Texas Southern Tigers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #135
Conference Rank: #1 SWAC
Texas Southern dominated the SWAC last year, going 16-2 in conference play. But when it mattered the most, the Tigers fell to Southern in the SWAC Tournament and were relegated to the NIT. Once there, they ran into Valparaiso and their season ended with two disappointing losses after winning 17 of their previous 19 games. This time around Coach Mike Davis’ team will look a lot different with six of their top seven scorers gone, but this is a program that reloads. The key for Texas Southern will be the play and leadership of forward Derrick Griffin. Once football season ends, the wide receiver should come back to the hardwood to dominate the SWAC. As a freshman last season, Griffin recorded 17 double-doubles, including a SWAC record 12 in a row. In 27 games, Griffin averaged 13.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He is the force that will keep the Tigers atop the SWAC.
2015-16 Record: 18-15, 16-2
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Mike Davis
Coach Record: 76-57 at Texas Southern, 313-208 overall
There is a lot of talent lost though, including leading scorers Chris Thomas and Malcolm Riley. Thomas did everything for the Tigers, averaging 15.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Riley was the team’s most prolific outside shooter and was right behind Thomas with 14.9 points per game. David Blanks struggled with his shot during his senior season, but still averaged 10.1 points and 4.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. He did not need to score to make a huge impact on the team. Orlando Coleman was a regular starter too and Jose Rodriguez was a very dangerous shooter off of the bench. Jermaine Davis II, Joshua Friar and Dewayne Washington saw limited action. This is a team that lost a ton of experience and that is never a good thing.
Texas Southern will rely very, very heavily on their big group of newcomers. But it is a talented group that includes five transfers who are ready to contribute right away. Dulani Robinson spent some time at the junior college ranks and at Pacific before landing at Texas Southern. The 5-9 combo guard averaged 9.1 points and a team high 2.5 assists during his lone season with the Tigers. Jalan McCloud is better utilized off of the ball, but he can handle the point too. At highly respected Blinn College, McCloud averaged 11.7 points per game and proved to be a dangerous outside shooter. The backcourt also adds Zach Lofton, a 5-10 senior who spent time at San Jacinto College, Illinois State and Minnesota. If he can remain focused and out of trouble, Lofton could be a huge get for the Tigers. Jamie Rutherford, a 6-8 forward, comes from Dodge City Community College and Marvin Jones, a 7-0 foot graduate transfer from Kent State, heads to Texas Southern. Jones averaged just 8.8 minutes per game during his lone season with Kent State, but he was a highly productive player at the junior college ranks and should play a big role in the frontcourt. Incoming freshmen Damontrae Jefferson, Cainan McClelland, Aaron Campbell and Kevin Granger will all battle for quality minutes too.
Who to Watch:
Not all of the production has to come from the new players. Tyree Bynum, Brian Carey and Jerron Martin all averaged double digit minutes last season. Bynum, a 5-10 junior, is the best shooter of the bunch. He knocked down 39.5 percent of his limited three-point attempts and could turn into a big time scorer now that there are more shots to go around. Carey will have to fight for minutes at the point guard spot with Robinson. At the least, Carey is a promising young backup who can move into a starting spot in the future. Martin is another capable shooter although he has not been particularly consistent.
Texas Southern has proven time and time again that they can rebuild and still dominate the SWAC. With Griffin and a few players who were stuck down the rotation coming back, Coach Davis has a nice nucleus to build around. And of course Coach Davis always brings in some great talent from the junior college and high school ranks. Do not be surprised if that group includes another player like Griffin who takes the conference by storm. And by the time Griffin comes back for conference play, Texas Southern will have a very dangerous team that has the talent to win yet another SWAC regular season title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Dulani Robinson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Tyree Bynum, Junior, Guard, 3.4 points per game
Jerron Martin, Junior, Guard, 3.1 points per game
Zach Lofton, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Marvin Jones, Senior, Center, 1.7 points per game (at Kent State)
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.8 (181st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.6 (143, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (78, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (195, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (201, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.8 (221, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.1 (339, 9)
Rebound Margin: 5.1 (41, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (109, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (222, 5)