#125 Northwestern State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Northwestern State Demons

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #125
Conference Rank: #2 Southland

Northwestern State Team Page#125 Northwestern State Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Northwestern State Basketball Tickets

Northwestern State has one of the most explosive and entertaining offenses in the country. Their 84.0 points per game last year was the most in Division I basketball. With five of their top six scorers returning, this should again be the best scoring offense in the nation. Slightly over half of the scoring was done by Zeek Woodley and Jalan West. Those two will once again be among the best scorers in the country. Woodley, a 6-2 junior, averaged 22.2 points per game in 2014-2015. He is not the most prolific outside shooter, although he can knock down the long ball, but most of his scoring happens by attacking the basket. Woodley shot 56.0 percent from the floor last year and that is absolutely amazing for a 6-2 guard who spends some time on the perimeter and took 468 shots during the season. West, who averaged 20.0 points during his junior year, is also the point guard. On top his amazing three-point shooting, he dished out 7.7 assists.

2014-15 Record: 19-13, 13-5
2014-15 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Mike McConathy
Coach Record: 259-240 at Northwestern State, 259-240 overall

Who’s Out:
The most significant departure is 6-8 center Marvin Frazier. He missed quite a bit time at the end of last season, but he did average 8.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game when he was on the floor. Offensively Frazier was not opposed to stepping outside, but he was as close as this team got to an interior defensive playmaker. The frontcourt also lost Ryan King and Deji Adekunle. King averaged 10.8 minutes per game in 22 contests, while Adekunle provided a few minutes off the bench late in the season, especially when Frazier was out. The lone loss in the backcourt is Tony Dobbinson. The junior college transfer averaged 5.5 points per game during his one season with the Demons.

Who’s In:
Coach Mike McConathy clearly went for size in this class by adding incoming freshmen Ishamel Lane and Colby Koontz and junior college transfer Levi Yancy to the roster. Much is often made of big men at this level being raw offensively coming out of high school. For Northwestern State right now that is not that big of an issue. The Demons need big bodies that can help on the glass and play defense. Surely in this offense they will get some opportunities to score, but if their offense is behind their defense, West and Woodley will be more than happy to take a couple extra shots. Lane and Koontz are both traditional big men, but it is Koontz at 6-9 and 235 pounds who has the potential to make a big impact right away. He is a nice fit in the offense and can step outside and knock down shots. Yancy, at 6-8 and 190 pounds, is not a post player. However, this team does need bigger players who can also handle the ball like a guard. Yancy fits that mold. His versatility will give NSU options, but he will spend most of his time at the four and five spots when Coach McConathy wants to play bigger than a four guard lineup and still have somebody who can get up and down the floor in a hurry. Freshmen guards Cody Cambre and Malik Metoyer will struggle to find minutes right away. Metoyer is a long, 6-6 wing and that size will be important for Northwestern State, whether it be this year or down the road.

Who to Watch:
Almost all of the headlines will be about West and Woodley, and rightfully so, but the play of the rest of the team will determine if this group can make it to the NCAA Tournament. Guards Sabri Thompson, Tra’von Joseph, Ta’Jon Welcome and Devonte Hall all started at least a few games last season. Behind West and Woodley, Thompson was the most prolific scorer and three-point shooter on the team, averaging 7.1 points per game and knocking down 36 three-pointers on the year. Joseph, a 6-5 junior, did a lot of work on the glass and often plays the four spot in the four guard lineup. He is not much of a shooter, yet Joseph will attack the basket effectively. Welcome played well in his 15.8 minutes per game during his first year with Northwestern State after playing in the juco ranks. A year in the system and he should be more productive. However, his minutes could continue to decrease if he doesn’t find his outside stroke after shooting just 27.2 percent from long range in 2014-2015. With tough defense and steady ball handling, Hall managed to average 20.0 minutes per game as a freshman. He was a pleasant surprise and will continue to see plenty of playing time even if he leaves the scoring to others.

Final Projection:
The backcourt is loaded and West and Woodley will earn some accolades again this year, but it is the versatility of the frontcourt that makes this team different than a year ago. Last season Matt Killian was forced into a lot of action. At 6-5 and 190 pounds, he does not have the ideal size for a forward. He is back and will continue to play tough on the glass and defensively. However, with the return of Reginald Kissoonlal, a 6-11 wing who played in ten games last year as a freshman before redshirting, and the addition of versatile forwards like Koontz and Yancy, Northwestern State does not have to be a tiny team. Nor do they have to be a “normal” size team that cannot get up and down the floor. These big guys can run and that is what Northwestern State does. All of those options will allow Coach McConathy to get good matchups on the floor and keep his forwards fresh so they can keep up with West, Woodley and company.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Jalan West, Senior, Guard, 20.0 points per game
Zeek Woodley, Junior, Guard, 22.2 points per game
Ta’Jon Welcome, Senior, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Tra’von Joseph, Junior, Guard, 6.0 points per game
Matt Killian, Senior, Forward, 4.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 84.0 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 83.0 (345, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.1 (60, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 47.3 (333, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.3 (25, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.7 (111, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.9 (19, 1)
Rebound Margin: -5.7 (331, 11)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (14, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.3 (147, 2)


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