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Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange
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AROUND THE LEAGUE

ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK

--UALR will have to improve on its press-breaking next season. The Trojans blew a 13-point lead late in its quarterfinal loss to WKU because of the Hilltoppers' full-court press.

--With rising junior Will Neighbour and rising sophomore Michael Javes coming back next year, UALR could stake a claim to having the league's best frontcourt.

--UALR will need to replace first-team all-conference point guard D'Andre Williams, who graduated this year.

ARKANSAS STATE

--ASU junior guard Trey Finn earned all-Sun Belt Tournament honors after averaging 16.3 points per game in three tournament games.

--Finn and senior forward Malcoln Kirkland were named to the CollegeSportsMadness.com all-conference second team.

--In the recruiting period, ASU is looking for one more playmaking guard. The Red Wolves only lose Kirkland.

DENVER

--Junior guard Chase Hallam would have helped in the Sun Belt Tournament, but he missed it with a back injury, which snapped his streak of 90 straight starts. Hallam is expected to be ready for next season.

--Brian Stafford's 261 career 3-pointers are third in DU history and fifth in Sun Belt history.

--Denver moves to the Western Athletic Conference next season.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC

--Mike Jarvis has been the coach at FAU for four years, but he is 0-4 in Sun Belt Tournament games, losing the first game each year.

--Junior guard Ray Taylor played zero minutes in the second half of the SBC Tournament loss to Arkansas State after fouling a shooter from 75 feet away at the halftime buzzer. FAU will need Taylor to play at the level he did his first two years to compete next season.

--FAU struggled down low after losing two-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Brett Royster to graduation. The hope is that Dragan Sekeljia, a 7-footer who sat out this season as a Baylor transfer, can take over and fill that void.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL

--The hire of Isiah Thomas three seasons ago was much-hyped, but the NBA Hall of Famer has failed to deliver. Thomas is 26-65 for his career.

--FIU turned it up defensively, averaging a Sun Belt-best 7.6 steals per game.

--FIU will be searching for wing players who are capable of replacing Jeremy Allen and DeJuan Wright's combined 30 points per game, which will be lost to graduation.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

--ULL announced the release of sophomore forward J.J. Thomas and junior point guard Raymone Andrews from their scholarships on March 5.

--Cleveland "Pancake" Thomas, J.J's younger brother, is also looking to get out of his letter of intent. Pancake signed with ULL last fall.

--ULL will be bolstered next season by two transfers who become eligible in center Shawn Long (Mississippi State) and guard Kevin Brown (Tulane).

LOUISIANA-MONROE

--Second-year ULM coach Keith Richard accepted a two-year contract extension on March 17. Richard's contract now runs through 2017.

--ULM added Ryan Cross as an assistant coach for next year's staff.

--ULM, which was not eligible for postseason play this year due to APR penalties, did receive a passing grade and gained eligibility for postseason tournaments next year.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

--MTSU was last in the Sun Belt in free throw shooting at 60 percent, and it showed in the first-round SBC Tournament loss to Arkansas State, especially as the Blue Raiders missed their last five free throws.

--Replacing Sun Belt Player of the Year LaRon Dendy will be tough, but veterans J.T. Sulton and Shawn Jones should be able to control the paint and be one of the league's better duos.

--MTSU's No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament was the first for the school in a conference tournament since it earned a No. 1 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in 1989.

NORTH TEXAS

--The big decision UNT fans are waiting on is if freshman forward Tony Mitchell will declare for the NBA Draft or not. Mitchell averaged a double-double in his first year of eligibility and won the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year award.

--UNT has two signees, JUCO center John Odoh, who led all of JUCO in rebounding, and sharpshooter Clarke Overlander from Argyle, Texas.

--Next year, Grambling transfer Justin Patton is expected to be eligible after sitting out this season.

SOUTH ALABAMA

--The Jags finished the season with some momentum, winning seven of their last 10 games.

--Sophomore forward Augustine Rubit had his career-long double-double streak of four games end with a quarterfinal loss to Denver.

--Rubit finished the season one rebound behind Brandon Davis for seventh place on the school's all-time career rebounding list.

TROY

--Troy has two non-conference games set for next year in the new Trojan Arena: The Nov. 9 season opener against Mississippi State and a game against Georgia State.

--Troy has three scholarships to offer in the spring signing class and hopes to get a big man, wing player and point guard.

WESTERN KENTUCKY

--Freshman forward George Fant, the Sun Belt Tournament Most Valuable Player, is averaging 15.3 points per game over his last four games.

--WKU's NCAA Tournament appearance is its 22nd overall and first since 2009. Its last two trips have resulted in trips to the second round and Sweet 16 (2008).

--Freshmen account for 59.4 percent of WKU's points and 61.6 percent of WKU's rebounds.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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