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Season Preview: North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks

October 4, 2011

Keith Rendleman

2010-11 Record: 13-18 (7-11, 8th in CAA)

What happened last season: Coaching itinerant Buzz Peterson took scraps and made them competitive in his first season on the water, all while securing a massive recruiting 2011 class that will, ideally, re-infuse the dormant program.

What’s Changed: Small but spirited guard Chad Tomko is gone after a 2nd team All-CAA campaign as a senior and eight freshman enrolled at Wilmington, making the Seahawks one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Key Team Stat: (14) Number of games last season in which low-powered Wilmington scored 60 points or fewer. UNCW, which played at a slower pace than every CAA team but grind-it-out Old Dominion, went just 3-11 in those 14 games.

Key Player Stat: (58.2) Field goal percent for 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward Keith Rendleman, who led the CAA in that category last year despite being undersized in most matchups with opposing post players.

Who’s Vince: Now a junior, Rendleman will have to not only be a standout on the court, but also a babysitter for the embryonic Seahawks. Skinny but skilled, Rendleman increased his scoring production by 5.3 points per game (5.9 to 11.2) from his freshman to sophomore year, and may be in for a similar leap as a junior. Without Tomko – one of the most ball-dominant players in the league – the offense should run through its dreadlocked forward.

Who’s E: Point guard Tanner Milson won back-to-back Rookie of the Week awards before conference play began, but tailed off as his freshman season progressed. Milson, a coach’s son who lost his father to lung cancer late last January, will be better adjusted to handling a full college season as a sophomore. Without Tomko in the lineup, he will absorb much of the play-making responsibilities.

The Entourage: Guard Trevor DeLoach, now a senior, averaged 21.8 ppg in the first four February games last year (including a career-high against William & Mary), but scored just 17 combined points in the next five games to close out the season.  Sophomore forward Donte Morales (5.2 ppg, 3.9) has a solid rookie season and is one of three returning starters. Of the eight freshmen, 6-7  forward Luke Hager (whom Peterson compared to former George Mason swingman Luke Hancock) might be the biggest contributor in Year 1. Peterson also loves guard Adam Smith’s quickness.

Realistic Goal: More than half of the players are able to produce chin hair by the end of the year, when the Seahawks grow goatees to signify solidarity and win a CAA tournament game.

Postseason tournament chances: Not this year

DN-R Prediction: 11th in the CAA

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