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Division II Power Rankings: Jan. 23, 2018

01/23/2018, 11:30am EST
By Josh Verlin

Dustin Sleva (above) and Shippensburg made a big leap in this week's D-II Super 7. (Photo: Tommy Smith/CoBL)

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

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One day delayed, here’s the updated CoBL Division II Super 7 for Jan. 23, 2018:
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Previous Rankings: Preseason (Nov. 7) | Nov. 21 | Dec. 5 | Dec. 20 | Jan. 8 |

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Others to Watch: Bloomsburg (10-7, 6-7 PSAC), Jefferson (12-9, 7-3 CACC), Lincoln (9-9, 1-1 CIAA)

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7. Wilmington Wildcats (Last Week: OTW)
Record: 11-9 (6-3 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Caldwell (L, 86-64), vs. Concordia (L, 91-87), vs. Jefferson (W, 79-61), vs. Nyack (W, 82-66)
Star Watch: Miles GIllette (Soph./F)
Update: Wilmington moves back into the rankings due in large part to an 18-point win over Jefferson at home; the Wildcats have now won four of their last six, while the Rams are 2-4 over that same stretch. Gillette, a 6-6 sophomore from Woodrow Wilson (D.C.), didn’t score a point in the first three games of the year and only four in the fourth, but he’s scored in 12 of the 15 games since, including three consecutive 20-plus point outings against Concordia (20), Jefferson (24) and Nyack (24). He’s now fourth on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg), hitting 35 percent of his 3-pointers and grabbing 7.7 rpg as well. Between Gillette and fellow sophomore Jermaine Head (17.6 ppg, 4.6 apg), Dan Burke has two high-level players to build around the next few years. Not that they can’t also make plenty of noise this year with seniors Nick Richards (19.9 ppg) and Shawn Church (13.1 ppg) in the mix as well.

Next Two Weeks: @ Holy Family (Jan. 24, 8 PM),vs. Felician (Jan. 27, 3 PM), @ USciences (Jan. 30, 8 PM), vs. Bloomfield (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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6. University of the Sciences Devils (5)
Record: 11-7 (7-3 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Bloomfield (L, 81-64), vs. Dominican (L, 58-56), vs. Holy Family (W, 72-71), @ Felician (W, 67-62)
Star Watch: Flo Da-Silva (Sr./G)
Update: While Bloomfield sits atop the CACC North with a 10-0 league record, the CACC South is a much tougher picture to figure out. Currently, USciences sits in “first,” though the Devils are tied with Goldey and Jefferson with three losses, and Wilmington is just one game behind. That’ll make for an exciting closing month of the season, though all four can make the playoffs; the big prize, home-court advantage, goes to the top two seeds on in the first round on Feb. 27. The Devils dropped their first two games these last two weeks, but to the top two teams in the North division, with a combined record of 28-8 (17-2), so nothing too shameful there, and they bounced back with two victories, and have won eight of their last 12 games overall. Da-Silva, a 6-2 guard, had some monster games, going for 23 points and 15 rebounds (plus four steals) against Dominican plus 21 points, 13 boards, four assists and four steals against Felician; senior forward Will Gregorits had 20 and 10 against Dominican.

Next Two Weeks: @ Georgian Court (Jan. 24, 8 PM), vs. Caldwell (Jan. 27, 3 PM), vs. Wilmington (Jan. 30, 8 PM), @ Concordia (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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5. Goldey-Beacom Lightning (6)
Record: 11-8 (7-3 CACC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Felician (W, 80-67), vs. Bloomfield (L, 95-88), vs. Georgian Court (W, 75-65), @ Caldwell (W, 85-76)
Star Watch: Corey Taite (Jr./G)
Update: T.J. Dekmar’s Lightning have been the hottest team in the CACC South over the last month, winning seven of their past nine games (six of eight in league play) to move up into a tie for first with USci and Jefferson. They’re benefitting from absolutely stellar play from Taite, a 5-11 guard from Sayreville (N.J.) and the team’s leading scorer (19.5 ppg) and passer (3.6 apg). His best effort these last two weeks was either a 20-point, eight-rebound, nine-assist, one-turnover outing against Bloomfield, or perhaps a 24-point, five-assist game against Georgian Court...or maybe a 25-point outing on 9-of-14 shooting against Felician. If he keeps that up, and Lightning senior forward Dante Thompson (11.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg) continues to be solid, Goldey could keep piling up the wins.
Next Two Weeks: @ Post (Jan. 27, 3 PM), vs. Chestnut Hill (Jan. 30, 8 PM), vs. Nyack (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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4. Kutztown Golden Bears (2)
Record: 13-3 (9-3 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Mansfield (W, 92-90), @ Millersville (W, 87-77), @ Cheyney (W, 85-49), @ East Stroudsburg (L, 101-95)
Star Watch: Rafiq Marshall (Sr./G)
Update: It does seem a little harsh to have Kutztown fourth, as the Bears are having a terrific season, but two of their three losses are to teams above them -- and they haven’t played Shippensburg yet. Marshall, a hard-nosed Philly guard out of Simon Gratz, delivered the win over Mansfield with a game-winning layup at the buzzer, capping off a 22-point effort, his highest outing of the year; he also chipped in 12 against Millersville and 14 against Cheyney. Senior guard Ethan Ridgeway carried the load against ESU, scoring 32 points, though he did have 10 turnovers, a problem for the team this week; KU turned it over 23 times against Millersville, 17 of which were by Ridgeway and junior guard Anthony Lee. They’ll have to clean that problem up to win the championship.

Next Two Weeks: vs. Lock Haven (Jan. 24, 7:30 PM), @ Shippensburg (Jan. 27, 3 PM), @ Bloomsburg (Jan. 31, 7:30 PM), vs. West Chester (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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3. East Stroudsburg Warriors (3)
Record: 12-4 (9-3 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Indiana (Pa.) (W, 85-82), vs. Bloomsburg (W, 98-62), @ West Chester (L, 76-74), vs. Kutztown (W, 101-95)
Star Watch: Steve Harris (Sr./F)
Update: There’s no denying that things have been a little shaky of late for ESU, which won its first seven games of the season but is only 5-4 in the nine games since, though the last two weeks went decently well for the Warriors; if not for the win over Kutztown over the weekend, ESU would certainly have dropped several slots. Then again, if West Chester junior Frank Rokins’ chase-down block at the buzzer had been ruled goaltending, and ESU had been able to beat WCU in overtime, they would be in the top two. That’s how crazy things are in the PSAC East right now, and there’s no denying that ESU has had a rough stretch this last month, avoiding any teams in the bottom half of either division. They get that these two weeks with games against the Marauders (6-13, 4-9) and Wolves (2-14, 2-10), but then follow that up with trips to Ship and Mansfield.

Next Two Weeks: @ Millersville (Jan. 24, 7:30 PM), vs. Cheyney (Jan. 27, 3 PM), @ Shippensburg (Jan. 31, 8 PM), @ Mansfield (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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2. West Chester Rams (1)
Record: 15-2 (11-2 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Bloomsburg (L, 98-90), @ Cheyney (W, 99-51), @ Lock Haven (W, 86-77), vs. East Stroudsburg (W, 76-74), @ Shippensburg (L, 93-83)
Star Watch: Tyrell Long (Sr./SF)
Update: For the first time since Dec. 5, someone other than West Chester occupies the top spot in the rankings, as the Rams took a pair of losses these last two weeks, their first two defeats of the year. WCU, which had prided itself on terrific defense this season, had issues with both Bloom and Ship, who became the first two teams to get to the 90-point mark against the Rams this season. This was bound to happen at some point; as good as WCU is, Damien Blair’s squad wasn’t quite good enough to run the table in a strong PSAC East, but it’s now about how they respond. The return game against Bloomsburg comes up on Saturday, and then they have to travel to Kutztown a week after that to taken on a Golden Bears squad seething for revenge from a six-point loss at Hollinger Field House on Dec. 30. Long (19.2 ppg, 7.1) and junior wing Jackson Hyland (16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) continue to be the main bucket-getters.

Next Two Weeks: @ Pitt-Johnstown (Jan. 24, 3 PM), vs. Bloomsburg (Jan. 27, 3 PM), vs. Millersville (Jan. 31, 7 PM), @ Kutztown (Feb. 3, 3 PM)

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1. Shippensburg Raiders (4)
Record: 13-3 (9-2 PSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Lock Haven (W, 92-75), vs. Cheyney (W, 84-50), @ Mansfield (W, 79-60), vs. West Chester (W, 93-83)
Star Watch: Dustin Sleva (Sr./F)
Update: After suffering two losses in November, Shippensburg has been near unstoppable since, winning 10 of its last 11 games, the only setback a loss at East Stroudsburg on Jan. 3. The Raiders should have played at Kutztown this past two weeks as well, but that game was snowed out and rescheduled for Mon., Feb. 12. Sleva, a 6-8 forward out of Montour (Pa.) and an All-American candidate (22.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg), had his fourth and fifth 30-plus-point outings of the season, going for 34 against LHU and 31 against WCU; on the season, he’s hitting 55 percent of his shots and 42 percent of his 3-point attempts, and also has more assists (47) than turnovers (37). But Chris Fite’s Raiders have some balance, too; nobody scored more than 14 in the win over Cheyney, with eight players chipping in five points or more. Tough two weeks coming up, with a trip to an improving Bloomsburg before hosting two other PSAC contenders in KU and ESU.

Next Two Weeks: @ Bloomsburg (Jan. 24, 7:30 PM), vs. Kutztown (Jan. 27, 3 PM), vs. East Stroudsburg (Jan. 31, 8 PM), @ Mercyhurst (Feb. 3, 5 PM)

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