Coppin State Eagles
Coach: Ron “Fang” Mitchell (25th year at Coppin)
Last Year’s Record: 16-14 (11-6)
Top Returning Players: G Michael Harper (Sr, 15.2 PPG, 43.8 3PT%), F Antonio Williams (Sr, 6.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 54.0 FG%)
Outlook: Led by Michael Harper, Coppin State figures to be a contender for the MEAC championship this season. Alongside Harper, Anontio Williams looks to be one of the most prolific rebounders in the conference, and senior point guard Tony Gallo should excel as he takes on a bigger role this season. If guard Jordan Lee (Loch Raven) can improve his shooting efficiency, the Eagles could be looking at four players who average double figures in scoring.
Local Players: Jordan Lee (Baltimore; Loch Raven), Rodney Edwards (Rockville; Harford CC)
Loyola College Greyhounds
Coach: Jimmy Patsos (8th year at Loyola)
Last Year’s Record: 15-15 (10-9)
Top Returning Players: F Erik Etherly (Jr, 10.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG), F Shane Walker (Sr, 11.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 81.9 FT%), G/F Robert Olson (Jr, 9.1 PPG, 41.3 3PT%)
Outlook: Former Maryland assistant Jimmy Patsos is doing a great job developing the Loyola program, and this year his team looks to take the next step up. With their six top scorers returning, the Greyhounds will undoubtedly contend for the MAAC title. Patsos is placing a large emphasis on recruiting Baltimore’s best high school talent, and his team will be led by two local point guards this season. Dylon Cormier (Cardinal Gibbons) had a solid freshman season, and freshman R.J. Williams (St. Frances) has a chance to make a large impact in his first season on campus.
Local Players: Dylon Cormier (Baltimore; Cardinal Gibbons), R.J. Williams (Baltimore; St. Frances), Jordan Latham (Baltimore; City College)
Morgan State Bears
Coach: Todd Bozeman (6th year at Morgan)
Last Year’s Record: 17-14 (12-7)
Top Returning Players: F Kevin Thompson (Sr, 13.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG), F DeWayne Jackson (Jr, 14.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG), G Larry Bastfield (Sr, 5.1 PPG, 3.4 APG, 39.5 3PT%)
Outlook: It could be a fun year in the MEAC for Baltimore. Morgan State should be in the same boat as Coppin State, and the two teams may turn out to be the conference’s top contenders. After winning three consecutive conference titles, the Bears had a disappointing 2010-11 campaign, but have been tabbed by the MEAC coaches to win their fourth title in five seasons. DeWayne Jackson and Kevin Thompson are a top-notch combination at the forward position, and Larry Bastfield will run the offense efficiently from the point guard position. Todd Bozeman’s squad will miss the 6’10” frame of Rodney Stokes in the post after he graduated, but Stokes is the only key contributor from last season who is not returning in 2011-12.
Local Players: Larry Bastfield (Baltimore; Towson Catholic) Anthony Hubbard (Woodbridge, Va.; Frederick CC), Aric Brooks (Baltimore; St. Frances), James Hamilton (Baltimore; Milford Mill), Kevin Thompson (Baltimore; Walbrook)
Conference: Colonial (CAA)
Coach: Pat Skerry (1st year at Towson)
Last Year’s Record: 4-26 (0-19)
Top Returning Player: G RaShawn Polk (Sr, 11.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG)
Outlook: Last year’s dismal season signaled the end of the failed Pat Kennedy era at Towson, and things aren’t looking much better this season. Five players, including leading scorers Isaiah Philmore (John Carroll) and Braxton Dupree (Calvert Hall) left the team after Kennedy’s departure. Philmore transferred to Xavier, and Dupree is pursuing a professional career in Israel. While Skerry brought in a solid group of freshmen and transfers, the lack of depth and experience on the Towson roster will hurt as the season goes on. Dig in, because it could be another very long year for the Tigers.
Local Players: Deyon Cook (Clarksville; Atholton), Christian Collins (Baltimore; Parkville)
Conference: America East
Coach: Randy Monroe (7th year at UMBC)
Last Year’s Record: 5-25 (4-13)
Top Returning Players: G Chris de la Rosa (Sr, 15.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.0 APG), F Chase Plummer (So, 6.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG)
Outlook: Gone are the days of NCAA tournament glory for UMBC, as the Retrievers have endured two 25-loss seasons in a row. While it seems that there won’t be a complete turnaround in Catonsville this year, Randy Monroe’s team has a few reasons to be optimistic. Chris de la Rosa is tops among returning players in the America East in scoring and assists from last season, and Chase Plummer has the potential to be a high-impact player for the team. Jake Wasco, who has struggled with injuries during his time at UMBC, is healthy this season, and has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. The Retrievers were picked to finish 7th out of nine in the America East this season by the conference’s coaches, but the team could turn a few heads if they get a few favorable bounces.
Local Players: Quentin Jones (Ellicott City; Mount St. Joseph’s), Ryan Cook (Laurel; St. Vincent Pallotti)
Again, check back later in the week for Part Two of our preview, for information on local Division 3 basketball, and Baltimore high school products who are starring around the country.
Edgar Walker is a staff writer at BSR, mostly covering the Ravens and local high school sports. Follow him on Twitter, if that’s the type of thing you like to do with your free time.