Spartans head to Asheville for SoCon Tournament
Miller, Simpson, Armstrong Earn Post-season Honors
The Southern Conference Sports Media Association named UNCG's Wes Miller as its Anton Foy Coach of the Year recipient while also naming Spartan standouts Trevis Simpson and Derrell Armstrong to the all-conference teams.
Miller was elevated to interim head coach at UNCG on December 13. The youngest Division I head coach in the country at 29 years old, Miller led the Spartans to a 10-8 SoCon record and captured the North Division championship, marking the first time the Spartans have won the division outright. UNCG's 10 league wins was its highest win total in conference play since the 2008 season. The Spartans strung together seven consecutive wins from mid-January into early February as part of their run during the second half of the season. Miller is UNCG's first conference coach of the year in the Spartans' 21-year Division I history.
Simpson, who earlier in the week was named all-conference by the SoCon coaches, was named first-team all-SoCon by the media. A sophomore swingman, Simpson enters this week's conference tournament leading the SoCon in scoring at 18.2 points per game. He also ranks among conference leaders in 3-pointers per game (2.0, t-5th) and free throw percentage (.752, 14th), while also averaging 4.2 rebounds per game. With 509 points on the season, Simpson ranks ninth in UNCG single-season history.
During the 2011-12 season, Simpson has enjoyed several outstanding performances but none were better than his efforts in a loss at Miami (Fla.) on Jan. 2. Against the Hurricanes, Simpson scored a career and SoCon individual season-high 36 points, hitting a career-best seven 3-pointers and adding a flurry of highlight reel dunks. One of those dunks earned him a spot the following day on ESPN's Top 10 Plays.
Simpson owns 12 games of 20 or more points, including a string of six straight games between late January and mid-February in which he scored 23 or more points in six straight contests.
A junior college transfer in his first season with the Spartans, Armstrong earned a spot on the all-conference third team. Playing in all 30 games, Armstrong is averaging 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while ranking among conference leaders with a team-high 46 steals. Armstrong, a junior guard, elevated his play during the SoCon schedule, averaging 15.9 points in conference play.
UNCG in the SoCon Tournament
UNCG is making its 14th appearance in the Southern Conference Tournament this weekend, and the Spartans are 12-13 all-time in SoCon Tourney play. UNCG has participated in every tournament since joining the league prior to the 1997-98 season. The Spartans captured the Tournament championship in 2001, and were the tournament runner-up in 2005. UNCG has won at least one game in eight of 13 previous appearances, including each of the last two seasons.
UNCG Record vs. Opponents in SoCon Tourney
Appalachian State 1-0
Coll. of Charleston 0-1
Georgia Southern 1-1
The Citadel 0-0
Western Carolina 3-1
About Wes Miller
UNCG interim head coach Wes Miller, 29, is in his second season on staff with the Spartans. He has previous Division I coaching experience as an assistant at both Elon (2008-09) and High Point (2009-10). A native of Charlotte, Miller lettered three seasons at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels to the 2005 national championship. He graduated from UNC in 2007 with a degree in political science. After graduation, Miller played one season of professional basketball for the London Capitals of the British Basketball League.
America's Youngest Head Coach
With his promotion to interim head coach Wes Miller is the youngest Division I head coach in the country:
Coach Birthdate Age
Wes Miller, UNCG Jan. 28, 1983 29
Andy Toole, Robert Morris Sept. 11, 1980 31
Jason Capel, Appalachian State Jan. 15, 1980 32
Brian Wardle, Wisconsin-Green Bay Oct. 9, 1979 32
Archie Miller, Dayton Oct. 30, 1978 33
Dement Steps Aside as Men's Basketball Coach; Miller Named as Interim
UNCG men's basketball head coach Mike Dement and Director of Athletics Kim Record on Dec. 13 reached a mutual agreement that Dement will no longer serve as head coach, effective immediately. A national search for a permanent men's basketball coach will be conducted.
Assistant coach Wes Miller was named as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Dement was in the seventh season of his second tenure as head coach of the Spartans. He returned to UNCG on April 9, 2005, after previously serving as head coach from 1991-95. In 11 total seasons as UNCG's head coach, Dement posted a 124-181 record. The 124 victories are a school record for men's basketball.
UNCG's first men's basketball head coach in the school's Division I era, Dement coached the Spartans to a Big South Conference championship and a school-record 23 wins during the 1994-95 season before leaving to take a head coaching position at SMU. Dement is 329-368 in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
Spartans Clinch Outright SoCon North Division Title for First Time
With Elon's loss on Thursday at Davidson, UNCG officially secured its first outright Southern Conference North Division title. The Spartans, who previously shared a division crown in 2002, are the north's No. 1 seed for the upcoming Southern Conference Tournament, which begins Friday, March 2 in Asheville. UNCG will open tournament play in the quarterfinals at noon on Saturday, March 3 against either College of Charleston or Appalachian State. UNCG receives a first round bye for the first time since 2008.
During UNCG's run to the top of the SoCon North Division standings, one constant has emerged: the bench. Over the last 13 games, the Spartans' reserves are out-scoring their counterparts by more than 2-to-1. UNCG's bench is averaging more than 36 points per game, compared to 17.1 points for the opponents. Junior guard Derrell Armstrong (17.4) is the top scoring reserve in that time, and he's supported by Aloysius Henry (7.8, 4.5 rebounds), Kyle Randall (6.2), Nicholas Paulos (5.8), and Taylor Hoffer (1.5 points, 2.9 rebounds).
History in the Making
Trevis Simpson is not only enjoying a player-of-the-year type campaign, he's on the verge of one of the most historically significant seasons for a UNCG player.
Entering SoCon Tournament play, Simpson is the ninth player in school history to score 500 points in a season, eclipsing the mark against Elon in the regular season finale. Simpson can also finish in the school season top 10 for field goals, three-pointers, and free throws made and attempted.
Junior guard Derrell Armstrong has been a key reason for UNCG's surge to the top of the SoCon's North Division. The junior guard has been an offensive force since mid-January, earning a pair of SoCon player of the week awards in the process.
Since a Jan. 12 win at College of Charleston, Armstrong is averaging 18.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, with all but one game coming in a reserve role. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Armstrong has developed into UNCG's most reliable three-point threat, shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc in the last 14 games.
Armstrong was already UNCG's top threat off the bench, but his recent play has lifted his scoring average into double-figures (12.5), while he is now averaging 15.9 points in SoCon play.
UNCG has been desperately seeking a scoring post presence this season, and it appears that over the last eight games the Spartans may have found their man.
Senior center Aloysius Henry has come alive in the last three weeks, averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Henry is shooting 61 percent (30-49) from the field and 79 percent (26-33) from the free throw line.
He scored 20 of his season-high 22 points in the second half of UNCG's home win over Charleston and had 14 points in 18 minutes at Georgia Southern.
Simpson Named SoCon Player of the Week
UNCG men's basketball stand-out Trevis Simpson has been named the Southern Conference Player of the Week for all games played February 7-13, the league office announced Tuesday. This is Simpson's first career honor and the third for the Spartans in the last four weeks.
Simpson averaged 26.5 points per game last week as UNCG picked up road wins at Samford (71-69) and Chattanooga (77-76) to move into first place in the North Division.
Simpson poured in a game-high 25 points at Samford as the Spartans came away with a two-point victory. The Douglas, Ga., native also grabbed a season-high seven rebounds in the win. On the road at Chattanooga, Simpson tallied 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 18 points in the second half. Trailing by four with 1:29 to play, Simpson hit a three-pointer to pull the Spartans to within one before teammate Derrell Armstrong scored with 16 seconds left to lift UNCG to the win.
The SoCon's leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, Simpson has scored at least 23 points in each of his last six games and is averaging 25.7 points per contest over that stretch, while UNCG is 5-1 in those games.
Simpson Makes ESPN Top Plays
In addition to nearly setting a school record for points in a game, Trevis Simpson also put on a dunking exhibition during UNCG's loss at Miami. One of his dunks, a reverse alley-oop off a pass from Derrell Armstrong, made the No. 6 spot on ESPN's Top Plays the next day.
Parker Packing a Long-Range Punch
Sophomore guard Drew Parker isn't exactly the first name that comes to mind when pondering UNCG's top three-point shooters. After all, he shot just 30 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman. But as he enters the Southern Conference Tournament, Parker finds himself atop the SoCon leader board in three-point percentage at .474 (36-76).
Parker has also settled in to UNCG's starting lineup. Playing as the point guard Parker has started the last 24 games, and recorded a career-high 10 assists in UNCG's loss at Miami.
Armstrong Named SoCon Player of the Week... Again
After waiting nearly four years for a SoCon player of the week, UNCG now has a weekly honoree in consecutive weeks.
UNCG's Derrell Armstrong has been named the Southern Conference Player of the Week for all games played January 24-30 the league office announced Tuesday. It is the second consecutive week Armstrong has won the award. The junior guard averaged 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists in two games last week as the Spartans picked up overtime wins over Appalachian State (77-73) and Western Carolina (89-86).
Armstrong scored 50 points in two games off the bench for the Spartans last week. He tallied a game-high 27 points in UNCG's win over Appalachian State on Thursday night. Armstrong scored 19 points in the second half and overtime against the Mountaineers and was 10-of-20 from the field.
The Mechanicsville, Md., native posted 21 of his 23 points in the second half and overtime against the Catamounts. The junior scored 12 of UNCG's 20 points in the extra frame. Armstrong added six rebounds, four assists, three seals and a blocked shot against WCU.
Spartans Picked Fourth in SoCon North
UNCG men's basketball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference North Division in 2011-12 according to a vote by league head coaches, the conference office announced in October.
Chattanooga and Davidson are the favorites to capture the Southern Conference's divisional men's basketball titles in 2011-12. Appalachian State senior guard Omar Carter was also named the SoCon Preseason Player of the Year as part of the preseason all-conference team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team or student-athletes as part of the balloting.
Dement begins the seventh season of his second tenure at UNCG and his 12th season overall with the Spartans looking to build upon last season's strong finish. After opening the year with a 0-15 mark, a team consisting of 11 first-and-second year players closed by winning seven of their final 16 games. The Spartans also won their opening game at the Southern Conference tournament before falling in the quarterfinals.
Southern Conference Tournament
The 2012 Southern Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments are right around the corner! Don't miss this opportunity to watch your team on the court and plan extra time for some "R&R" in the beautiful mountain city of Asheville, N.C. This event promises to be a tremendous experience for athletes, faculty, students, parents, alumni and fans. Buy your tickets today through your school or by visiting SoConTravel.com.
Spartans on TV
UNCG men's basketball will make seven appearances on national and regional television outlets during the 2011-12 season.
The Spartans will appear four times on Fox Sports South, beginning with the season opener at Tennessee on Nov. 11. Other FSN South appearances include games at Florida State (Dec. 11), at Duke (Dec. 19) and at Miami, Fla. (Jan. 2).
UNCG's game at Georgetown on Nov. 14 will appear on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), which serves seven states from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. MASN is available locally in the Piedmont Triad on DirecTV Ch. 640.
The Spartans' home game with 2011 Final Four participant VCU on Dec. 22 will be shown on ESPN3, while a Feb. 4 contest at Furman is part of the SoCon Sports Network's season-long television package. The SoCon Sports Network consists of CSS, UNC-TV and ESPN3.
Spartans on the Radio
UNCG men's basketball games will once again be broadcast on the Triad Sports Network for the 2011-12 season. Owned by Curtis Media Group, the Triad Sports Network is a trio of AM stations providing all sports programming with ESPN radio affiliation. UNCG will be utilizing 1320 WCOG-AM as its flagship station for the broadcasts. Additional coverage will be provided on a game-by-game availability through 1200 WSML-AM and 1230 WMFR-AM.
WSML-AM's signal is based out of Graham, N.C., while WMFR-AM is based out of High Point. WZTK-FM, Curtis' FM-talk station, has a 100,000-watt signal that broadcasts nearly statewide and into parts of Virginia and Tennessee.
About the Southern Conference
The Southern Conference, which began its 91st season of intercollegiate competition in 2011, is a national leader in emphasizing the development of the student-athlete and in helping to build lifelong leaders and role models.
The Southern Conference has been on the forefront of innovation and originality in developing creative solutions to address issues facing intercollegiate athletics. From establishing the first conference basketball tournament (1921), tackling the issue of freshmen eligibility (1922), developing women's championships (1984), to becoming the first conference to install the three-point goal in basketball (1980), the Southern Conference has been a pioneer.
The Southern Conference is the nation's fifth-oldest NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association. Only the Big Ten (1896), the Missouri Valley (1907), the Pacific 10 (1915) and the Southwestern Athletic (1920) conferences are older in terms of origination.