#138 USC Upstate Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

USC Upstate Spartans

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #138
Conference Rank: #1 Atlantic Sun
USC Upstate Men's College Basketball 2013-2014 Team Preview

USC Upstate Team Page


USC Upstate finished last season with a disappointing 9-9 conference mark. The Spartans started off pretty well in Atlantic Sun play, but ended by losing six of their final eight conference games. That was a team that returned a lot of talent from an 11-5 squad so the expectations should have been high. Fortunately most of those players are back again and now the question is whether or not this group can play more like they did two years ago instead of last year. As long as Torrey Craig is on the floor, USC Upstate will be dangerous. The 6-6 senior led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman and a sophomore. As a junior last season he once again led the squad with 17.2 points per game and added 6.9 rebounds. The only reason he again did not top the rebounding charts is due to a bigger lineup on the floor. It is a good thing when Craig does not have to do everything for the Spartans. What Craig does do is score everywhere from the floor. He is a prolific outside shooter and does a great job attacking the basket and at least getting to the charity stripe.

2012-13 Record: 16-17, 9-9
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Eddie Payne
Coach Record: 157-177 at USC Upstate, 414-409 overall

Who’s Out:
The Spartans overall experience takes a bit of a hit with the departure of Adrian Rodgers and Rob Elam. The backcourt was light on bodies last season and the transfer of Rodgers does not help. Rodgers started a dozen games and averaged 8.7 points and 2.4 assists. Elam, who started five games as a senior, provided some deep bench help in the frontcourt. Never much of a scoring threat, Elam could do a little bit of everything else.

Who’s In:
Coach Eddie Payne has a lot of new faces that he can plug into the lineup. And he will probably want to find a couple players to provide depth. Among freshmen Daniel Bridges, Karim Mawuenyega, Josh Cuthbertson, Austin Grimes, Racine Talla and Michael Buchanan and junior college transfer ShunQuez Stephens, Coach Payne could use one bigger player to add depth to the frontcourt and probably a scorer on the wing to provide an offensive spark off of the bench. Bridges and Buchanan are the options in the frontcourt, but Stephens is an interesting prospect too. Last seen playing quarterback at Alabama State Highland Junior College, Stephens is a tough forward who can at least help out on the glass. It has been a while since he has played organized basketball and he is undersized compared to the rest of the Spartans frontcourt, but he could be a great option to play ten or so minutes per game. Cuthbertson is expected to emerge as the most complete wing at some point. Grimes is also capable of providing some offense as long as his shot is falling.

Who to Watch:
Craig is the star of the team, but the rest of the frontcourt has the ability to take the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament. Ricardo Glenn is the main interior scorer and rebounder on the squad after averaging 10.5 points and 8.2 rebounds. At 6-8 and 246 pounds, Glenn can take up a lot of space on both sides of the court and that can open up the offense for the slashers and shooters on the team. It also allows Jodd Maxey to sneak over from the weak side and block some shots. Maxey, a 6-8 senior, averaged 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 23 starts during the 2012-2013 campaign. With Craig, Glenn and Maxey in the frontcourt, few teams in the A-Sun can battle with the Spartans in the paint. And it gets even better. Senior Babatunde Olumuyiwa can play about 20 minutes per game and he is a productive defender and rebounder. Coach Payne will need to find a newcomer to provide more frontcourt depth, but there are options. Meanwhile, the returning players will handle a vast majority of the minutes and will remain a very productive and tough unit.

Final Projection:
Ty Greene is the only perimeter player who is a proven scoring threat. He followed up his superb freshman campaign with a fine sophomore season, averaging 12.6 points and 2.5 assists. Greene will do most of his scoring from behind the arc, but he is becoming more aggressive attacking the basket. Mario Blessing is a defensive menace, but not much of a scorer. The 6-2 junior is also developing into a quality ballhandler, so he has become an important player on both ends of the floor. Fred Miller provides the only experienced depth on the perimeter and he too does a fine job of taking care of the ball. However, Miller will not provide an offensive spark off of the bench if his shot does not start falling. The questions on the perimeter are a little worrisome for the USC Upstate. The newcomers could effectively fill the role off of the bench like Rodgers did for most of last season, but it remains to be seen if the Spartans can rely too heavily on any of the freshmen. Even if that takes some time, Craig and the rest of the frontcourt will have this team competing for a conference title by March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Mario Blessing, Junior, Guard, 3.5 points per game
Ty Greene, Junior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Torrey Craig, Senior, Forward, 17.2 points per game
Jodd Maxey, Senior, Forward, 7.7 points per game
Ricardo Glenn, Senior, Forward, 10.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.2 (104th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.5 (168, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.5 (105, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.0 (180, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (134, 6)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.7 (126, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.0 (296, 8)
Rebound Margin: 3.9 (62, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (22, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (196, 3)


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