Basketball season is upon us, folks. After having a good season last year, the men’s team is looking to build upon their success.
Looking at the roster, the team lost Francis Alonso, Demetrius Troy and Lloyd Burgess. Both Alonso and Troy were starters, so that is a significant loss to the team. Burgess offered an important senior presence and leadership skills. All will be missed, but now let’s look at who we gained.
Incoming freshmen guards include the Langley twins (Keyshaun and Kob) forward Khyre Thompson, forward Dericko Williams, guard Arnas Adomavicius and forward Bas Leyte. Transfer Michael Hueitt, Jr. is also now eligible after sitting out a senior. Hueitt and the Langley brothers will look to make up some of shooting lost by Alonso’s departure.
Senior this year include Malik Massey, Kyrin Galloway and James Dickey. In their three years at UNCG, the Spartans have made one NCAA Tournament and two NITs. Their experience and knowledge of UNCG’s way of operating will be immeasurably important to the squad’s success this season.
Looking at the schedule, UNCG’s first game was against NC A&T on Tuesday at the Coliseum. The Spartans cruised in that game, X-X. It was a crosstown rivalry that hosted a great atmosphere.
Next, the Blue and Gold will go on the road to Kansas for a huge matchup against the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks on November 8th. This game will be televised on ESPNU.
Following that, UNCG hosts the Spartan Invitational starting Nov 11 and continuing through the whole week until the next Nov 18. Competitors include the Averett University Cougars, Tennessee Tech University, Montana State and in-state rival Appalachian State.
In the following week, SoCon action opens up as UNCG will take on the Virginia Military Institute at the Coliseum.
The next big game is at Georgetown in Washington D.C. on Nov 30. This may be the most important midseason matchup. Georgetown has a high level of historic success, and they will be a good test for the Spartans. This game will also be televised on FS2.
UNCG has two out of conference matchups following the Georgetown game, including at home versus Kennesaw State and then traveling to Virginia to play Radford.
The next big matchup to watch for is when UNCG hosts NC State Wolfpack. This game will take place on Sunday, Dec 15 at 3:30 pm.
The team will wrap up December by traveling to the University of Vermont, and then taking on Northern Kentucky on Dec 21 and then William and Peace on Dec 28.
Starting Jan 1, SoCon play begins in earnest. There are three conference contenders to keep an eye on once this portion of the season begins, besides UNCG. The Furman Paladins, Wofford Terriers and ETSU Pirates all have legitimate chances to win the conference.
The most difficult stretch of games will be a succession of three games that the Spartans will play between Jan 8-15. UNCG will travel to Wofford, then play ETSU at home, then travel again to Furman. This stretch of games could very well determine UNCG’s seeding in the SoCon tournament later in the year.
Last season, Wofford beat UNCG in the SoCon Championship to earn their berth in the Big Dance. They went on to win versus Seton Hall and they almost beat the heavyweight school of Kentucky. They appear to be UNCG’s biggest roadblock to winning the SoCon and claiming our NCAA Tournament card.
According to the preseason poll, UNCG is predicted to finish second in the conference behind ETSU. This is a good place to be at the beginning of the season, and it still allows for vast amounts of growth and improvement.
The Southern Conference Tournament begins on Friday, March 6.