Team preview: Appalachian State

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 326 Division I teams. To order the complete 2006-07 edition of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

An injury-riddled team is healthy and deeper than last year. Led by all-conference point guard D.J. Thompson (19.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Appalachian State is hoping to take another leap above .500 and into the SoCon Tournament championship game.

"D.J., he's our guy," coach Houston Fancher said. "I think he's got a good supporting cast. If the stars are aligned right, it could be a good year for us."

It certainly could. Although Appalachian State hasn't been established among the league's elite for a few years, the Mountaineers have been dangerous, a hit-and-miss team usually not far from good things.

Last season was dragged down by injuries, so the squad's near-.500 record and narrow semifinal loss to defending league champion Chattanooga -- set up by a stunning quarterfinal upset of Georgia Southern -- wasn't such a bad showing. One starter was dismissed before the season began; another key player, guard Ryann Abraham, broke his foot and missed the whole year, and then three more starters missed significant time because of injuries or were plagued by other problems.

"The first two games and the last three games were the only ones where we had everybody," Fancher said. "It was tough. The good thing was we did get a lot of experience for some new kids, and that will make them better this year."