Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Post Season

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Sun Belt Conference (21-13, 12-6)

Seed: #


Big Wins: 12/11 vs Vanderbilt (76-69), 12/22 Murray State (83-72), 1/4 Mississippi State (55-52)

Bad Losses: 11/17 at LSU (60-71), 1/18 at MTSU (46-47), 2/4 at Louisiana Monroe (66-67)

Coach: Ken McDonald


Why They Can Surprise:

It is no coincidence that when Western Kentucky went on a five game losing streak in late January it was when Sergio Kerusch was out of the lineup. Kerusch is a small forward, but it is his efforts that have turned the Hilltoppers perimeter shooting into something special. Kerusch hits 1.9 three-pointers per game and averages an impressive 14.2 points. He is even a superb rebounder and leads the team with 7.2 per contest. Kerusch was not the only player who made great strides later in the year. Big man Jeremy Evans has developed into a much more consistent scoring threat under the basket and is a force on the defensive end.


Evans is the only shot blocking threat on the team, but WKU does not lack in productive forwards. Starting forward Steffphone Pettigrew is only 6-5, but he is a great athlete who can finish above the rim with ease. His ability to step outside and hit the long ball makes him very difficult to defend. When Coach Ken McDonald needs more size on the floor, or Evans needs a much needed break, Cliff Dixon is his man. The 6-10 junior will not do much scoring, but he is a solid rebounder.


Why They Can Disappoint:

Western Kentucky has had to shuffle around their backcourt quite a bit. Outside of A.J. Slaughter, there is not really a great experienced guard on this team. The superb teams of WKU past have been full of great guards, but that is not the case this season. Caden Dickerson, a 6-4 freshman, will be a good one in a few years, but he has been inconsistent this season. Another freshman, Jamal Crook, was forced into starting duty when Kerusch was out, but he has not had much of an impact. The obvious answer to the departure of Orlando Mendez-Valdez after the 2008-2009 campaign was Anthony Sally. The 6-2 senior has had an up and down season, but he is a decent passer and much better rebounder than one would expect from a 6-2 guard.


Who To Watch:

When Sally is on the floor, Slaughter can play off the ball. And since he is the team’s most dynamic scorer, it is never a bad thing to let him work off screens and find space to shoot. Slaughter is a prolific outside shooter, but he will use his 6-3 frame to attack the basket as well. When WKU needs a bucket, Slaughter can make it happen. He easily leads the team with 17.5 points and 4.3 assists, so he can obviously handle the ball himself. Yet, the offense can be a little stagnant if Slaughter feels like he has to make something happen and that is why Sally needs to be productive in order for Slaughter to be at his best.


Probable Starters:

Anthony Sally, Senior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 2.8 apg

A.J. Slaughter, Senior, Guard, 17.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 1.6 spg

Sergio Kerusch, Junior, Forward, 14.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg

Steffphon Pettigrew, Junior, Forward, 14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg

Jeremy Evans, Senior, Forward, 10.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 rpg


Key Roleplayers:

Jamal Crook, Freshman, Guard, 2.2 ppg, 1.6 apg

Caden Dickerson, Freshman, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 1.0 apg

Cliff Dixon, Junior, Center, 4.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg


By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 71.9 (106th in nation, 4th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 67.1 (151, 5)

Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (68, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 44.8 (258, 9)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (107, 4)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.5 (153, 9)

Free-Throw Percentage: 71.2 (100, 5)

Rebound Margin: 2.6 (95, 3)

Assists Per Game: 12.8 (187, 5)

Turnovers Per Game: 13.0 (111, 4)


Joel’s Bracket Says: