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AROUND THE NATION


November 12, 2007

GIANT KILLER IN THE MAKING

Todd Bozeman is quietly doing a very nice job at Morgan State.Don't look know, but Todd Bozeman is building a potential giant killer at Morgan State. In a game that ended up being overshadowed by Gardner Webb's upset of Kentucky in another 2K Sports College Hoops Classic game, Morgan State went into Storrs and nearly knocked off UConn. The Bears led early, went into halftime down by nine, and rallied to get within striking distance before falling, 69-65.

I really like Boubacar Coly, the 6-9 forward who went for a double-double against UConn. Look for him to improve on the 7.7 rebounds a contest he pulled down a season ago. Jamar Smith provides a decent scoring option for the Bears, while last season's MEAC All-Rookie Team selection Reggie Holmes is looking like he might be ready to take on much more of the scoring load for this team.

Looking at the upcoming scheduled, the Bears have a couple more chances to notch a high profile upset. Miami, Maryland and Seton Hall will all get a stiff test from Morgan State. It looks like Bozeman is starting to make an impression on recruits in Baltimore, which is one of the most talent rich cities on the east coast. Expect him to start convincing more of the city's best to stay home and play for him.


FOX FACES ANOTHER TOUGH CHALLENGE

Nevada's Mark Fox is as solid a coach as there is in the college ranks these days. He paid his dues as an at Washington State, Kansas State and Nevada, spending 13 seasons in all as an assistant before getting an opportunity to be a head coach. In his three seasons leading Nevada, he's fashioned an impressive 81-18 record and taken the Wolf Pack to three straight NCAA Tournaments.

His ability is really going to be tested this season, though. Four starters are gone, with forward Nick Fazekas and guard Ramon Sessions being taken in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft. The lack of experience showed in the Pack's season opener at Central Florida in which they turned it over 18 times en route to a 63-60 loss. It looks like it's rebuilding time in Reno.

But Fox faced a similar situation in his first season back in 2004-05 when the team had to replace three starters from its WAC championship and NCAA Sweet Sixteen squad in WAC Player of the Year Kirk Snyder, Todd Okeson and Garry Hill-Thomas. Fox was able to lead Nevada to a repeat as WAC champions and took the team to the second round of NCAA Tournament that season. It might be a slightly tougher chore this time around, but Fox has shown he's up to the task.

In order for Nevada to stay on top of the WAC, Fox will have to find some help for senior guard Marcelus Kemp. A 2007 first-team All-WAC selection and preseason all-league honoree, Kemp finished second on the Wolf Pack and third in the league in scoring at 18.5 ppg last season. The opposition will definitely key on him, so point production will have to come from players like center David Ellis, a big man who has to emerge from Fazekas' shadow in a big way.


THE BARNES ERA BEGINS

The Rod Barnes Era at Georgia State didn't get off to the most auspicious start. The Panthers trailed UAB by four with less than eight minutes to play before suffering a big meltdown that resulted in an 86-63 loss. But you can never judge a coach by his season opener, and I think the relationship will be a good fit for both sides.

In Barnes, Georgia State is getting a solid coach with great credentials. People forget he was the 2001 Naismith National Coach of the Year when he led Ole Miss to a school-record 27 wins and reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. In Georgia State, Barnes finds himself at one of the fastest growing schools in the Southeast which just happens to be located in the recruiting hotbed of Atlanta. This is an alumni base that is eager to support the kind of solid program Barnes can build. Long term, this is looking like a win-win situation.


John Stansberry is a senior writer for collegeinsider.com. EMAIL JOHN
 

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