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Previewing South Alabama, which also has a long way to go

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 6 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 15


Online streamingWatchESPN

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

South Alabama vitals

Record: 1-0 (20-point win over D-II Auburn Montgomery) 
Preseason Pomeroy ranking***: No. 252

Adjusted tempo (projected): 70.8 poss/40 minutes (ranks 94th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency (projected): 98.7 (ranks 204th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency (projected): 104.4 (ranks 294th)

(***Pomeroy Ratings ignore all games against non-DI opponents, so South Alabama is still effectively 0-0.)

USA roster
USA schedule
USA stats 2015

The South Alabama offense and starters

USA Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 46.4 (305) 18.4 (182) 31.6 (171) 36.4 (276)
2014-15 47.8 (226) 20.9 (292) 30.0 (203) 41.9 (57)

The South Alabama Jaguars, more than just a football team, but in fact an entire athletics department full of other sports! Including basketball. Oh, how it includes basketball. The Jags' hoops team is coming off back-to-back losing seasons, and although they might have one of the best players in the Sun Belt Conference, they don't have enough depth to create much forward progress.

The immediate problem for USA is that its best player isn't very efficient. Ken Williams led the squad with 15 points per game last season and that earned him a preseason all-conference selection this year, but he is a volume scorer who has struggled to hit a decent percentage of shots inside the arc.

South Alabama has also been inclined as a team to fancy itself a jump shooting collective, but the results haven't been there. In 2014, the Jaguars shot only 33.3% from deep while attempting threes at a Princeton-offensey rate. Last season, South Alabama cut down on its three-point attempt rate but still shot only 32.9% from beyond the arc.

Then again, it's not like either of those USA teams were particularly effective inside the arc, either. Sometimes there's just crap all over, and there's nothing you can do about it. And sometimes there's a lot more to a team than the way it shoots the ball, but when you have a team like South Alabama, which does nothing else well, there's really no need to dig deeper.


Barrington Stevens (5-11, 182) -- He's good enough from outside to keep you honest, but that's about it; he has the typical Short Guy Problems inside the arc. Decent distributor, above-average free throw shooter.

Ken Williams (6-3, 190) -- Williams stepped into the primary scorer role last season, at the cost of his already questionable two-point shooting. He hit only 38.5% of his 192 two-point attempts, balancing that somewhat by hitting 36.5% of his 222 three-point attempts. Easier said than done, but the ideally you want to push him inside the three-point line into the mid-range decision zone, where he's either giving up the ball or shooting off the bounce.

Nick Stover (6-6, 200) -- Spent two unremarkable years at Loyola Marymount before transferring to USA, where he should have a full opportunity to show what he can do. Transfers are always something of an x-factor because it's hard to gauge how they treated their off year, but Stover is a career 27.8% three-point shooter who's hit 44.8% inside the arc.

Georgi Boyanov (6-7, 210) -- As a role player, he's been decent in some aspects--he's hit 55% of his twos while being a solid rebounder at both ends of the floor. He's also a bad three-point shooter who thinks he can make three-pointers, and he's prone to turnovers.

Nikola Marijan (7-1, 235) -- This here tree is a near-total unknown, what with his being a true freshman on the South Alabama basketball team. He started the team's opener but didn't play a lot, and I'm guessing USA will try to limit his exposure again on Sunday.

The South Alabama bench and defense

Reserves: Taishaun Johnson (6-0, 172), Don MuepoKelly (6-7, 238), Tafari Whittingham (6-8, 215), John Brown (6-4,200). Johnson is the most likely guy to provide additional scoring since he shouldered an above-average workload last season. He is not at all shy about trying threes despite hitting only 30% from deep. Whittingham and/or MuepoKelly (no, that's not a typo, you; yeah I'm lookin' at you, pal) should prove necessary as depth up front while probably not contributing much offensively.

USA Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 49.1 (143) 16.4 (288) 31.4 (174) 40.8 (182)
2014-15 49.0 (165) 15.2 (344)
33.9 (269) 34.1 (117)

Look at those numbers, they sure are numbers; not good numbers, mind you, but numbers all the same.

The Pomeroy Predictor (which doesn't know about injuries, or how much you or I have been crying) likes NC State by 15.