Tennessee State Tigers
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #105
Conference Rank: #3 Ohio Valley
Tennessee State Team Page
Tennessee State was that team that knocked off Murray State last season. They almost did it again in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. But they fell two points shy and had to settle for a trip to the CIT, where they lost in the first round to eventual CIT champion Mercer. The Tigers return enough talent to give Murray State another run in the OVC, but things will be a little different without Coach John Cooper on the sidelines. Coach Cooper left to take the Miami (Ohio) job and now Travis Williams will take over the controls after roaming the Tigers sidelines as an assistant.
2011-12 Record: 20-13, 11-5
2011-12 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Travis Williams
Coach Record: First year at Tennessee State, 0-0 overall
The starting rotation at Tennessee State was never really settled during the 2011-2012 season. Departing senior Wil Peters was the only one to start all 33 games and his leadership will be missed. Peters did not do too much scoring during his senior season, but did dish out 3.5 assists per contest. Kenny Moore started five contests and did provide some versatility to the small forward position. The only other departing player is Muniru Bawa, who averaged just 4.1 minutes in 16 contests.
Tennessee State does not need much more depth, but they might get it anyway with incoming freshman Jordan Gaither and transfers Chaed Wellian and DeShawn Dockery. Gaither is a combo guard that could help replace Peters as a secondary ball handler and a scorer. Wellian is a versatile forward who can knock down some long range shots and stretch out the defense. He is capable of making an impact offensively right away. Dockery, a transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson, spent two years at FDU and will provide some experienced depth on the perimeter. Taylor Ward played in a couple games as a freshman before redshirting and will look to add even more perimeter depth.
Who to Watch:
This team will again be centered around forward Robert Covington. The 6-9 forward turned into a superb scorer last year and is a major threat both inside and out. After averaging 17.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks and connecting on 44.8 percent of his three-pointers, Covington has high expectations heading into his senior season. Covington and Tennessee State will rely on Kellen Thornton and M.J. Rhett to help out in the paint. Thornton is a good scorer and can knock down the mid-range jumper with consistency. However, Thornton will still use his 243 pound frame to bang around in the paint and do the dirty work so Covington is free to move around and do what he does best. Rhett, a 6-8 sophomore, is not much of a scorer, but he is a great rebounder and a decent defender. Thornton and Rhett are fine complimentary players to Covington and the frontcourt alone will make the Tigers a tough team in the OVC.
The backcourt is led by Patrick Miller, who has had a couple great seasons for TSU. He will need to take on a larger role now that Peters is gone, but Miller is a fine all-around scorer who can run the show effectively. The rest of the backcourt has a few more issues to work out. Jordan Cyphers is a quality outside shooter and an experienced senior. Cyphers is 6-4, but he is not much of a rebounder and that does become an issue when the Tigers want to play him at the small forward position. Kharon Butcher and Jay Harris had decent freshmen campaigns, but they only averaged about 12 minutes per game. If Tennessee State wants to take the next step, sophomores like Butcher and Harris have to step up and turn into more consistent contributors. Otherwise, this is a team that will struggle to compete with the likes of Murray State and new OVC member Belmont.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Patrick Miller, Junior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Jay Harris, Sophomore, Guard, 2.2 points per game
Jordan Cyphers, Senior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
M.J. Rhett, Sophomore, Forward, 3.9 points per game
Robert Covington, Senior, Forward, 17.8 points per game
Madness 2013 NBA Draft Rankings:
#51 Robert Covington