#110 Louisiana-Monroe Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #110
Conference Rank: #3 Sun Belt

Louisiana-Monroe Team Page#110 Louisiana-Monroe Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Louisiana-Monroe Basketball Tickets

Louisiana-Monroe’s slump appears to have come to an end. After boasting a successful program in the 1990’s, the Warhawks fell on hard times. Their 24 wins last year matched their four previous seasons win total. ULM may have been behind Georgia State and Georgia Southern in last year’s Sun Belt pecking order, but Coach Keith Richard finally has his team heading in the right direction. The tough conference tournament semifinal loss to Georgia Southern did not discourage his team though and the Warhawks made a nice run to the CBI championship series, where they lost to Loyola (IL). That momentum and the return of four starters have hopes high in Monroe.

2014-15 Record: 24-14, 14-6
2014-15 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Keith Richard
Coach Record: 48-104 at Louisiana-Monroe, 194-226 overall

Who’s Out:
However, the one starter lost is Tylor Ongwae. The 6-7 forward averaged 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists during his senior season. Ongwae was clearly the team’s go-to-scorer heading into the 2014-2015 season and he did not disappoint. When the ball was working through Ongwae, the offense was surprisingly efficient and effective. Marvin Williams was a regular starter during his senior season until his nagging shoulder injury became too much. The 6-8 center was averaging 8.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, but did not play at all during February or March. Chinedu Amajoyi only averaged 7.0 minutes per game during his senior season after starting 14 games in 2013-2014. That just goes to show how much new talent Coach Richard found on his roster last season.

Who’s In:
And the boost of talent continues with five newcomers who will compete for major playing time. The frontcourt adds redshirt freshman Roderick Taylor and power forward Ramses Sandifer. Sandifer is a great fit for Coach Richard. He is a big 6-7, 205 pounder who can step outside and knock down shots. But Sandifer will use that size to mix it up in the paint too, especially on the glass. Travis Munnings and Wade Martin will add size on the wing. Munnings has the versatility and the defensive effort needed to find a role as a freshman. He may not do a lot of scoring right away, but he will do plenty of other things. The final piece of the class is junior college transfer Marcus Washington. He should at least be a solid shooter off of the bench right away.

Who to Watch:
Even with the departure of Ongwae, Louisiana-Monroe boasts a talented frontcourt. Majok Deng, a 6-10 senior, will be the new leader of the team after averaging 10.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 2014-2015. At a mere 185 pounds, Deng is not going to beat opponents with his physicality, but he still finds plenty of ways to score and be effective on the glass. One of the ways he scores is by shooting. Deng connected on 34.5 percent of his attempts from long range and was second on the team with 41 made three-pointers. That is impressive for a player who is also productive on the other end of the floor. Jamaal Samuel stepped into the starting lineup when Williams was lost and figures to do the same this year. The 6-9, 195 pound senior averaged 7.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. DeMondre Harvey showed some flashes last year of what could be this season. The 6-7 senior averaged just 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds, but when he was given the opportunity, he took full advantage. Harvey only scored in double figures three times, but in all three of those games he recorded a double-double, including an 11 point, 10 rebound effort against South Alabama in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament.

Final Projection:
This team will not be quite as frontcourt heavy in 2014-2015 so more could be asked of Nick Coppola and Justin Roberson. Those two combined to dish out 6.5 assists per game and were a huge reason for the massive improvement in turnovers. Coppola is also the team’s most prolific and consistent outside shooter. Roberson never found his shot during his junior year, but still averaged 8.9 points per game and spearheads the defensive effort on the perimeter. If ULM starts a smaller lineup this year, senior Mack Foster could get the call. He was a shooter off of the bench last year, but hit just 29.5 percent of his three-point attempts. However, it may be tough for Coach Richard to start Deng, Samuel and Harvey if the freshmen are not ready to provide major minutes off of the bench right away. Thus, a smaller lineup might be the only option and somebody like Foster will need to step up if Louisiana-Monroe wants to seriously compete for a Sun Belt title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Nick Coppola, Junior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Justin Roberson, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Mack Foster, Senior, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Jamaal Samuel, Senior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Majok Deng, Senior, Forward, 10.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.6 (241st in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.5 (38, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.7 (213, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.8 (14, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.1 (293, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.3 (314, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (97, 2)
Rebound Margin: 3.2 (73, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (137, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (80, 3)


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