USD Men's Basketball 2003-2004 West Coast Conference
DIVISION Ill PREVIEW
THE POWERS THAT BE This year's top D-111 squads shouldn't fee l too comfortable, as a host of ascending teams look to spoil their national t itle hopes BY DAMIAN VEGA
E very year there are favorite teams that garner all of the early attention. and then Cinderella squads that pose a serious threat to the national title. This year shouldn't be any different as the likes ofWooster.Rochester and Williams will feel the pressure put on by anumber of other rising powers. 1. Wooster (Ohio.) The Fighting Scots will be looking to improve on athird– place fin ish. They have 13 players returning , including guard Rodney Mitchell. who averaged 10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.3 apg last season. He figures to pace the Fighting Scots to another North Coast Athletic Conference title. 2. Rochester (N.Y.) The Yellowjackets finished in thetop 10 at the end of last season with a strong tournament showing. Their front– court is one of the biggest and best in the nation.Junior Seth Hauben (13.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg) is the top returning player. but he'll have plenty of help as Rochester also has its second and third leading scorers back from a season ago. 3. Williams College (Mass.) The reigning national champions lost a host of talent. but the return of All-Region selection Michael Crotty should help. The senor guard is one of the top playmakers in the country and can hit a jump shot with the best of them. 4. Randolph-Macon (Va.) Th e roster featured few upperclassmen last season, and R-M still managed to reach the regional semifinals. This time around,those same players are ayear wiser as head coach Mike Rhoades has 12 horses back,which explains their emergence into the top five. 5. Ramapo (N.J.) Gua rd Charles Ransom is the reigning New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year and helped the Roadrunners fi nish ninth inthe nation last year. The senior shooting guard, who has 1.465 career points in th ree yea rs. is on pace to become the schools' all-time leading scorer, as he starts this season a mere 302 points shy. 6. Hampden-Sydney (Va.) Senior Jeff Monroe, asecond-team All-American, should carry H-Sdeep into the postseason and give them a great shot at the Final Four. 7. Amherst College (Mass.) For the Jeffs, the obstacle is always Williams. Their archrival got the best of them in the regula r season and then knocked them out of the postseason. But, Amherst has five seniors- including Adam Harper- back as they compete for another postseason run .
2003-04 PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAMS
First Team G Drew Carstens, Augustana G Jeff Monroe, Hampden-Sydney (Va.I C Joel Kolmodin, Wheaton (Ill) F Rich Melzer, UW-Riwr Falls F Aaron Marshall St Lawrence SecondTHm G Charles Ransom, Ramapo G Jeff Sidney, St. John Fisher C Jerome Trawick, Montclair State F Seth Hauben, Rochester F Josh Becker, Buffalo State
DMSION Ill PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jeff Monroe averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in lifting the Tigers to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division Ill national championship. While those numbers were good enough to earn second– team AU-America honors, what makes Monroe the CHI preseason player of the year was his performance in crunch time. His postseason began with a buzzer-beater in the second round of the tournament against Savannah College of Art and Design in a 56-54 victory. Monroe then led the team to wins in the regional semifinal and final before earning Final Four All– Tournament honors. On the biggest stage, he dropped in 44 points in two games, and his 10-of-19 marksmanship in the consolation game led to a career-high 27 points. For the season, Monroe ranked first on the Tigers in scoring, three– point percentage (.3501 and 3-pointers made (37). - DV
Guard Rodney Mitchell has a terrific all-around game, and looks to help get Wooster back to the Final Four for a shot at a national championship. 8. Washington University (Mo.) Despite having several new starters, Washington has awinning tradition and tough defense that could make the difference. With Mark Edwards- the program's winningest coach- still on the sidelines, the Bears should be able to make a run. 9. Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) A Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power for the last six seasons. the Gusties fell to Williams by two in the national championship game last season. Although the championship run was somewhat of asurprise. it shouldn't be this year with Tim Brown back to hopefully power another deep run into the postseason. 10. Wisconsin-Oshkosh The Titans entire frontcourt and three leading scorers have all graduated. Still, UW-Oshkosh is a young, explosive team that figures to push UW-River Falls for a conferen ce title and possibly continue the team's storied su ccess. ■
Damian Vega is a sportswriter for MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass.
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