been an all-USA South affair. Averett won the game and hoisted the golden basketball trophy with the numeral '65' emblazoned on its side skyward.

Turning focus to Season 59, here are the returning conference leaders in various stat categories: 

Scoring -- 1. Will Simmons, Christopher Newport, 15.0 ppg; 2. (tie) Jim Reid, Oglethorpe, and Dennis Delaughter, Averett, 12.7; 4. Anthony Vizcarrondo, Christopher Newport, 12.0; 5. Howard Low, North Carolina Wesleyan, 10.6.

Rebounding -- 1. Anthony Vizcarrondo, Christopher Newport, 8.7 rpg; 2. Charles Falkenstein, Oglethorpe, 8.1; 3. (tie) Mark Gainer, Greensboro,  Howard Low, North Carolina Wesleyan, and Darrell Laird, Averett, 7.3.

Assists -- 1. Al Boyce, Chowan, 5.3 apg; 2. Ronnie Giordano, Greensboro, 4.8, 3. Eric Foster, Christopher Newport, 4.1; 4. John Flagg, Methodist, 3.9; 5. Steve Myers, Greensboro, 3.8.

Steals -- 1. John Flagg, Methodist, 2.3 spg; 2. Ralph Brewton, Ferrum, 1.9; 3. Donald Dorris, Palm Beach Atlantic, 1.7; 4. Jim Reid, Oglethorpe, 1.5; 5. Jason Carrick, Shenandoah, 1. 4.

Interesting side note: The five returning steals leaders for Season 59 were also the top five steals leaders in the conference in Season 58. Looks like a season of pressure defenses on the horizon in the USA South.

One last stat -- here's the percentage of scoring and rebounding each team in the conference will lose due to graduation (does not include walk ons leaving that may have contributed or players who have had scholarships revoked by their coach).

East Division     % scoring lost     % rebounding lost
Greensboro              53.2                         32.7
Chowan                    68.1                         51.0
Averett                    55.3                         38.0
Methodist               55.2                         55.3
Christopher Newport     16/4                    3.6
Ferrum did not have a senior on its roster in Season 58

West Division
LaGrange               33.4                         39.6
Shenandoah          39.8                         38.0
Palm Beach Atlantic     38.3                   32.2
N. Carolina Wesleyan     27.3               28.5
Piedmont                    5.5                         19.0
Oglethorpe did not have a senior on its roster in Season 58
7/5/2011 1:29 PM
THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 59 pre-season

Overall, I'm pleased with how this recruiting season went, although I would have liked to sign a fourth player and avoid grabbing a walk-on. I tweaked my recruiting approach slightly and wound up with probably my most efficient recruiting season ever. Just over 87 percent of my budget was spent directly on the guys I signed (includes money spent on FSS scouts of the states they were from).

The jewel of this year's class is Wisconsin native Anthony Rummel whom the Hornets only got a commitment from after a spirited battle with Wisconsin, Superior (100 miles/C prestige vs. 700 miles/C+). Much will be expected of Rummel simply due to the expenditure it took to secure his letter of intent, but with eight high-potential categories (including at least 4 high-high's) and no low's, Rummel certainly has the skill set to live up to expectations. With a 3.4 GPA and an 80 WE, he should grow in a hurry. He's also a high-potential FT shooter, which is good since he laid bricks (58.8%) in high school. Although listed as a PF, I foresee Rummel seeing significant time at SF in his college career.

We lost a scrappy shooting guard in Trapp to graduation, so we recruited Alexander Peterson to try and fill the void. Peterson should finish as a 590s player, possibly hitting the low 600s if his 28 WE grows quickly his freshman year, when he'll likely see 13-15 mpg. Peterson should grow into a 60/60 Ath/Spd SG with a 55+ Def.  by graduation. Both his BH and Per are high-high potential, so he should be able to provide a bit more outside pop than Trapp did, addressing a secondary team need for more outside shooting.

Last, we have Donald Brown a PG also sought after locally by Ferrum. After the unexpected success of Carrick, who will be a junior this season, the Hornets dip back into the well for what appears to be a similar-type player. Brown, on paper, should be an upgrade over Carrick in the sense that his speed will be at least low-80s by the time he graduates and he'll carry better Def, BH and Pass numbers through his career. He'll only get to about a 560 overall, but his low categories are in periphery attributes that don't worry me.

One last bonus from this class is the fact that all ran motion/press sets in high school, so all three should come in C-/C- or better on IQ's. That will help, particularly in the non-conference part of the year, to get all the kids more playing time.

I would have liked to grab one pure post-type player to round out the class, but that want was easily set aside to free up battle cash for Rummel. I probably could have signed someone functional late-cycle with my remaining cash, but when Averett passed on eventual Washington and Lee signee John Barrett, I threw what I had left at him hoping that, combined with two early eval visits, it might be enough for a steal of a player with several high-potential categories. It wasn't.
7/13/2011 4:34 PM
nice job....we'll see how the grow.....I don't really like my guys...but im stocked in the post for the next coupla a years...and we'll see how my Puerto Rican big man turns out as I didn't scout him at all......
7/14/2011 10:09 PM
THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 59 wrap

After dancing a year ago, the Shenandoah basketball season ended in the conference semifinals with no post-season invitation and a 13-15 overall record. While not wholly unexpected, the step backwards proved to be insanely frustrating. There are Jekyll and Hyde teams. And then there was THIS team. Wild swings in outcomes in series against teams like Oglethorpe (lost by 25, won by 16), Palm Beach Atlantic (won by 5 in OT, lost by 27) and Methodist (lost by 28, won by 11) demonstrate what I had to deal with this year.

If there was a consistency to our inconsistency, it was that we generally sucked on the road and weren't a whole lot better in games that could be considered close in the final five minutes. Some improvement in the latter category was evident by season's end, but a five-game skid late in conference play sealed our fate as this team never got above .500 all season. The Hornets won four of their last five to grab the No. 2 slot in a tight divisional race and perhaps provide some momentum for next year, though.

The Hornets were shut out of the postseason awards. Donald Brown is probably the only one that can realistically complain. Averaging 7.4 ppg and 1.6 apg, Brown made a solid case for freshman of the year honors, but ultimately fell short of earning that award.

Jason Carrick saw his scoring average drop from 9 ppg to 6.6 ppg as a junior. Clearly he suffered from not having as strong a supporting cast this season. Christopher Rowsey's 8.8 ppg was tops on the team, but he never opened up in games like I had hoped and the team made just five more three-point buckets this season than they had a year prior. The Hornets definitely lacked a consistent No. 2 threat in the scoring department. Highly touted recruit Christopher Asay finished with a 647 rating, but could only provide a pedestrian 6.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg. His name will linger as synonymous for "unfulfilled potential" in Shenandoah lore until a more worthy bust comes along.

The Hornets have three scholarships for next season and the returning crew looks solid on paper. Carrick is back as a 600+ rated senior. Rowsey will be close to that level when Season 60 play begins. Gallo and Curtis provide plenty of experience at the SF and C slots, respectively, although both will have to step up their output. The only question mark is likely at PF, where Sullivan, Massey and Rummel will compete for the start. The Hornets may even look to add a JUCO transfer to bolster the position in anticipation of a postseason run and what Coach Nu is already referring to as his strongest Shenandoah team to date.
8/3/2011 3:16 PM
My apologies guys for not getting the usual "leading returners" list compiled for Season 60. I'll try to avoid missing out on it again from here forward. Anyway...

THE HORNETS' NEST, Season 60 preview

For the same reason the returning stat leaders went unfiled, this recruiting season was also an interesting one. I had made plans to be near solid internet while on my first "real" vacation in 3+ years. Unfortunately, the motel I was using as my HQ for that trek chose this past week to experience major technical difficulties. The result was 30 hours of an open recruiting window elapsing before I was able to get online to even send out messages to prospective recruits. It was another 12 or 15 hours after that before I could check on their responses. In short, it wasn't much fun. 

Despite the technical difficulties, this has the potential to be a good class. It also has the potential to be a complete write-off year. We'll see which it turns into shortly.

The key for the Season 60 class will be whether or not ineligible Daniel Land decides to show up on campus or not this fall. If he does, the Hornets are in possession of a post player that will grow to the 615-625ish range minimum with a mid 90s stamina by graduation. He won't be a Windex-type glass cleaning rebounder, but his defense and low post game will both develop nicely and with only one "low" potential every number on the board will get a useful upward nudge throughout his career. 

Another potential 600+ out of this class is small forward Chad Harris. Harris won't have the stamina I'd like to see from a player in the press and doesn't have much in the way of improvement athletically, but his low post and perimeter games both have the opportunity to grow big time. His defense, ball handling and passing are all high-potential as well, but he signed the letter of intent before I could get a full read on low-high vs. high-high there. In an ideal world, Mr. Harris will understand that he needs a year of redshirt time to fully develop his offensive game to a useful college level and that he likely won't see a lot of court time on this year's experience-laden squad. Surely with a 3.3 GPA he'll be able to see that, right? 

The only real dog I feel like I was laden with on this year's class because of the late start was James Swanson.  This probably means he's a future All-American since we know how my track record of forecasting talent goes. Listed as a PG in high school, Swanson will play SG in college because he lacks the court vision to pass the ball well. He has some lows in categories one would expect for a guard, but hopefully the perimeter number will soar and he'll be able to chuck it up nicely from the arc. Seven FSS states and this was the best i could find when playing vulture and picking over carrion after signings started...a D2 "backup" message from ANYONE I tried contacting at this position would have been nice. At worst, I have a 4-year career backup. Obviously this is a position I'll recruit hard next season to try and cover this potential weakness in 2-3 years time. 

Overall, with the addition of this class, I'll be severely disappointed if Shenandoah isn't playing postseason ball. The schedule should make for an RPI of <50...we'll see what happens on the hardwood in Winchester this year. 
8/14/2011 10:41 PM
The Stormy Petrel Insider - Season 60 preview

The Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels have a new coach for season 60, Smith and Iba veteran FW_Kekionga was introduced last week and already made waves recruiting.  Here's a look at his first class.

PG Paul Carroll - 471ov - Carroll is a speedy PG with high potential in BH, Passing, Speed, Perimeter, and Defense, exactly what you need in a PG.  He is definitely the star of the class, and should easily top 600 points by his junior year. 
SG Nathan Mabie - 464ov - Mabie was recruited to be a workhorse for the Petrels press defense, with high potentials in both ATH and SPD.  His monster work ethic will also bring his ball handling and passing up to speed pretty quickly, and within a few seasons Mabie could be a defensive terror in the USASC.  But he will probably need a season learning the ropes before he becomes a regular addition to the rotation.
SG Justin Carter - 453ov - Carter's giant work ethic and high/high potential in SPD, REB, LP, PER, and Passing make him potential beast for a pressing team, and also effective in the Petrels flex offense.  Big things are expected of him by his junior year, and he should fit the SF slot in the lineup quite well.
C Steven Walker - 431ov - Walker isn't the best athlete on the floor by a longshot, but brings a highly polished low post game immediately to the Stormy Petrel Bench.  His REB, LP, and SB ratings should all reach the 90's, and his defense will get to where it is respectable in a few seasons.  He should be a valuable role player to give the starters a breath.
C Greg Kiser - 440ov - Kiser is a highly athletic C who has high potential in both rebounding and defense, and will be a perfect fit for the Oglethorpe scheme.  His other ratings won't be the best but his core skills should be enough to compensate for that.

Overall I am pretty pleased with the class I recruited, esp. since I was coming into a C prestige school in a highly populated area with quality coaches.  We lost out on Richard Knarr, who will be a very nice PG, but Carroll should be just as good by the end, and the potential/work ethic combinations of Mabie and Carter will make them very dangerous players by their junior years.  With Kiser also being a quality recruit for DIII, and Walker having good enough skills to contribute, this class will be very dangerous, and should complement the returning players at Oglethorpe quite well. In fact all 5 players have the potential to top 600 points, with the three guards having the potential to near or surpass 700 points.  It will take another year or two to get this team how I want it, but this is a very good start.

Update: This class was ranked #14 overall by CI.

8/16/2011 8:19 AM (edited)
Nice looking class FW. Welcome to the league and the division!
8/15/2011 3:06 PM
THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 60 Wrap

Disappointment descended on Winchester as a season of promise wrapped up with only a 14-14 mark on the board. I guess this is karma leveling the playing field for a few years back when a team I thought would get smoked somehow pulled off an 8-8 conference mark. 

The story of this season was the five-game absence of sophomore Donald Brown. Brown, a refreshing surprise, severely injured a calf muscle midway through the conference campaign. What followed was a five-game skid as Shenandoah failed to win with Brown on the shelf. While not a regular starter, Brown's 8.9 points per game was third on the team. He also dished out 2.3 assists per game and was a team-leader with 1.7 steals per game. Without him, the Hornets just didn't have the versatility needed to match with other USA South teams. 

While Brown's absence was a big part of the Hornets' failure to advance to the post-season, it wasn't the whole story. This year's team suffered from a lack of anything remotely resembling a power forward. I tried three different players in the position. None produced. Charles Sullivan got the nod finally due to his superior IQ's. He produced just 4.4 ppg, the worst average of his four years on campus. In fact, Sullivan did nothing but go downhill since averaging 7.2 points as a freshman. Combined with the backward step George Gallo took at small forward, the Hornets simply had too little production at too many positions. 

On the positive side, Christopher Rowsey finally developed into the gunslinger I thought he could. Averaging 12 ppg and connecting on 96 3s this season, I expected Rowsey would garner some sort of post-season recognition, but surprisingly he didn't even garner honorable mention notice. Such is life in the land of the guard-heavy USA South. Also cut out of post-season recognition was Jason Carrick, who bounced back from a sub-par junior season to finish with 10.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg as a senior. Carrick finishes his Hornet career ninth all-time on the school's steals chart and fifth all-time in free throw shooting. While his success on the hardwood wasn't always understood, Carrick's presence will be missed next season. Charles Curtis (8.2 ppg) also graduates this year as the No. 10 career FG% in school history. 

Sadly, based on the final record, the Hornets will probably be stuck on a C prestige for another season and won't be in nearly as good of shape to fill five scholarships as I'd hoped they would be .At a 553, this was my best-rated Division 3 team ever. I really hadn't even considered they wouldn't at least reach the PIT. Oh well, back to the drawing board to search for answers and solutions. 
9/8/2011 12:48 AM (edited)
Season 61 Returning leaders

1. Arthur McRorie, LaGrange, 16.6 ppg
2. John Tabarez, Ferrum, 14.9 ppg
3. Eric Foster, Christopher Newport, 14.9 ppg
4. James Blumer, Greensboro, 14.5 ppg
5. Howard McDonough, Chowan, 13.3 ppg

1. Robert Royals, Greensboro, 8.3 rpg
2. John Carnes, North Carolina Wesleyan, 8.1 rpg
3. Gary Jamison, Greensboro, 8.1 rpg
4. Willy Adams, LaGrange, 7.0 rpg
5. Gerge Gamache, Christopher Newport, 6.8 rpg

1. Eric Foster, Christopher Newport, 4.2 apg
2. Gary Mitchell, Averett, 4.1 apg
3. Josh Brown, LaGrange, 3.7 apg
4. Gregory Corle, Methodist, 3.0 apg
5. Thomas Haack, Palm Beach Atlantic, 3.0 apg

1. Donald Brown, Shenandoah, 1.7 spg
2. Gregory Corle, Methodist, 1.3 spg
3. Thomas Haack, Palm Beach Atlantic, 1.3 spg
4. Arthur McRorie, LaGrange, 1.2 spg
5. Eric Foster, Christopher Newport, 1.2 spg
9/9/2011 12:18 PM
THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 61 preview

Every time I think I'm getting a foothold in this league, I find out how wrong I am. Once again, I thought I'd secured a solid recruiting class, only to look at what the rest of the league is bringing in and wondering if it's good enough. 

In any event, expectations aren't all that high in Winchester this season. After not living up to billing in Season 60 and with five new freshmen added to the roster, this is one of those rebuilding type years that runs the risk of being downright brutal in the stacked USA South. Before looking at the year ahead, let's meet the new faces: 

-- Dennis Frisch from Hiram, Ga. I'll curse his career right now by calling him the standout of the Season 61 recruiting class. His BH is average. SB, LP and DUR are all Low. Everything else is high. He's listed as a SG by position, and I'm sure he'll see some time there, but with a rebounding number that could be well into the 40s by graduation, he'll ultimately spend time in the 3 slot as well. 

-- Charles Davis, out of Montrose, Colo., should provide some speed at the guard slots. His BH and PASS numbers won't reach the levels needed to be a standout PG (his listed position) at the college ranks, but the high-potential PER could make him a good SG. By graduation, he could be 55/85 ATH/SPD with a DEF of 60+, which I'm hoping will make him a pain in the butt as a defender. 

--Mark Nusbaum comes from Gatewood High School in Eatonton, Ga. Yes, I shamelessly invaded the homeland of the one Sim AI coached school in our league to grab a pair of Georgia boys. He's another player listed as a PG that easily rolls to SG. Part of my strategy this time around was looking for players that fit at multiple positions in the lineup as it seems my best success in this conference has been with teams that had multiple "flex" sorts of players that could swing between positions. Nusbaum will lack the speed of a USA South PG, which could mean he spends his Hornet career in perpetual foul trouble. He'll have good PER and BH numbers by graduation and an ATH in the 40s. If I had to predict the future, I'd say Nusbaum is probably most likely to provide bench depth with the occasional spot start. 

--David Simmons out of Phoenix High School in Roseburg, Ore. brings a Shaq-like FT percentage of 55 percent to the program, but we think we can turn that around over four years and reveal his true high potential at the stripe. Of course, that's what they said about Shaq too... The REB and LP are, of course, high potential, but the SB is stuck pretty much where you see it. I'm hoping for a 65/50 ATH/SPD split at graduation with a 60ish defense. 

--Donald Tassone from Summers County HS in Hinton, W. Va., was the boy next door that we thought we'd grab on the fairly cheap. Obviously, the fact that I was able to get him from nearby, with all the other higher prestige USA South and ODAC schools floating around, means he has some obvious deficiencies that let him slip through the cracks. In Donald's case, it's that his stamina is destined to suck for life. I can live with that...not everyone has to be a 20-25 mpg starter. When he does hit the floor, he'll develop into a 48/50+ Ath/Spd with REB and LP's in the 70s and the bonus of being able to handle the ball and pass it somewhat. 

Overall, I feel it's a solid class, although it might be lacking in that high-end superstar potential. In addition to its flexibility, the class is blessed with some solid work ethics across the board that should help foster the high-category developments. Considering it came from a C prestige, that's probably the best I can ask for. 

As for the season, we return one 600+ rated player in Rummel, then fall off to a 548 in Massey and a 535 in Land. From this, I'd expect the strength of the team to be in the low post most likely, but we lack a true "solid" center type. We're also thin at guard, so some of these youngsters will have to produce minutes this year. If it sounds like I'm writing my own obituary for the season here, there could be a reason for that. I'll take hitting double digits in the win column and be happy. There are brighter days ahead. 

Edit: I may have been unduly harsh on myself. As I examine things today, I notice that this team begins the season as the No. 24 team in Division III in terms of speed and at No. 13 overall in ball handling. That combination should at least lead to an epic number of free throws.

9/19/2011 2:41 PM (edited)
THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 61 wrap

I said at the beginning of the season that I'd take double-digits in the win column and be happy. Shenandoah finished 12-16 this season and third in its division of the USA South. I am, therefore, extremely happy. Heck, we even managed to improve our conference record by one victory this season. 

As usual, the Hornets did not fare particularly well in the post-season awards category, but Anthony Rummel's 7.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg was enough to get him recognized as an all-conference honorable mention selection. Junior Donald Brown led the squad with 8.3 points per game as all eleven of the guys in uniform averaged at least 4.1 points per contest. 

Like I said though, this season wasn't about wins and losses, it was about positioning for next season. With five of the 11 guys in the rotation being freshmen and with no seniors on the roster, I just wanted to get folks some experience and try to figure out how everyone will fit in together next season, when the stakes will be a tad higher night after night. In that case, it was mission accomplished -- Shenandoah improved 54 points as a team this season, growing to a 537 overall ranking. Every player gained at least 41 points. Combined with some high work ethics that should bump kids upward during the off-season, we could easily be starting Season 62 with a team rating in the 540s (and possibly a team ball handling rating of 50+) and that will be very, very nice. Three players will begin Season 62 with ratings of 600+. Nothing short of dancing is going to make the fans happy next year. 

We'll also have a record watch going next season. Brown needs just 16 steals to break into the school's top 15 in that stat. With 63 steals next year, he'll break the school record. Considering that he got 50 as a junior, it's not a stretch at all to see him finishing as No. 1. (whether he stays there long is an entirely different matter -- teammate Charles Davis had 41 steals this season as a true freshman.)

Not much else to say about this season. I might do some token looks during recruiting to see if there's a guy that's heavy green on the potentials and bring him on board. I'm guessing, however, that what you see on the roster is what you get. If that's the case, the Season 62 preview will be awfully short. 
10/12/2011 4:26 PM (edited)
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