#81 Louisiana Tech Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #81
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA

Louisiana Tech Team Page#81 Louisiana Tech Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Louisiana Tech Basketball Tickets

Louisiana Tech put together another great season in 2014-2015. The Bulldogs went 15-3 in Conference USA play, a conference as a whole that was very underappreciated last season, and ended up winning 27 games. However, once again, an NCAA Tournament trip proved to be elusive. Louisiana Tech was upset by UAB in the semifinals of the conference tournament and had to settle for the NIT. Once there, the Bulldogs knocked off Central Michigan and Texas A&M before falling to Temple in the quarterfinals. But there are big holes to fill. Coach Michael White was hired by Florida and the Bulldogs went out and grabbed former Miami assistant Eric Konkol. Coach Konkol will run a similar style of play as White, so the transition should be pretty smooth.

2014-15 Record: 27-9, 15-3
2014-15 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Eric Konkol
Coach Record: 0-0 at Louisiana Tech, 0-0 overall

Who’s Out:
The bigger issue is on the court where the Bulldogs must replace three starters. That includes point guard Kenneth Smith, the school’s all-time leader in assists and steals. Last season he averaged 6.4 points, 7.4 assists and 1.9 steals. Smith’s playmaking ability was a huge reason for Louisiana Tech’s success during the last four years. Also gone from the backcourt is Raheem Appleby, who led the team in scoring three of the last four years. As a senior he averaged 14.9 points per game and knocked down a team high 71 three-pointers. Michale Kyser, a 6-10 forward, averaged 8.6 points and 6.6 rebounds during his senior campaign. Not only was Kyser a strong rebounder, he also blocked 2.8 shots per game. His presence in the paint will be missed on both ends of the floor. Xavian Stapleton, a 6-6 wing, was the most productive bench player during his freshman campaign. In 15.5 minutes per game, he averaged 6.7 points. But now he is off to Mississippi State.

Who’s In:
Louisiana Tech needs some help in the backcourt and they should get it from Da’Shawn Robinson and Derric Jean. Robinson spent a couple years at the junior college level and is a solid shooter. This is a Louisiana Tech team that likes to shoot and Robinson is a player who could consistently knock down shots. Jean will be the point guard of the future and he should at least be the backup point guard in 2015-2016. Incoming freshman Jy’lan Washington and redshirt freshman Branden Sheppard will add options in the frontcourt.

Who to Watch:
Despite the significant losses, Louisiana Tech has a surprising amount of returning talent. Alex Hamilton and Eric McCree will step back into their starting roles. Hamilton is not a great outside shooter, but he is a big time scorer. Two years ago he averaged 14.5 points per game in his breakout season and last season he boosted his total to 14.7 points per game. Hamilton is a solid passer too and he will need to help replace Smith’s passing and Appleby’s scoring. McCree is a stretch forward who can knock down shots. The 6-8 junior averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds during his first year at Louisiana Tech after transferring in from Murray State, but he will be asked to do even more this time around. Jacobi Boykins and Qiydar Davis are a couple big guards who are ready for more minutes. Boykins connected on 39.5 percent of his attempts from long range as a freshman and he will be a very dangerous scorer once he starts using his 6-6 frame to attack the basket. Dayon Griffin is another sophomore brimming with potential. He will mostly be used as a shooter off of the bench.

Final Projection:
The backcourt still has talent despite the loss of Smith and Appleby and the frontcourt boasts a very dangerous shooter in McCree. The key is replacing Kyser in the post and Merrill Holden and Joniah White will battle it out for a starting spot. Holden only averaged 6.6 minutes per game as a sophomore at Louisiana Tech after spending one year at Pratt Community College. He is a strong rebounder, but White is the bigger body. The seven-footer may not score too much, but he can play solid defense. If the frontcourt can at least block some shots and help on the glass, Louisiana Tech will have enough talent to compete in Conference USA and make it back to the postseason. Maybe this time, when they aren’t the best team in the conference, Louisiana Tech can actually reach the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Alex Hamilton, Senior, Guard, 14.7 points per game
Da’Shawn Robinson, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Jacobi Boykins, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Erik McCree, Junior, Forward, 11.4 points per game
Merrill Holden, Junior, Forward, 1.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.1 (44th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.6 (144, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (98, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (122, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (111, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (237, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.9 (185, 5)
Rebound Margin: -4.4 (318, 14)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (73, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.8 (39, 2)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews