Texas Southern Tigers
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #143
Conference Rank: #1 SWAC
Texas Southern Team Page
Texas Southern returns their top five scorers from a year ago and should be ready to again compete for a SWAC title. A demoralizing loss to Mississippi Valley State kept the Tigers out of the NCAA Tournament, but this time around things should be different. Guard Omar Strong and forward Fred Sturdivant create a superb inside-outside senior duo. Strong knocked down over three three-pointers per game last season and, at 13.3 points per game, was the only Tiger to average double figures in scoring. Sturdivant was not too far behind at 9.1 points per contest and his presence in the paint will again allow Strong to get open looks on the perimeter.
2011-12 Record: 15-18, 12-6
2011-12 Postseason: none
Coach: Tony Harvey
Coach Record: 58-72 at Texas Southern, 58-72 overall
Coach Tony Harvey does have to replace two regular starters, but this is a squad that started 11 different players last season. Seven of them are back, so filling in the holes should not be an issue. The former senior leadership of Timothy Price and D’Angelo Scott will easily be replaced by Strong and Sturdivant. Those two forwards were not big scorers and really did not play starter minutes anyway. DaQuan Joyner was a nice piece off of the bench and averaged 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Daniel King was yet another forward who came in off of the bench and provided a presence on the defensive end. The players who are gone are all big guys, so Coach Harvey may run into some depth issues in the frontcourt.
Junior college transfer Myron Respress will help out on the glass. He may not score a ton of points or even sniff the starting lineup right away, but he can certainly emerge as a rebounder and shot blocker this season. Mike Craig will add a little more depth to the frontcourt, but he is more of a big wing than a true forward. The more immediate help will come from junior college transfer Tre Bowman. The shooting guard has some competition in the backcourt, but he could make a big impact for the Tigers. Speaking of big impacts, former Oklahoma State player Ray Penn is expected to suit up for the Tigers this season. Penn was a big time recruit back in 2009 and will immediately bolster the Texas Southern backcourt and take over this team.
Who to Watch:
Strong and Sturdivant will be the leaders of the Tigers, but they will have plenty of help. The backcourt is loaded with experience with Madarious Gibbs, Dexter Ellington, Lawrence Johnson-Danner, Jabari Peters and Patrick Onwenu leading the way. The starting job is up for grabs at this point, but it was Ellington who nabbed 24 starts last season. Ellington is not a strong rebounder, but he is a solid defender and that is just as important for the Tigers. Ellington also has the potential to hit the long ball. Gibbs is more of a point guard than a shooting guard, but his defensive intensity makes him an interesting option and he was third on the team with 6.7 points per game as a freshman and is only going to get better. Johnson-Danner took a small step back as a sophomore after a very good freshman campaign. Eventually he turned into a shooter off of the bench, but his shot was usually not falling. If he can get past his sophomore shooting slump, it will be tough to keep Johnson-Danner off of the floor.
Texas Southern has more talent than they know what to do with in the backcourt. The frontcourt has Sturdivant and Aaron Clayborn. Clayborn started 27 games during the 2011-2012 campaign so he will team up nicely with Studivant. Clayborn is not a scorer, but he will do the dirty work and hit the glass hard. The Tigers win games with their defense, so the lack of proven depth up front could become an issue. This is a team that may have to play small at times and the frontcourt is already lacking in size with Sturdivant standing 6-7 and Clayborn 6-6. But in the SWAC that is enough size and the newcomers should be able to provide enough depth. This may not be a group that can win many non-conference games, but they could dominate the SWAC just like Mississippi Valley State did last season…and then get their revenge.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ray Penn, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Omar Strong, Senior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Dexter Ellington, Senior, Guard, 6.4 points per game
Aaron Clayborn, Junior, Forward, 4.2 points per game
Fred Sturdivant, Senior, Forward, 9.1 points per game