UAB Men's Basketball 2016 NIT Tournament Capsule

UAB Blazers
Conference USA (26-6, 16-2)
Last year UAB was a surprise NCAA Tournament entry. It was a surprise they got there for one thing, and then they went on to beat Iowa State. Many figured the Blazers would take a step back this year and not live up to their 2015 tournament run, but Coach Jerod Haase had other plans. The team failed to pick up any huge nonconference wins, but they dominated a pretty good Conference USA.
Big Wins: 12/5 at Illinois State (74-61), 12/29 Stephen F. Austin (76-66), 2/21 at Middle Tennessee (77-67)
Bad Losses: 11/13 at Auburn (74-75), 11/27 vs Illinois (58-72), 1/28 at Western Kentucky (62-69)
Coach: Jerod Haase
Why They Can Surprise:
The Blazers are very strong on the glass and share the ball amazingly well. The great rebounding is mostly due to Chris Cokley and William Lee. Cokley has also emerged as one of the team’s top scoring threats and is averaging 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. Lee, another sophomore, is a double digit scorer as well and hauls in 6.3 rebounds per game. What makes Lee more dangerous though is his ability to step outside and knock down mid-range jumpers. Lee is also one of the best shot blockers in the country. Sharing the ball comes from point guard Nick Norton and high scoring off-guard Robert Brown. Norton will look for his teammates most of the time, but he is a capable shooter. Many expected Brown to take over this team, but he has not needed to. Brown will take the big shots, but he also knows that he has developing talent around him. For the lone senior in the regular rotation, it is huge that he has recognized that he does not need to take over the game and will rely more on his supporting cast.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Even though UAB does usually get an assist on a made basket and the backcourt is strong in that department, they still tend to turn the ball over a bit too much. That is usually not Norton’s fault and Denzel Watts has done an admirable job as the backup point guard, but everybody chips in a turnover or two here and there and it adds up fast. This is a good team, but they are not talented enough to lose the turnover battle and beat the type of quality team that they will see in the postseason.
Probable Starters:
Nick Norton, Sophomore, Guard, 9.0 ppg, 5.2 apg, 1.7 spg
Hakeem Baxter, Junior, Guard, 6.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
Robert Brown, Senior, Guard, 13.5 ppg, 3.1 apg
William Lee, Sophomore, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Tosin Mehinti, Junior, Forward, 5.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Key Roleplayers:
Chris Cokley, Sophomore, Forward, 13.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Denzell Watts, Junior, Guard, 4.1 ppg
Dirk Williams, Junior, Guard, 9.3 ppg, 1.3 apg, 3.9 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.0 (43rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.0 (106, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.3 (20, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (55, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (130, 5)   
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.8 (42, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (89, 3)
Rebound Margin:  4.8 (49, 3)
Assists Per Game:  18.7 (3, 1)
Turnovers Per Game:  12.7 (175, 6)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2015    NCAA Second Round win over Iowa State
2015    NCAA Third Round loss to UCLA
2011    NCAA Opening Round loss to Clemson
2010    NIT      First Round win over Coastal Carolina
2010    NIT      Second Round win over North Carolina State
2010    NIT      Quarterfinal loss to North Carolina
2009    NIT      First Round loss to Notre Dame
2008    NIT      First Round win over VCU
2006    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Kentucky
*all team stats through 3/6