Team preview: UNC Asheville

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

There aren't many things you can count on in the world any more, but here's one of them: UNC Asheville will be in the thick of the Big South Conference race no matter its early season record.

Ninth-year coach Eddie Biedenbach is one of the best bench coaches in the conference and this year he has one of his most veteran groups, a squad that technically includes seven returning starters. While Biedenbach jokes he has seven second-team all-conference players, he's not far from the truth.

The Bulldogs don't have that go-to star they've had in the past in Andre Smith or Josh Pittman or Kevin Martin, but they've got a roster full of players who know their roles and know how not to beat themselves.

That's not to say they won't get beaten. Biedenbach's non-conference schedule is annually the toughest in the league and this year includes games at North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina State and Charlotte. The Bulldogs take their lumps, keep improving and most importantly at UNCA, fill the athletic coffers with money from these "guarantee games," keeping the whole athletic program solvent.

And while UNCA may not have the talent to match up with the big boys night-in and night-out, this year it certainly has the size. The Bulldogs have five players 6-8 or taller and all of them will play.

"The problem that I see with this team is we're too big," Biedenbach said. "We don't have those 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 guys in reserve if we have injuries.