A-Sun Power Rankings #4: USC Upstate
South Carolina Upstate Spartans (Spartanburg SC)
Owl Howl A-Sun Ranking: 4th out of 10 teams.
2012-13 Finish: 9-9 (16-17). 4th in the Atlantic Sun
Head Coach: Eddie Payne (12th Season)
Projected Starting Five
G Ty Greene (Jr.)
G Josh Cuthbertson (Fr.)
F Torrey Craig (Sr.)
F Jodd Maxey (Sr.)
F Ricardo Glenn (Sr.)
Projected Top Bench Players (in no order)
G Fred Miller (Jr.)
G Mario Blessing (Jr.)
C Babatunde Olumuyiwa (Sr.)
F Shunquez Stephens (So.)
G Karim Mawuenyega (Fr.)
G Austin Grimes (Fr.)
F Racine Talla (Fr.)
C Michael Buchanan (rFr.)
F Daniel Bridges (walk-on, Fr.)
G Tristan Thomas (walk-on, rFr.)
Adrian Rodgers (G): They are losing 23 solid minutes a game that need to be replaced.
Torrey Craig (F): Sometimes cares more about his own shot than anything else, but he is a top talent in the conference and he has the conference honors to prove it.
Ricardo Glenn (F): This big man can do it all, well, except block shots. He’s a good post player who can find cutters with ease.
Jodd Maxey (F): His shot blocking complements Glenn nicely.
Ty Greene (G): The former A-Sun freshman of the year is nothing special, but he’s something.
Babatunde Olomuwiya (C): The big man with the unpronounceable last name gives Upstate excellent frontcourt depth and extra shot blocking. Yes, I copied and pasted his name and Mawuenyega’s…every time.
Shunquez Stephens (F): This 6’5″ 245 former quarterback is trying his luck in basketball after playing football for a few years. Will he make an immediate impact? I’m not sure, but they could use somebody for a few minutes a game to replace Rob Elam.
Josh Cuthbertson (G): An aggressive defender who plays hard and can shoot the basketball. I placed him in their starting lineup because I think he’ll finish the season there. Plus, everybody who comes into the A-Sun with a flattop seems to perform well.
Reasons for Optimism
1. Most of the team is back together again for a third straight year.
2. After finishing 13-5 two years ago and then 9-9 last year, one would think that they can figure out what wasn’t working.
3. Great front court depth
Reasons for Concern
1. There was some selfish play last season from Upstate. Can they play as a team?
2. Losing Adrian Rodgers and his 23 minutes a game when there’s no apparent replacement ready. Mario Blessing got benched late in the season, and Ty Greene got benched at a couple points in the year if I recall correctly. Fred Miller is what he is, which means they need at least one of the freshman guards to step up quickly.
3. Any time a team finishes 13-5, loses nobody important over the off-season and then embarrassingly regresses, it’s a problem. This is what prevented me from ranking them any higher.
4. They were 3-10 when Torrey Craig took 15 or more shots in a game last season and 2-8 when he attempted 8 or more threes. He had multiple assists in just 17 of their Division I contests. His three point field goal percentage went up in 2012-13 but his overall field goal percentage went down.
If USCU reversed the results of their 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, they would be ranked higher than this. They need to run their offense inside out, and as a fan of the game of basketball, I want to see more Ricardo Glenn touches and less Ty Greene/Torrey Craig. Oh yeah, Mario is definitely not a Blessing on the basketball court.
It will be interesting to see how Grimes and Mawuenyega do, because they had two other guards (Bakari Copeland/Desmond Robinson) commit and de-commit before Grimes and Mawuenyega were even rostered. Forward Kevin Bracey-Davis was also a de-commit.
I’m getting off subject here…but come to think of it…Upstate has quite the recent history of people coming and going which makes me wonder about the long-term success of their program under Eddie Payne. Last season their roster included:
- Dee Washington: Redshirted the season then transferred
- Zach Lillie: Mid-season transfer
- David Lighty: Suddenly disappeared from the roster one day before the season and never played.