Team preview: Winthrop

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

In June, Gregg Marshall, one of the hottest young coaching properties in the college game today, was all set to return to the College of Charleston, where he had learned much about the game as an assistant under legendary John Kresse.

With six NCAA Tournament appearances in eight seasons as the coach at previously unheralded Winthrop, Marshall had become a proven commodity and his chance to move up the coaching ladder was overdue. But a funny thing happened on the way back from the Charleston press conference announcing his hiring.

"I didn't realize how tough it was going to be to tell the team and certain individuals here," Marshall said. "I've never done anything like this. We've established deep roots here."

Marshall had second thoughts about leaving Winthrop. His hiring was just bad timing -- late to set about building a basketball program, much less moving a young family and leaving a place that had become home. Mentally, he was already into next season after an international tour early this summer to New Zealand.

So, with Marshall's decision to return to Rock Hill, pencil Winthrop back in as the Big South favorite and stencil that large target on the Eagles' back. While the rest of the league is making strides to catch up, at least on paper, this doesn't look like the year the Eagles' flight plans will be altered.