#62 UAB Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

UAB Blazers

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #62
Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA

UAB Team Page#62 UAB Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy UAB Basketball Tickets

It is tough to argue that this UAB team will be worse than the team that beat Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament. However, the Blazers entered the Conference USA Tournament with just a 16-15 record. They had to pull off a couple upsets to reach the NCAA Tournament and then pulled off a huge upset over the Cyclones. With five starters back, the Blazers will expect to get back to the big dance and that could certainly be the case if they stay as hot as they were in March, but consistency is the key for this team. Coach Jerod Haase will need leading scorer Robert Brown to lead the way. Brown, a 6-5 senior, was the only player to average double digits in the scoring column last season with 13.7 points per game. He also added 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per contest. Brown does it all, but with the players around him growing up, he should not have to do quite as much in 2015-2016.

2014-15 Record: 20-16, 12-6
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jerod Haase
Coach Record: 54-46 at UAB, 54-46 overall

Who’s Out:
C.J. Washington is the only departed player who was in the regular rotation last year. The 6-8 forward averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds last year, but was a major force on the team two seasons ago, averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. The only other losses are little used Denzel Collins and Jarvis Calhoun.

Who’s In:
The Blazers bring in just two new players who are eligible for the 2015-2016 campaign. Both are interesting prospects who could make an impact right away. Dirk Williams, a 6-5 guard, spent two years at the junior college level and is a big time scorer. More importantly on a team that often struggled from beyond the arc, Williams is a guy who can knock down three-pointers consistently. The other newcomer is incoming freshman Thomas Smallwood. The seven-foot Frenchman will likely need some time to develop his game, but he is a big guy who can stretch the defense.

Who to Watch:
The most talent could be in the frontcourt where sophomores William Lee and Chris Cokley and junior Tosin Mehinti are all coming off of great seasons. Lee was second on the team in scoring with 8.0 points per game and led the squad with 6.0 rebounds. He also blocked 1.5 shots per game and even knocked down 45.7 percent of his 46 three-point attempts. He is tough to defend and a very good all-around player. Cokley was the conference’s sixth man of the year as a freshman, averaging 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds. With a year of experience under the belts of Lee and Cokley, the frontcourt could be even more intimidating to the opposition. Mehinti is the most daunting of them all on the defensive end. The 6-9 junior led the team with 2.0 blocks per game and added 6.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. Without Washington though, the depth in the frontcourt did take a pretty big hit.

Final Projection:
Hakeem Baxter and Nick Norton will join Brown in the backcourt. Norton is another very promising sophomore who stepped into a large role as a freshman. He averaged 7.2 points per game and led the Blazers with 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals. Baxter is a more experienced junior, but he really struggled with his outside shot last year. Tyler Madison and Denzell Watts figure to provide much of the depth on the perimeter. Overall, UAB was a year or two ahead of schedule when they made the 2015 NCAA Tournament. But obviously they played extremely well down the stretch. The target will be on UAB in a conference that will boast quite a few very good teams. Whether or not UAB can win the conference will likely come down to the last few games of the regular season and whether or not they can make the NCAA Tournament will come down to a few games in the conference tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Nick Norton, Sophomore, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Hakeem Baxter, Junior, Guard, 7.6 points per game
Robert Brown, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Tosin Mehinti, Junior, Forward, 6.8 points per game
William Lee, Sophomore, Forward, 8.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.8 (138th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.1 (217, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.8 (211, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (139, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (243, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.3 (213, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.8 (31, 2)
Rebound Margin: 1.5 (129, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (55, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.4 (254, 8)


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