#16- The Appalachian State Mountaineers
Last season, as shown by a 9-21 record, was not an easy road for Appalachian State’s basketball team. A challenging nonconference schedule saw losses to strong opponents such as NC State, Cincinnati, Georgia and North Carolina Central. They ended at 5-11 in conference play, and ended up rounding out a disappointing season with a loss to Samford in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament. That, however, is the last Southern Conference tournament the Mountaineers will play in, as they make a move to the Sun Belt Conference this season. The Mountaineers will also have a new face at Head Coach in Jim Fox, previously the associate Head Coach at Davidson. While the move to a new conference will drastically change that part of the schedule, the nonconference schedule will once again have some challenges, as App State will take on three Power 5 Conference teams – Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Alabama. They will also face some other tough teams in the nonconference half of the season, so it could be a bit of a struggle for the Mountaineers to make it through the opening of the 2014-2015 campaign. Once the conference schedule hits, Appalachian State should play in plenty of close games, which will certainly challenge them, but also give them a decent chance at performing well. Although they will contend in plenty of games, don’t expect too much from an Appalachian State team that is coming off a bad year and that has only 2 all time NCAA Tournament appearances, losing in the first round both times. The Mountaineers just aren’t quite at the level where they can contend on a regular basis.
Tab Hamilton, Senior G – Tab Hamilton will be the key to Appalachian State’s season. The senior guard led the Mountaineers last season in minutes and points per game, and was second in steals. He averaged 12.7 PPG on a .320 field goal percentage, and is the heart and soul of the team. Hamilton attempted almost 150 more shots than any other player on his team last year, which just shows how much the offense is built around him. He is always on the court, and will be the go-to-guy for Appalachian State this year. He likely won’t be able to get the job done alone though, so his teammates will need to step up and contribute some.
Michael Obacha, Sophomore F – As a freshman last year, Obacha quickly took a prominent spot on the team, averaging just over 27 minutes per game. This number will likely increase this year, as Obacha will be a guy that App State looks to as the big man underneath. The 6’8’’ 215 pound Nigerian is certainly a big man, and one who averaged a solid 8.7 rebounds per game, to go along with 5.4 PPG last year for Appalachian State. The young forward will probably establish himself as a strong player, both offensively and defensively, and will see some growth in his game this year.
Not much should be expected from Appalachian State this year, but the fact can not be discounted that they have strong leadership, as well as some young blood looking will look to show their skills this year. While this may help the record improve some this year, don’t look for a major improvement for Appalachian State and their difficult non-conference schedule. When all is said and done, I think the Mountaineers will end with a record of 12-17.