Hoops HD Special Report Podcast: North Carolina is Off the Hook!!

Kyle and David discuss the NCAA Committee on Infraction’s ruling in the North Carolina case, which came out this past Friday.  They first explain the technicalities of what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.  They then debate over whether or not the ruling was right and how bad this makes the NCAA look.  They also spend a few minutes discussing the Kansas vs Missouri exhibition game that is taking place to raise money for hurricane relief, as well as the ongoing fallout from the FBI’s investigation and the formation of the new basketball commission.

 

This podcast is Audio Only.  No video.  Our apologies to our TV lovers.

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Season Preview: HoopsHD interviews Dayton F Josh Cunningham

CLICK HERE for all of Jon’s interviews, and the rest of our extensive and continuous preseason coverage

Dayton has a fascinating roster this year: they have Jon Gruden’s nephew Joey, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brother Kostas, and a new head coach in Anthony Grant.  Another new wrinkle is a healthy Josh Cunningham in the lineup: the reason this is “new” is because he only played 11 games last year due to a left ankle injury and none the year before as he had to sit out after transferring from Bradley.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Josh about replacing each of his top-3 scorers and how his health is doing.

You started your college career at Bradley, where you were 2nd in the MVC with 7.5 RPG as a freshman: how were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? I knew that was 1 of the best things I had going for me so I just continued to work on that.

Why did you decide to transfer, and what made you choose the Flyers? My head coach and his staff got fired so it no longer felt like the right fit for me. I talked to my family and Dayton seemed like the only school that was serious about me coming in.

You have a new coach this year in Coach Anthony Grant: how has the transition been going over the past several months? It is going great. I did not know what to expect at 1st but as I learn more about him I think it will be a great thing.

You were selected as a co-captain prior to last year despite never having played a single game for the Flyers: what is the key to being a good leader? You need to be able to be a good teammate, get out there every day, and be a good person.

You missed more than 3 months last season due to a torn left ankle ligament: how bad was the injury, and how healthy are you at the moment? I could not even walk on it after it happened but now I feel 100%.

In the 2017 NCAA tourney you scored 2 PTS in a 6-PT loss to Wichita State: what did you learn from that game that will help you this year? We have to come out and play hard from the start. We need to play good defense and have fun out there.

Last year you lead the team with 79.2 FT%: what is your secret for making FTs? Just practicing every single day and stepping up to the line believing that you will make every single 1.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against Auburn/Mississippi State/St. Mary’s: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? We have to go out and play every game the same.

You lost each of your top-3 scorers from last season (Charles Cooke//Kendall Pollard/Scoochie Smith): how will you try to replace all of that offense? We will play within Coach Grant’s system and knock down our shots when we are open.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? We want to win the A-10 title, go to the NCAA tourney, and advance as far as possible. I want to enjoy the game and give it my all.

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Conference Preview: SEC

Click HERE for all of Jon Teitel’s season preview interviews and Chad Sherwood’s conference previews

SEC

It has been ten years since the SEC placed more than five teams in the NCAA Tournament, and four times during that stretch the conference only had three teams receive bids.  The conference has made a commitment over the past few years to upgrading its basketball, and the results are starting to show.  Last season, five teams made to field with three of them advancing to the Elite Eight and South Carolina making an amazing Cinderella run to the Final Four.  This year, the SEC looks even stronger and six or more bids is very realistic.

Leading the way, once again, will likely be Kentucky, though the Wildcats’ roster is so lacking in veteran leadership (moreso than normal) that it will be fascinating to see how John Calipari gets his kids to play together and learn how to win as a team.  Should they falter, Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia all have rosters good enough to compete for the league crown.  Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Missouri, and Mississippi State all have legitimate NCAA aspirations, but it would not be a complete shock to see any team (other than maybe LSU) in the bubble picture this March.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Kentucky – The top seven players from last season are gone.  The top returning scorer averaged less than 5 points per game.  There are almost 350 programs in the nation that would have data like that mean a long rebuilding year with next to no postseason aspirations.  Luckily for Wildcats fans, their team is one of a very, very small group (read: Kentucky, Duke and no one else) that can actually contend for the Final Four in that type of case.  Freshmen Kevin Knox, P.J. Washington, Nick Richards and Jarred Vanderbilt (assuming a healthy return from foot surgery in a couple months) will join sophomore returnees Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wayne Gabriel in the frontcourt, while Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jermari Baker could form one of the nation’s most dangerous backcourts.  In other words, the talent in UK’s cup is practically boiling over, and if John Calipari can get them to play together as a team despite only the tiniest amount of experience, this squad could once again be looking at 30+ wins and a deep NCAA Tournament run.
  2. Texas A&M – This has a chance to be a very special season for the Aggies, as it is hard to find any significant holes in the team.  In the backcourt, Admon Gilder  is joined by several talented freshmen, including Jay Jay Chandler, T.J. Starks and J.J. Caldwell, along with Marquette transfer Duane Wilson.  The frontcourt is even stronger, led by D.J. Hogg, Tyler Davis and Robert Williams.  If Kentucky’s youth proves to be an issue, the Aggies could easily find themselves atop the SEC at the end of the day.
  3. Florida – The Gators made a run to the Elite Eight last season, and did so without center John Egbunu, who tore his ACL in February.  Egbunu should be close to 100% by the time conference play starts, as will freshman forward Isaiah Stokes (another ACL tear victim).  Once the frontcourt is healthy, this team will be very dangerous, especially with KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza in the backcourt joined by Rice transfer Egor Koulechov who averaged 18.2 point and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Owls last season.  Also, keep an eye on Virginia Tech transfer Jalen Hudson on the wing, as he could be yet another big scorer for Mike White’s team.
  4. Georgia – 19-15 overall and 9-9 in SEC play was a major disappointment for the Georgia Bulldogs last season.  With everyone of note other than J.J. Frazier back, and the addition of freshman standout Rayshaun Hammonds to the frontcourt, there are no excuses left for this team if they fail to make the Big Dance again.  Hammonds will be joining Yante Maten up front, who flirted with the NBA before deciding to bring his 18+ points and almost 7 boards per game back to Athens.  The key may be whether or not Juwan Parker can stay healthy and up his production — if he does, this team may even be able to contend for the league crown.
  5. Alabama – Head coach Avery Johnson is in his third season in Tuscaloosa, and this should be the year he breaks through and gets the Tide into the Big Dance.  He has a young, talented roster led by sophomores Braxton Key and Ohio State transfer Daniel Giddens in the frontcourt, plus freshmen Collin Sexton and John Petty joining sophomore Dazon Ingram and senior Riley Norris in the backcourt.  This team has the depth and talent to put Alabama in the NCAAs for the first time since 2006.
  6. Arkansas – Despite losing a pair of double-digit scorers from last year’s team, the Razorbacks should be right back in the hunt for a Dance Ticket as they feature a great combination of four seniors, led by guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, plus a strong group of freshmen newcomers, led by forwards Darious Hall and Daniel Gafford.  There should be enough depth here to continue to run the high-octane “Fastest 40” attack that makes this team so dangerous to play and so much fun to watch.
  7. Auburn – The Tigers got a ton of experience for freshmen Mustapha Heron, Jared Harper, Daniel Purifoy and Austin Wiley last year.  This season, they are all sophomores, and a few more pieces are being added including Desean Murray, a transfer from Presbyterian who led the Big South in scoring two years ago.  There appear to be the pieces here to put Bruce Pearl’s team in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003; however, assistant coach Chuck Person was indicted as part of the recent FBI investigation, and the team will need to find a way to keep the off-court issues from affecting the on-court play.
  8. Missouri – Mizzou went 8-24 last season, Kim Anderson’s last as head coach.  Cuonzo Martin is on the bench now, and the roster looks a lot different.  Leading the way is arguably the best freshman in the nation, Michael Porter, Jr.  Freshmen Jeremiah Tilmon, Blake Harris and Jontay Porter (Michael’s brother) could all be factors as well, along with Canisius graduate transfer Kassius Robertson.  The problem is going to be getting all these new players to blend with the new head coach and a handful of returnees.  Things will be a lot more exciting in Columbia than they have been for a few years, but it may be premature to declare this an NCAA Tournament caliber team.
  9. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs will be strong in the backcourt, led by star Quinndary Weatherspoon (who averaged over 16 points per game last year despite playing most of the season with a wrist injury), his freshman point guard brother Nick, and sophomore Lamar Peters.  The problems are down low, where they struggled defensively last season and need to get tougher if they want to have a shot at a dance ticket.
  10. South Carolina – The majority of the scoring and rebounding from last season’s Final our team are gone, including all-everything Sindarius Thornwell.  Having Chris Silva back will help some, as should the addition of Delaware transfer Kory Holden.  However, this is nowhere near last season’s magical roster, and just making the NCAA Tournament would be a major accomplishment.
  11. Vanderbilt – The Commodores suffered heartbreak in the NCAA Tournament last season when Matthew Fisher-Davis mistakenly thought his team was trailing and committed a foul, giving Northwestern a pair of what proved to be game-winning free throws.  Fisher-Davis will be looked upon to redeem himself and try to lead his team to another postseason berth, but that may prove difficult without any real replacement for star center Luke Kornet.
  12. Ole Miss – The Rebels will get a ton of offense out of their backcourt again this season, led by Deandre Burnett, Terence Davis and Memphis transfer Markel Crawford.  The frontcourt may be a problem, however, with no true heir-apparent to the departed Sebastian Saiz available.
  13. Tennessee – Rick Barnes’ team is undersized for the SEC, but that does not mean they will not be competitive.  A repeat of last year’s 8 conference wins may not happen, but it will only be because the rest of the league got better.  Two players to keep an eye on this year will be sophomore Grant Williams and Howard transfer James Daniel III.  Daniel will be particularly interesting to watch as he led the nation in scoring two years ago (27.1 points per game), but is coming off of ankle surgery.
  14. LSU – The Tigers may be picked in last place this year, but it could be a long time before they end up picked this low again as Will Wade has proven he has the ability to recruit, build a program and win games.  He will have a few solid pieces this year, including North Texas graduate transfer Jeremy Combs, who averaged a double-double two years ago before suffering through injuries last season.
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Season Preview: HoopsHD interviews Nevada assistant coach Anthony Ruta

CLICK HERE for all of Jon’s interviews, and the rest of our extensive and continuous preseason coverage

When you think of coaching promotions the 1 that usually comes to mind is assistant coaches who become head coaches, but Anthony Ruta reminds us that that are many rungs on the coaching ladder.  After working as director of basketball operations for Nevada head coach Eric Musselman he was promoted to assistant coach earlier this year.  5 years ago he was getting his undergraduate degree in English literature from ASU and now he is an assistant coach for the defending MWC champs.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Coach Ruta about winning the 2016 CBI and coaching a team with a bunch of transfers.  

You previously were an assistant coach in the D-League: what is the biggest difference between college basketball and pro basketball? There are a few major differences. From a basketball perspective, sideline out-of-bounds plays are so important in the pro game. You have 10-12 of those opportunities throughout a game and a lot of times it comes down to late-game execution with the ability to advance the basketball. In college it is the baseline out-of-bounds plays that are extremely important: you have about 10-12 baseline opportunities and maybe only 2-3 sideline opportunities. Off the floor, in pro basketball you are working with grown men who have families. This is their job so they work out multiple times a day, lift weights, study film, and then go home to spend time with their families. In college you are working with student-athletes who are going to 2-3 classes/day, study hall, etc. They are young men who are only 18-22 years old.

You work for Coach Eric Musselman: what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you have learned from him? He is a continuing learner: he has been coaching for nearly 30 years and has been a head coach throughout most of that time. However, he is constantly evolving. He has built his set of core values from a basketball/cultural perspective but is constantly striving to be a better coach/mentor. The two biggest things that I have been fortunate enough to learn from Coach Musselman are work ethic and how to treat people the right way. When I first met him as a graduate assistant at ASU I was blown away by his work ethic. He works from the time he wakes up until he goes to bed and is the true definition of a basketball junkie. Having someone who works as hard as he does elevates everyone else on the staff. It pushes all of us to match his work ethic and is a huge reason why we have been fortunate enough to have as much success as we have had early on at Nevada. The other part that he has ingrained in me is how to treat people the right way. I was impressed with how he interacted with the student managers/volunteers/graduate assistants when I was at ASU. It was something that really stuck with me and I will carry it with me the rest of the career. He would buy those guys lunch and invite them over to his house for NFL games on Sundays. Those seemingly little things carried a tremendous amount of weight and I try to duplicate them in my assistant coaching role with our younger staff members.

In the final game of the 2016 CBI championship series you had a 3-PT OT win over Morehead State: what did it mean to you to win a title? Winning the CBI championship served as a springboard for not only our NCAA tournament run last season but also for the foundation of our program. When Coach Musselman first took the job in 2015 we spent the first month trying to build a blueprint for the program. We inherited a team that had won just 9 games the previous year but Coach Musselman sat down with the team and said that we were going to win 20 games in 2016. We ended up winning 24 games, including the CBI. For our first game at Nevada against Portland State we drew nearly 5,000 fans, but by the time we reached the CBI championship game against Morehead State we had nearly 10,000 fans in the Lawlor Events Center. It was unique to see our vision/goals become a reality. It also showed our program that if we played hard, competed, and won games that our community would wrap their arms around us. I am unsure that we would have made the NCAA tournament last year without the momentum that the CBI championship gave our program the year before.

In the 2017 NCAA tourney you lost to Iowa State: what did your team learn from that game that will help them this year? We learned a lot: Iowa State was a tremendous team and Coach Prohm and his staff do a great job. They were one of the hottest teams in the country at the time and have one of the best fan bases in all of college basketball. They had a lot of upperclassmen who had played on big stages including the NCAA tournament. Not a single player on our roster last year had ever played in an NCAA tournament game so it was a brand new experience for our guys. Our coaching staff felt as though nerves played a factor because we got off to a slow start where we missed some easy layups/open shots. Iowa State took advantage and was able to build a double-digit lead. Our guys fought back in the second half and were able to cut it to a 1-possession game on several occasions but could not quite get over the hump. It was evident to our guys not only how hard it is to make the NCAA tournament but also how hard it is to win a game once you get there, especially against a team that has been to the NCAA tournament multiple years in a row.

Last May you were promoted you from director of basketball operations to assistant coach: what has been the best part of the promotion? The best part of being promoted to an assistant coach is being able to actually get on the floor and coach the players. I missed being able to jump onto the practice floor and build up sweat equity with our players. However, I think that for any young coach your experience as a director of basketball operations is an invaluable experience. You spend so much time working behind the scenes and doing a lot of day-to-day stuff that is not necessarily getting recognized. In the DOBO position you quickly learn all of the little things that are needed to make a college basketball program tick. The coaching industry is constantly evolving and in order to continue to progress/move up you have to be well-versed in as many areas as you can. Therefore, I have always taken bits and pieces from my experiences at each stop of my coaching career.

You lost 3 of your top-4 scorers from last season (Marcus Marshall/Cameron Oliver/DJ Fenner): how will you try to replace all of that offense? They are all big losses for our program: DJ/Cameron were 2-year starters for us while Marcus was a 1st-team MWC player last year. We feel that our scoring will be a lot more balanced this year. We had several players sitting out last year (including Caleb Martin/Cody Martin/Kendall Stephens/Hallice Cooke), and we also added Darien Williams as a graduate transfer in addition to returning Jordan Caroline/Lindsey Drew/Josh Hall/Elijah Foster. We are deeper than we have been during the previous two years and feel as though this has the potential to be a very good offensive team. We have specific play packages for each guy and on any given night any guy can lead us in scoring.

Last year your team was 13th in the nation with 859 FTA: do you teach your players to be aggressive or are there specific techniques you work on to help them get to the line so often? We preach free throw attempts to our team and have a goal of 25+ FTA/game. Each year when we meet with the team before the season we lay out 3 offensive/3 defensive goals given our personnel, 1 of which is to lead the MWC in FTA. It is basketball: you are going to have plenty of nights where your perimeter shots are not falling as much as you would like or your guys are in shooting slumps. So by preaching to the players to be aggressive and get to the foul line, it allows them to get into a groove by earning points from the free throw line.

You have a lot of transfers on your roster: what is the key to having everyone come together and bond as a team? We do a lot of team bonding activities, including several things as a program throughout the summer/fall that are unique events. We will do team runs in Lake Tahoe that our players/staff must complete, a spin class taught by Coach Musselman’s wife, a boxing class, and circuit training among other events. We also have team dinners/functions at Coach Musselman’s house where the team gets to spend time together off the floor. Probably the best thing that we do for team bonding is having our guys live together in the same apartment complex.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against Rhode Island/Texas Tech/TCU: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? We feel that our non-conference schedule is extremely tough and each game presents its own challenges. TCU/Texas Tech/Rhode Island are all teams that are either ranked in the preseason top-25 or receiving votes. However, we feel that if we do not bring our “A” game each and every night during the non-conference slate then we could be susceptible to losing any game. Our idea behind the schedule was to put ourselves in a position where we are relevant and in the conversation for an at-large bid throughout February/March. As long as we take care of business during the non-conference part and play well during Mountain West action we should be in position to make the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens in the conference tournament.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament. We feel like if we make it there and are able to win a game that anything can happen.

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Conference Preview: Pac 12

Click HERE for all of Jon Teitel’s season preview interviews and Chad Sherwood’s conference previews

PAC TWELVE

Four programs had assistant coaches arrested as part of the FBI bombshell that was dropped on college basketball during the last week of September.  Two of those four are the top two teams (on paper) in the Pac-12 conference this season.  In other words, there will be off-court drama and storylines hovering around this conference all season.  Assuming that Arizona and USC can find ways to keep all of this from affecting the play on the court, both schools should battle for the conference title, and both could have teams good enough to make it to the Final Four in San Antonio.

Beyond the top two, expect last year’s Final Four participant, Oregon, to be strong again despite suffering a ton of offseason losses.  UCLA should have enough pieces to make it easily back to the Big Dance as well.  Beyond the Bruins, Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon State appear to be the most likely to contend for dance tickets, while Utah will need to solve its backcourt issues quickly to contend for a bid.  The bottom of the league once again will feature the two teams from Washington, though this year likely joined by the Cal Bears who must rebuild their roster from the bottom up now that head coach Cuonzo Martin has left for Missouri.  At the end of the day, the Pac-12 has some very good teams at the top, but may also prove to have some very bad ones at the bottom.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Arizona – Last season, we debated who the best active coach to never reach the Final Four was — Sean Miller or Mark Few.  The debate has now been decided, with Mark Few’s name off the list.  This season, Sean Miller has a real chance to remove his as well, with one of the strongest looking rosters in the nation.  Allonzo Trier anchors a solid backcourt that includes Rawle Alkins (once he returns from a late September foot injury) Parker Jackson-Cartwright and UNC-Asheville transfer Dylan Smith.  Down low, freshman DeAndre Ayton and senior Dusan Ristic may give the Wildcats the best frontcourt duo in the nation.  Of course, the Wildcats need a way to get around the offcourt issues, which included assistant coach Emanuel Richardson’s arrest as part of the FBI investigation.
  2. USC – What happens when you take a 26 win team, return 98% of the prior season’s scoring, including backcourt standouts Elijah Stewart and Jordan McLaughlin and frontcourt standouts Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, then go ahead and add in Duke transfer Derryck Thornton and prized recruit Charles O’Bannon, Jr.?  The answer is that you suddenly have a team the could be good enough to be playing in San Antonio at the end of the season.  The Trojans have the talent, experience and depth to beat any team in the nation on any given night, and should battle for the Pac-12 crown all season.  As with Arizona, their biggest issue may be offcourt, as assistant Tony Bland was among the four coaches arrested in late September following the FBI investigation and indictments.
  3. Oregon – The Ducks lost a ton from last season’s Final Four team, as point guard Payton Pritchard is the only returning starter.  That being said, they also brought in an amazing amount of new talent, including graduate transfers Elijah Brown (New Mexico) and MiKyle McIntosh (Illinois State), both of whom were consistent double digit scorers.  The freshmen recruits include Troy Brown, a potential one-and-done at forward and Kenny Wooten, a power forward expected to get immediate playing time.
  4. UCLA – The bad news is that the Bruins need to find a way to replace over 60 points per game of offense with the losses of Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford.  The good news is that the team brings back a pair of solid veterans in Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, and adds to them one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, highlighted by Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes, a pair of five-star McDonald’s All-Americans.
  5. Stanford – The Cardinal feature one of the conference’s top returning players in forward Reid Travis (17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season).  With a ton of other returning players and a solid group of newcomers, a marked improvement from last season’s 14-17 record should be expected.
  6. Arizona State – The Sun Devils should be vastly improved this season.  They return one of the conference’s best backcourts, highlighted by Tra Holder and Shannon Evans.  They should also be improved up front, their major weakness last year, with the additions of redshirt freshmen Romello White and Vitaliy Shibel, plus Juco transfer De’Quon Lake.  The future is bright for the Sun Devils, especially with several major transfers sitting out this season, including former Kansas forward Carlton Bragg.
  7. Oregon State – Can a team that went 5-27 last year actually contend for an NCAA berth this year?  While that answer would normally be a resounding “No,” the Beavers may just be able to do that this season, with virtually everyone back from last year and star Tres Tinkle now healthy again.  The experience gained by players like Stephen Thompson, Jr., Drew Eubanks and Kendal Manuel, plus newcomers that include UMass graduate transfer Seth Berger, could make things as exciting this year in Corvallis as they were two seasons ago.
  8. Utah – The Utes return David Collette, their big man that averaged more than 13 points per game last season and will be the focus of their offense this year, especially with Kyle Kuzma’s decision to turn pro.  Unfortunately, there may not be enough pieces around Collette, especially with huge question marks in the backcourt, for the Utes to get their name into NCAA Tournament talk.
  9. Colorado – The Buffs look like they will have a long season ahead of them, with two of the top three scorers from last season’s team gone.  Perhaps the best news for this team is that there will be tons of chances for young players, such as freshman McKinley Wright IV, to get experience this year, while there is still some veteran leadership from the likes of George King and Tory Miller-Stewart.
  10. Washington – Mike Hopkins certainly has his work cut out for him taking over for Lorenzo Romar, especially after the coaching change led to top prospect Michael Porter, Jr.’s decision to head to Missouri instead.  This team only won 9 games last season despite having the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft (Markelle Fultz).  Hopkins will need to rely on what players he does have left, notably forward Noah Dickerson, for any success, but don’t expect much this season.
  11. California – The Bears lost almost everything from last season’s NIT team, including head coach Cuonzo Martin, who is now at Missouri.  Wyking Jones takes over the program reins, but the only notable piece he may have this year is Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee.  If it wasn’t for  pair of struggling programs in the state of Washington, the Bears would be the clear pick for the Pac-12 cellar.  They still might end up there anyhow.
  12. Washington State – The Cougars missed out in landing a very good recruit in Roberto Gittens, when he chose in August to attend junior college instead.  This is going to be a very long season for head coach Ernie Kent.
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Season Preview: HoopsHD interviews FGCU G Christian Terrell

CLICK HERE for all of Jon’s interviews, and the rest of our extensive and continuous preseason coverage

Oh, did you think that “”Dunk City” was just going to fade away after Andy Enfield left for USC?  That’s so sweet…and so wrong.  FGCU hired Joe Dooley to replace Enfield back in 2013 and all he has done since then is win 21+ games each year, make 4 straight postseason appearances, and be named Atlantic Sun COY last spring.  1 of the keys to the Eagles’ continued success has been G Christian Terrell: he was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team in 2015 and the conference All-Tournament Team in 2016 and enters his senior season ranked in the top-10 in school history in PTS/FGM/3PM/3P%/AST.  HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Christian about making a game-winning shot and being a senior leader.

1 of your teammates at Providence High School was Grayson Allen: how good a player was he back in the day? He was 1 of the most dominant high school players I ever played with/against. Nobody could match his athleticism.

You play for Coach Joe Dooley: what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you have learned from him? His best attribute is that he prepares us for anything that could occur during a game. He lives/breathes basketball and he taught me to play my hardest every single day to help the team win.

In 2015 you were named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team: how were you able to come in and contribute right from the start? My high school helped because I was competing against high-level players. The seniors that year also helped prepare me.

In December of 2015 you had a career-high 25 PTS/5 STL in a loss to South Dakota: where does that rank among the best all-around games of your career? It is probably my 2nd-best game. I only had 2 PTS in the 1st half before having a good 2nd half, but in the long run it does not count for much because we lost the game.

Last November you scored 9 PTS including a contested layup with 2.4 seconds left in a 1-PT OT win over Long Beach State: did you think the shot was going in, and where does that rank among the highlights of your career? Besides winning a pair of conference championships it is probably my 3rd-best moment. I kind of lost the ball going up but got it back and once I regained possession I knew it was going in.

In the 2016 NCAA tourney you lost to eventual runner-up North Carolina and in the 2017 NCAA tourney you had a 6-PT loss to Florida State: are you getting sick of facing ACC schools every March, and has Grayson given you any scouting reports on his conference foes? We got a tough break against UNC because they were #1 overall. Grayson gave me a few tips for facing the Tar Heels but I did not reach out to him about the Seminoles.

Last year your team’s 49.9 FG% was #5 in the nation: what sort of philosophy does your team have on the offensive end? We really try to do an inside-out plan by working through the post and then trying alley-oops at the rim.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against Middle Tennessee/Wichita State/Rhode Island: what do you think about the prospect of playing the Blue Raiders twice in a 12-day stretch this fall? It is always tough to face a time twice in a short period of time: they are a good team and will be a big test for us. The toughest test will probably be Wichita State because they have been a good program for a long time.

You are 1 of 4 seniors on the roster: how crucial will all of that experience be to your team’s success this year? We want to be able to give the young guys the blueprint on how to run the team and keep things going in the right direction. I think this is our best senior class and we will lead the team down the right path.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Our expectation is to win the regular season and conference tourney titles. I want to make the all-conference team but the most important thing is to win games.

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