#98 Furman Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview


Furman Paladins


2017-2018 Overall Rank: #98

Conference Rank: #1 SoCon

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Furman was in a three-way tie atop the Southern Conference standings with a 14-4 record last season. Following a disappointing upset loss to Samford in the SoCon Tournament Quarterfinals, the Paladins had to settle for a trip to the CIT. They made the most of that opportunity though and beat USC Upstate and Campbell on the road. That tournament experience should do this team well heading into 2017-2018. With 11 of their top 12 scorers returning, the expectations are higher than the CIT this year. With senior guard Devin Sibley leading the way, this is a team that has a leader that can take them to the NCAA Tournament. Sibley averaged 17.7 points per game and connected on an amazing 44.9 percent of his 176 three-point attempts.
2016-17 Record: 23-12, 14-4
2016-17 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Bob Richey
Coach Record: 0-1 at Furman, 0-1 overall
Who’s Out:
Kris Acox was second on the team in scoring with 13.0 points and led the squad in rebounding with 7.7. He was the main interior threat for Furman on both ends of the floor. While losing that consistent scorer in the paint is a concern, Furman has enough options to replace the production of Acox. The only other departure is T.K. Hayes. He played a grand total of 18 minutes during his senior season.
Who’s In:
Coach Bob Richey, who took over for Niko Medved prior to the CIT loss to St. Peters on an interim basis and later had the interim tag removed, brings in three newcomers for the 2017-2018 campaign. Clay Mounce, a 6-7 forward, redshirted last season and will add some versatile depth in the frontcourt. He is a very good all-around player who can, eventually, contribute in a variety of ways. Incoming freshman Noah Gurley will add more depth to the frontcourt. The 6-8 Fayetteville, Georgia product is a talented scorer both in the paint and from outside. Some more strength will need to be added so he can attack the basket from the wing more effectively, but for now Gurley has the potential to crack the regular rotation. Alex Hunter will add depth at the point guard position. He can handle the ball effectively and knock down plenty of outside shots as well.
Who to Watch:
Sibley may be the leader of the team, but the Paladins have a ton of talent on the perimeter. Daniel Fowler, a 6-4 senior, averaged 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season. Like most players on the team, he is also a relatively consistent outside shooting threat. John Davis III is another experienced senior who started last season and will again this year. Davis is only 5-11, but he is a very dangerous shooter and can find his teammates when he attacks the basket. If Coach Richey wants to run with a smaller lineup, Andrew Brown could crack the starting lineup. He started 16 games last season and averaged 4.7 points per game as a sophomore. Brown did play well when given the opportunity and he is the second best pure shooter on the team behind Sibley. Whether he is a shooter off the bench or a starter, Brown will get plenty of minutes. Jordan Lyons and Jonathan Jean are a couple of small guards who have shown flashes of their potential. Lyons averaged 5.9 points per game last season and is very dangerous when his outside shot is falling. Jean, a 5-11 sophomore, will compete with Hunter for minutes at the point, but Jean is a proven defender.
Final Projection:
With the loaded backcourt, it will be the play of the frontcourt that determines just how good this group will be in 2017-2018. Geoff Beans is a stretch four who averaged 6.3 points per game and shot 39.1 percent from beyond the arc last season. He started 20 games last season and is certainly a solid starting option if Furman needs more big bodies on the floor. The more traditional interior players are Jalen Williams and Matt Rafferty. Two years ago Rafferty started 30 games as a freshman and averaged 8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds. He missed most of last season, but did averaged 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in 15 games. With Rafferty back and banging in the paint, Furman has an obvious replacement for Acox. With Williams and the newcomers providing some depth and options, Furman should have no major issues in the frontcourt. Barring a rash of injuries, this should be the team to beat in the Southern Conference.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
John Davis, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Devin Sibley, Senior, Guard, 17.7 points per game
Daniel Fowler, Senior, Guard, 10.9 points per game
Geoff Beans, Senior, Forward, 6.3 points per game
Matt Rafferty, Junior, Forward, 7.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.0 (158th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.3 (43, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (38, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (96, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.1 (36, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.5 (35, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (189, 8)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (106, 4)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (76, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (156, 3)