It’s test season at Union which means usually all things are happening at once: studying, the end of basketball season and your job requires more hours of you. I have sadly succumbed at times to stress levels I’m not proud of.
With that being said, I don’t have anything witty or smart to say before the rankings. So I’ll say lean on some cliches—this week is the final countdown heading into postseason play. This week will answer all my questions about how the seeds will shake out for the conference tournament.
Oh wait, let me tell you a story first:
When I was in the fourth grade my dad took me hunting. It required me to get up at 3:30 a.m., put on a bunch of camouflage with my long underwear, jeans, coveralls, hoodie and thick coat. As a small, skinny and frail kid I was weak. I couldn’t function well without eating and I skipped breakfast that morning because it was so early my body rejected the idea of food.
It got to be nine in the morning and we had been in the stand for four hours or more and my dad decided to head back to the base camp with me and while walking through an empty cornfield I fell over. I tried to get back up but all the stuff I was wearing was too heavy.
“What’re you doing?” my dad asked.
“Praying,” I lied because I thought he couldn’t get mad at me if I was praying. I didn’t know what to do. I looked and felt so weak. I could barely move. I tried to get back up but I couldn’t move, so my dad left me to go drive the truck to me so I could eat and get warm again. I don’t remember ever feeling so pathetic.
How does this connect to basketball or the thing I said earlier about tests and busyness? The lesson is eat before you go to work so you don’t collapse. That’s really all I got. On to the rankings:
12. Mississippi College 5-19 (2-18 in GSC)
11. West Georgia 9-17 (6-14 in GSC)
10. West Alabama 10-16 (5-15 in GSC)
9. Lee 11-15 (7-13 in GSC)
It looked like Lee’s season was over last week. I ranked them eleventh in the conference and they sat with just five conference wins. The chances of them putting together a four game stretch strong enough to get them into postseason play were slim to none, but they won both their games last week so now they have a mathematical shot at making the conference tournament.
Don’t be fooled, their wins are nice and winning two games in a row in this conference is difficult, but they beat West Georgia and West Alabama—teams that are already eliminated from post season play. Their final two regular season games this week are agains West Florida and Valdosta State—two of the top four teams in the conference— which still have something to prove before postseason play. Their main competitor, North Alabama, plays against Union and Christian Brothers this week, which will still be incredibly difficult wins, but those two teams are more beatable than Lee’s opponents.
Lee’s two wins last week separated them from the bottom three, but it isn’t enough to put them in the top eight. I predict they’ll be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start next week.
8. North Alabama 13-13 (8-12 in GSC)
7. Union 14-12 (9-11 in GSC)
6. Christian Brothers 15-11 (12-8 in GSC)
5. Shorter 17-9 (11-9 in GSC)
I hate moving Christian Brothers back in these rankings because I like the way some of their players play, but Shorter is hitting their stride at the right moment and CBU is stumbling across the finish line.
The other issue comes down to who has the best player and which team is the least predictable to gameplan for. Shorter has Phil Taylor, one of the most prolific players in Division II basketball. Whenever Taylor is on the court Shorter has a chance to simply outscore teams without worrying about defense too much. He’s the Division II Allen Iverson, which is ironic because he’s actually AI’s godson. I bet CBU’s Adam Dieball is the godson of Pau Gasol.
The other problem for CBU is their offense. Their Princeton style offense is complex with a ton backdoor cuts, clumping together at strange times just to spread out again and everyone on the floor having a respectable outside shot. The issue is every team in the conference will have played them twice in the regular season and they run they same system every year so the scouting report isn’t as hard to break down. Opposing players have to maintain their focus at all times during the games, but with postseason play coming up that’s more likely than it was when they went on a run early in the season.
4. West Florida 18-8 (12-8 in GSC)
3. Delta State 20-6 (15-5 in GSC)
2. Alabama-Huntsville 20-6 (16-4 in GSC)
1. Valdosta State 22-4 (17-3)
Valdosta and UAH are ranked in the top 25 nationally (VSU is 20 and UAH is 23) and the Gulf South Conference dominated the regional rankings with six teams in the top eight. That makes our conference one of the strongest in Division II play with the chance for five teams to make the national tournament. There are only eight spots for the three conferences in our region and three of them are automatic bids for the winners of the conference tournament. The Gulf South Conference having a chance at five teams in the tournament is ridiculous.
That’s the rankings. See you next week.