#143 Sam Houston State Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview



Sam Houston State Bearkats

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #143
Conference Rank: #2 Southland
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Sam Houston State only ended up with an 8-10 record in Southland play last season, but many of those ten losses were extremely close. A few lucky bounces here and there and Coach Jason Hooten would have had a team that was up a notch or two on the conference pecking order. Coach Hooten also had 11 players around for a majority of last season who averaged at least ten minutes per contest. Seven of those players are returning, so this is a team with plenty of experience and depth. If a star can emerge, this will be a Bearkats team that battles for a Southland title. DeMarcus Gatlin could be that player. The 6-4 wing averaged just 8.1 points per game before being sidelined with a knee injury. Back in 2011-2012 Gatlin averaged 10.4 points per game and he is certainly capable of becoming the scoring leader for SHSU. With a little more work on his outside shot, Gatlin would be very difficult to defend. As it is, on a team that slows down and plays solid defense, Gatlin can use his size to attack the basket when the shot clock is running down.

2012-13 Record: 17-17, 8-10
2012-13 Postseason: None
Coach: Jason Hooten
Coach Record: 30-36 at Sam Houston State, 30-36 overall

Who’s Out:

The biggest loss for SHSU is Darius Gatson. As a senior he averaged 8.9 points and a team high 3.3 assists. During the Bearkats surprising little run in the conference tournament, it was Gatson who made the team tick. He also started 34 games for Coach Hooten, the only player to even come close to that mark during the 2012-2013 campaign. Aaron Harwell was not much of a scorer, but he was a fine backup point guard. He has left the program after his junior season. The backcourt also loses Jeremy McKay. He never really found his outside shooting stroke which kept him down the bench a ways, yet he could step in for a few minutes here and there and at least play solid defense. Perhaps Terrance Motley, a 6-7 forward, will be the toughest player to replace. Motley always seemed to be productive off of the bench despite limited playing time, usually due to foul trouble.

Who’s In:

The frontcourt depth that Motley provided last year will have to come from the newcomers this time around. Freshmen Jesse Lopez and Aurimas Majaukas will be thrown right into the mix and join returning 6-4 senior Nathaniel Mason as the main frontcourt players on the bench. However, Coach Hooten may opt to play a little smaller with Kaheem Ransom and Jabari Peters joining an already crowded backcourt. What both the former Seward County Community College teammates provide this team, which they lacked before, is outside shooting. Ransom is a dynamic scoring point guard who can drive and dish and keep the opposition honest with his three-point shooting. Peters may not be quite as effective from long range as Ransom, but he can finish around the basket and play very tough defense. Dakari Henderson, a redshirt freshman, will also suit up for the Bearkats this season.

Who to Watch:

It does not really matter who starts. This is a team that can easily go 10 or 11 deep again and Coach Hooten will pull anybody who needs a break or shows any sign of taking a break while playing defense. The backcourt depth is strong and players like Paul Baxter, Will Bond and Marquel McKinney will have to earn their playing time. Baxter started 22 games as a freshman and is loaded with potential. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 assists last year and was enough of a consistent shooting threat to keep the opposition honest. Although do not be surprised if his numbers stay the same this year if Ransom and Peters live up to their potential. Bond and McKinney are the only returning three-point threats. And this was a team that struggled shooting the ball as it was. Those two will need to step up and help open up the too often stagnant offense by knocking down more shots.

Final Projection:

James Thomas and Michael Holyfield could end up as the most important players on the team this year. Thomas, a 6-5 senior, led the Bearkats with 9.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds. His numbers could go up rather dramatically if he starts making some free-throws and gets more open looks inside with improved shooting from his teammates. Holyfield will not be on the floor all that much, but he will likely start again as a junior. At 6-11 and 255 pounds, he is the only player on the roster that can be a major defensive presence in the paint. Holyfield will not score much at all and he is not even a very good shot blocker, but he hits the glass hard and alters enough shots to make a pretty big impact. Sam Houston State will play great defense. They will stay close in just about every game because of that defense, but they really need somebody that takes the big shots on the other end of the court. There are plenty of candidates and one of them should turn into the leader this team needs to compete in the Southland Conference.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Paul Baxter, Sophomore, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Marquel McKinney, Junior, Guard, 6.0 points per game
DeMarcus Gatlin, Senior, Guard, 8.1 points per game
James Thomas, Senior, Forward, 9.6 points per game
Michael Holyfield, Junior, Center, 2.9 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.8 (263rd in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.2 (46, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 38.6 (335, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.1 (94, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (123, 2) 
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.0 (211, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.5 (285, 7)
Rebound Margin: 3.4 (73, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.9 (102, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (172, 5)



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