CAA Preview: Elon Phoenix

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By: Rachel Santo

Head Coach: Matt Matheny (9th season)

Last Season: 14-18 (6-12, 7th in CAA)

Losses:

  • F Brian Dawkins (12.2 ppg)
  • G Dmitri Thompson (12.3 ppg)
  • G/F Collin Luther (0.4 ppg)
  • F Jack Anton (1.2 ppg, )
  • F Jack George (1.3 ppg)

Newcomers:

The beginning of last season was full of hope for the Elon Phoenix, with all five starters returning and a projected third place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Ultimately, though, they could not live up to the hype, tying for last place in the regular season with a 6-12 conference record, and losing in the first round of the conference tournament.

This season, they’ll be missing two of their star players in F Brian Dawkins and G Dmitri Thompson. Dawkins had won Preseason All-CAA Second Team honors, and finished the season with 12.2 PPG and 5.4 RPG. Thompson, ranked 28th on Elon’s all-time scoring list, tallied 12.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG. The Phoenix also graduated Collin Luther, Jack Anton, and Jack George, who combined for 2.9 ppg.

With Dawkins and Thompson moving on to professional ball, it looks like Normal, Illinois native Tyler Seibring will have to have a better-than-normal season. After leading the team in points and rebounds per game (15.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg), all eyes are on the 6-foot-9 senior forward to lead the team to a winning season. His junior campaign brought him numerous honors, including being named to the All-CAA Second Team for the second consecutive year.

Two more returning starters are senior guards Dainan Swoope (12.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Steven Santa Ana (9.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg). Swoope has already carved his name in program history, ranking 35th in all-time scoring, 8th in three-pointers made, and is currently tied for 11th in career assists. Assuming he feels an added motivation to move up in the leader boards, you can expect Swoope to step up his offense.

Santa Ana also has history to make – he’s only 87 points away from the 1,000 point mark. He also had the third-highest 3-point percentage last season at 36.1%, improving from 32.7% in 2016-2017. If he can continue to increase this percentage, he’ll be on track to get those last 87 points quickly, and help lead his team to some wins.

The Phoenix are welcoming three freshmen to the squad this year, and with their not-so-experienced bench, there’s a shot these newcomers will get some decent playing time. Six-foot-six forward Chuck Hannah is “a prototypical Elon guy” according to Coach Matheny, and at 230 pounds, it seems like he’ll be able to hold his own against veteran CAA players. Summerfield, NC native Andy Pack, who has attended Elon’s summer camps throughout his early career, and Coach Matheny has deemed him a good fit as well. Kris Wooten, a 6-foot-3 guard, led his hometown high school to a state championship his freshman year before transferring to Arendell Parrott Academy.

Bottom Line: The good news is, there’s nowhere to go but up for the Elon Phoenix. If Seibring continues to take charge on offense and improves his defense, he has the ability to lead his team to a better record. And with veterans Swoope and Santa Ana continuing to improve, there is no doubt the Phoenix will be more competitive than last season. While you can’t expect this team to make a serious run at the conference title, they will get out of that last place position and move up to the middle of the pack.

 

 

 

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