#138 Morgan State Men's Basketball Preview

Morgan State Golden Bears

Overall Rank: #138
Conference Rank: #1 MEAC
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2010-11: 17-14, 10-6
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Todd Bozeman (102-65 at Morgan State, 165-100 overall)

By Morgan State’s standards, the 2010-2011 season was disappointing. The team finished fourth in the MEAC and fell to Hampton in the conference tournament finals. However, there is good reason to be optimistic. DeWayne Jackson had the breakout campaign that many expected and tallied 14.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest. The 6-8 wing has great size for a small forward, especially in the MEAC, and proved to be a superb athlete who can score in bunches. His outside shooting was the only disappointing part of his game, but he still led the Bears with 1.5 three-pointers per game. With a little more consistency, Jackson will easily put up 20 points per game.

Who’s Out:
The depth of the frontcourt takes a big hit with the departure of Rodney Stokes and Gene Johnson. Stokes started 20 games during his senior season and having his 6-10 frame under the basket created space for the rest of the team. Stokes’ 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game do not do him justice and he will be missed. Losing Johnson, who started nine games but rarely played more than ten minutes a game, just compounds the depth issues the frontcourt will run into this season.

Who’s In:
Shaquille Duncan will help fill the void in the frontcourt off of the bench. Duncan is not a bruiser under the basket and is not much of a scorer with his back to the basket, but he can get up and down the floor and has a nice wing span to grab some rebounds and block some shots. With enough talent in the starting lineup to pick up the scoring slack, Coach Todd Bozeman will just need Duncan to help out on the glass and play solid defense for as many minutes as possible. It is the group on the perimeter that struggled for the most part last year. The team lacked a shooter. Jeremy Canty may solve that problem. Sean Thomas will not help in the shooting area, but he is expected to return this season after being suspended for the entire 2010-2011 campaign and will give the Golden Bears plenty of depth at the point guard position.

Who to Watch:
Larry Bastfield was the only player to start all 31 games last season and the point guard job is his for now. The senior will rarely look to score, but he has a decent shot and the defense has to keep an eye on him on the perimeter or he will make them pay. More importantly, Bastfield dished out 3.4 assists per game last year and tallied just 1.8 turnovers. Adam Braswell is another point guard who can handle the ball, but is not much of a scorer. That leaves the shooting guard spot to be filled by Ameer Ali and Justin Black. Ali is the glue on this team. The problem is he cannot shoot. However, he can do just about everything else and ranked second on the team in rebounding a year ago. Ideally Ali is a small forward, and he will spend some time there, but he will have to spend some time as the off-guard as well. Black is a better shooter and all-around scorer than Black and he could find himself in a starting role if Coach Bozeman wants to use Ali off the bench like he did part of last season. That would give the Bears a shooter on the floor and Ali can come in and be a leader on the floor when Morgan State needs some help on the glass.

Final Projection:
What has made Morgan State so dominate in the MEAC is their interior play. Kevin Thompson and Aric Brooks have formed a superb interior duo and will be even better this year. Thompson was a double-double machine last year, averaging 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds. He is an efficient interior scorer who can play some solid defense as well. If he started hitting his free-throws, Thompson would be even more dangerous than he already has been. Brooks is often overlooked due to the star power of Jackson and Thompson, but he is a great power forward in this system. He can score inside and out and is even a pretty good passer for a 6-6 forward. Those two will have to play a lot if Morgan State cannot find some depth in the frontcourt. Ian Chiles, a 7-2 center, saw limited action last year, but could play a much bigger role this time around. The good news is even if nobody is ready to fill in off of the bench, Jackson has the size to play the four and Ali and Black can easily play the three. The depth is there, but moving Jackson to the power forward spot could negate his offensive advantage over smaller defenders.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Larry Bastfield, Senior, Guard, 5.1 points per game
Ameer Ali, Senior, Guard, 6.1 points per game
DeWayne Jackson, Junior, Forward, 14.5 points per game
Aric Brooks, Senior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Kevin Thompson, Senior, Forward, 13.1 points per game

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