#139 Savannah State Men's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Savannah State Tigers

2012-2013 Overall Rank: #139
Conference Rank: #1 MEAC
Savannah State Men's College Basketball 2012-13 Team Preview
Savannah State Team Page


Remember when Norfolk State ruined your bracket when they beat Missouri in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament? Well this is a Savannah State squad that actually won the MEAC regular season title. And it was their first year in the conference. Most expected it would take years before Coach Horace Broadnax built a competitive team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. It took months instead and that was with a team without a senior on the roster. That bodes very well for the future and that future is now. Anchored by the inside-outside duo of Rashad Hassan and Deric Rudolph, the Tigers should be the favorites to win another conference title. Hassan led the squad with 13.0 points per game last season and grabbed 5.3 rebounds as well. Rudolph is pretty much just a shooter, but he knocked down three long balls per game.

2011-12 Record: 21-12, 14-2
2011-12 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Horace Broadnax
Coach Record: 86-123 at Savannah State, 86-123 overall

Who’s Out:
There are no major defections from the Tigers, so this is a team built for a tournament appearance. Last year they were a young team that failed to handle the pressure of March. Heading into the MEAC Tournament, they won 13 games in a row. Then they were upset by Hampton and had to settle for the NIT, where they were not surprisingly handled easily by Tennessee. But with that experience behind them, this group should not be afraid of the big games in March.

Who’s In:
Khiry White is the lone newcomer. The junior college shooting guard does have the experience to make an immediate impact, but he may find it difficult to make much of a splash. However, if there was a need for this team, it was perimeter on the depth and White will certainly help out in that regard and at least provide Coach Broadnax with some more options.

Who to Watch:
It was supposed to be the backcourt that helped carry Savannah State to any success they had in 2011-2012, but it turned out that the frontcourt was really the catalyst. Jyles Smith was the regular starter up front beside Hassan. He only averaged 4.1 points per game, but is a tough rebounder and will do the dirty work in the paint clearing space for Hassan to score. Smith is also a great shot blocker. As an upperclassman, he should be even better. While Smith got the starting nod, Arnold Louis and Joshua Montgomery did more than just provide depth. Louis had a superb junior campaign, averaging 9.5 points and a team high 7.8 rebounds. Louis could easily be starting, which he did nine times last year, but he works just as well coming off of the bench. Starting or not, Louis will be on the floor at the end of games when Savannah State has the ball. Montgomery is a 6-4 small forward, but he is tough despite tilting the scales at less than 200 pounds. Cedric Smith is a 6-3 guard who plays on the wing with Rudolph. Even when the Tigers are forced to play small, Cedric Smith will keep the team working hard on the glass. He is not a big scorer, averaging just 4.8 points per game, but Cedric Smith’s stellar defense and ability to rebound are great assets to this team.

Final Projection:
It can very easily be argued that nobody saw Savannah State coming and that was a huge advantage. Not only had most MEAC teams never played against the Tigers before, they were not very afraid of them until late in the season either. The Tigers are not sneaking up on anybody this year. That puts a little pressure on point guard Preston Blackman. He is the senior leader of this team and is coming off of a very strong campaign. He averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 assists. Blackman will not need to put up big numbers this year as the scorers around him continue to develop, but he will need to keep the team under control, get the big men involved and lead by example when things do not go as planned. As a senior, Blackman should be up for the job during the regular season, but it could be an entirely different story come March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Preston Blackman, Senior, Guard, 9.0 points per game
Deric Rudolph, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Cedric Smith, Senior, Guard, 4.8 points per game
Jyles Smith, Junior, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Rashad Hassan, Senior, Forward, 13.0 points per game