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  • Writer's pictureTimothy LaDuca

In Search of Staying Power: Hot Starts in Division II

The 2021-22 Division II men’s basketball season is underway and it is, of course, already time to overreact.

Fans, teams, schools, and players can look at the leaderboard and make gross assumptions that the points leaders after two games are going to run away with the conference-scoring title.

While so much can — and will — change after two games of out-of-conference competition, we are still going to join the collective D-II community and overreact about the leaderboard.

What separates us from the rest is that we will try and gauge if these stats are sustainable throughout the season. Without further ado, here is a look at six conferences with the highest scorers after two games.

Patrick Cartier, Hillsdale, Great Midwest, 32.0 ppg

Cartier dropped 34 in the season opener for the Chargers and followed that with 30. Both 30-pieces came on the road in wins. For good measure, Cartier poured in 21 against Division-I Toledo during an exhibition.

Will Cartier average 30 this season? No. He reached that mark twice in his sophomore season last year.

Can Cartier lead DII in scoring? Yes. The junior forward rolled up the accolades last year with All-American honors, G-MAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year.

He has led the Chargers to unseen program success and if he keeps shooting 70 percent from the floor, he’ll certainly lead the country in scoring.

Tray Croft, Wisconsin-Parkside, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, 31.0 ppg

Croft shined in the season opener for the Rangers, hanging 36 on Lindenwood. He grabbed 26 more the next day against Illinois-Springfield. A 10-10 performance from the free-throw line was the difference in the first game. He got to 26 in a different way the next game, sinking five 3-pointers.

Croft can obviously score in many different ways and has not missed a free throw yet. He also has the hot hand from three at 58%. Expect Croft to cool down a bit, but do not be surprised if Croft is the best all-around shooter in the conference this year.

Jacoby Ross, Lindenwood, Great Lakes Valley Conference, 28.0 ppg

Ross dropped 21 against Parkside, but could not keep pace with the torrid Croft. Ross’ Lion pride fell to Ross’ Rangers squad despite 21 from the Lindenwood senior. Ross and the Lions bounced back the next day as he dropped 35 on Kentucky Wesleyan.

Ross was incredibly efficient despite not being the only feature player. He scored 42% of Lindenwood’s points while only taking 23% of the team’s shots.

Ross will not keep this pace up if his teammate, Kevin Caldwell, Jr., also takes 15 shots per contest. Caldwell Jr. went 0-8 from deep so when he turns it on, Ross will share more of the scoring output and will not lead the conference in scoring.

Ross came to Lindenwood after graduating from D-I Alabama State in three years and also playing a season at Alcorn State. The former Southwest Conference Rookie of the Year will still be a player to watch.

Wayne Arnold, Concordia, PacWest Conference, 28.0 ppg

Arnold, another D-I transfer, comes to Irvine, Calif., by way of Cal State-Fullerton. Arnold sank 24 in the season opener and then grabbed 32 in a 34-point win over Cal State-Los Angeles. He almost literally was the difference in the win for the Eagles.

Arnold joins a young team where Mac Stodart led the squad in scoring last season as a freshman. Arnold will have plenty of opportunities to drop 30 and average near the top of the league in scoring.

With a young, one-win team from last season around him, the Compton product will find it hard to lead the PacWest in points.

Glen Abram, West Virginia State, Mountain East, 28.0 ppg

Abram’s favorite quote, according to WVSU’s website, is, “If I walk by myself, at least I know I'm with somebody I can trust."

After scoring 38% of the team’s 93 points in the season opener, Abram’s quote rings true. He was 9-of-19 from the floor and 4-of-12 from three, clearly getting a bulk of the work for WVSU. He only missed one time from the line in 14 trips during his 35-point performance. He missed just one free throw in his next game; this time shooting 1-2 from the line in a 21-point showing against Shaw.

He did not lead the team in scoring during the squad’s second win. Abram is poised to take over a few games, but will not lead the Mountain East in scoring.

Isaiah Moore, Franklin Pierce, North East-10, 28.0 ppg

Rounding out the list is an unconventional junior guard. Moore grabbed 31 points in the season opener with only one 3-pointer. A common trend, he has been awesome from the free-throw line thus far and is uber-efficient (64%) from the floor. Moore did not get a season last year, but flashed big-game potential as an underclassman. Without the three in his game, it will be hard to lead the NE10 in scoring, but he’ll lead a Franklin Pierce squad that lost both leading scorers from the last full season.

Honorable mention

More than six guys have impressed so far this season. It would be a shame to leave out Walt Kelser, one of three players averaging 30 points this year. He poured in 20 points during the season opener but hung 40 on Drury (Mo.). Shawndale Jones is a guy to watch at Indiana-Pennsylvania and could be the player of the year.

Anderson has two players leading the South Atlantic Conference in scoring. Parker Dortch leads the way with 24 per game after transferring from D-I Loyola Marymount. Quin Nottingham has 23 a game right now. Keep an eye on the Trojans ... they upended second-ranked Flagler to start the season.

Alright, catch your breath, but this season looks to be a fun one with all the talent getting buckets so far. Some trends we can gauge here is that guys that score a lot get a lot of points from the line and DI transfers have success at the DII level.

Also, players do not need the 3-point line to get all their points. Cartier and Moore appeared on this list despite only making three shots from downtown between their four games.

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