My 5 - Week 3
The Mid-Major Top 25 has been in existence for 17 years and never before has it been so crowded. This week there were 48 schools among others receiving votes. Including those ranked, that’s a total of 72 programs getting some level of recognition.
Last week Mercer, Northeastern UALR and UT-Arlington had a total of 28 votes. This week all four are ranked for the first time this season.
Northeastern (5-1) is coming off a big victory at Miami. Friday’s win over the nationally ranked Hurricanes was the Huskies first over a Top 25 team since 1986. UALR (5-0), which Kevaney Martin featured in her latest Mid-Major TV segment, has road wins at San Diego State and Tulsa. The Trojans are one of three Sun Belt teams ranked along with UL-Lafayette (2-2) and UT-Arlington (5-1).
With wins over Ohio State and Memphis, UT-Arlington is off to its best start since the 2010-11 season. Scott Cross, who is just five wins away from becoming the school’s all-time wins leader, has two special players in sophomores Erick Neal and Kevin Hervey.
The 6-foot-7 Hervey is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per game. He is coming off three straight doubles, highlighted by a 27-point, 15-rebound effort against Rice on Sunday. He’s athletic and he can shoot it, which makes him a matchup problem. Neal is a dynamic point guard. The 5-foot-11 floor leader is quick and athletic. An excellent ball handler who can shoot, Neal is one of the better-kept secrets in the college basketball.
Like his point guard, Cross doesn’t get a lot of national attention but he is an excellent coach. In addition to his star players, Cross has guys who know their roles and take a lot of pride in doing their part to help the team win. Offensively the Mavericks like to get out and go in transition. Defensively they are effective at keeping opponents off balance, with different looks. They are fun to watch and are a real contender for the Sun Belt Conference title.
Northeastern’s Quincy Ford and Monmouth’s Justin Robinson shared the Lou Henson National Player of the Week honors this week. All Ford did was drop 24 points and rip the twine as time expired to give the Huskies the win at Miami. The fifth-year senior is averaging 16 points and nearly seven rebounds a game and, according to Mike Brodsky @NUHF, ‘Ford is one of the most humble kids he has met in his 30-year association with Northeastern basketball.’ It’s great when your star player is one of your hardest workers and it’s really refreshing when he’s also a great kid.
Monmouth’s Justin Robinson is playing like a kid who is annoyed that he didn’t get named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List. He’s just worried about winning games. I am the one that is bothered that he isn’t on the list.
The 5-foot-8 junior is averaging nearly 25 points per game and he has come up big in wins over UCLA, Notre Dame and USC. He’s a brutal defensive assignment because he can beat you off the dribble and he can shoot it. He really is extension of head coach King Rice, a pretty good point guard himself back in the day, on the court. With Robinson leading the way, the Hawks are one of the top mid-major teams in America, which is why they picked up one first-place vote this week in the Mid-Major Top 25.
MY 5 – WEEK 3
Joel Bolomboy (Weber State): If any other week Bolomboy would be the National Player of the Week. Last week the 6-foot-9 senior had three straight double-doubles to help the Wildcats win the Gulf Coast Showcase. He opened the week with 19 points and 15 rebounds against then No. 7 Central Michigan. The following night he had 12 and 12 against Drake and he closed out the week with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Murray State.
Tre Coggins (Cal State Fullerton): The redshirt junior had back-to-back 25-point efforts to help lead the Titans to wins over Southern Utah and Nevada. The 6-foot-3 guard shot 45.7-percent from the field overall and an impressive 52.9-percent (9-for-17) from three-point range. For the season Coggins is averaging 20 points, four rebounds and two assists per game. He’s a big reason the Titans are 4-1, which is their best start since the 2007-08 season.
James Daniel (Howard): One of the knocks on Daniel has been that he is a high-volume shooter. But if you are putting up big numbers and you are winning, that argument goes out the door. Daniel is scoring big and the Bison are winning. Last week the 5-foot-11 junior scored 30, 22 and 39 in wins over Texas Southern, Central Arkansas and William & Mary. The 39 against W&M were a career-best, highlighted by the game-winning three from way down town. He’s shooting over 45% from the field, which is way up from last season’s 34%. He can play.
Marcus Gilbert (Fairfield): The 6-foot-6 senior is coming off one of the best weeks in Fairfield history, averaging 32.5 points per game in wins over UMES and Columbia. After starting the season 0-3, the Stags have won three straight and Gilbert has been a key. He’s got a quick release and he can shoot it from deep. He’s one of those kids that takes and makes big shots. He can also put it on the floor and finish. He was 11-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, in the win over Columbia.
Bobby Hain (Youngstown State): After starting the season 0-4, the Penguins have won three straight. Helping to lead the way has been the 6-foot-10 senior. Last Monday he had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds in a win over North Dakota. Hain nearly had a triple-double on Sunday at Niagara. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Purple Eagles. For the season he is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game for the Guins.