#140 Texas Southern Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Texas Southern Tigers

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #140
Conference Rank: #1 SWAC

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Coach Mike Davis had very little time to get to know his Texas Southern team heading into the 2012-2013 campaign. He was hired in August and had little opportunity to bring in any of his type of players. Fortunately, the players he had were pretty good. The Tigers ended up with a 16-2 record in SWAC play. The troubles from the previous regime left TSU ineligible for the postseason, so they had to take their 12 game winning streak and go home. That is not the case this time around and Coach Davis will have this group ready to compete with Southern, last year’s SWAC NCAA representative who nearly beat Gonzaga in the Round of 64, for a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

2012-13 Record: 17-14, 16-2
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Mike Davis
Coach Record: 17-14 at Texas Southern, 254-165 overall

Who’s Out:
The SWAC is as strong as it has been in quite some time right now. That may not be saying too much, but TSU has the potential to emerge as the consistent power in a conference that could earn a 15 seed instead of a 16 seed one of these days. However, there are some questions with the Tigers this season with the departure of Omar Strong, Fred Sturdivant, Kyrie Sutton and Dexter Ellington. Strong was the go-to-scorer on the team, averaging 17.0 points per game and connecting on nearly four three-pointers per contest. Sturdivant was the interior scorer on the team and led the Tigers with 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per contest. Sutton and Ellington were both part-time starters and Sutton’s 6-9, 240 pound frame will be missed. Without Sturdivant and Sutton, Texas Southern will have much more trouble getting things started in the paint on both ends of the floor. They were not always dominate in the paint against SWAC competition, but they were often more productive than their counterparts and opened up the floor for the shooters on the wing.

Who’s In:
Coach Davis’ newcomers are heavy on big athletic wings. For TSU they can generally play at the four spot without a problem and that means this team is going to be a bit smaller and quicker at times, but with the versatility to play big on the wings. At 6-8 and 210 pounds, incoming freshman Christian McCoggle has the most size of the six newcomers. Freshmen Vicktor Arnick and Victor Haywood are 6-6 and 6-7, respectively. While Haywood is built more to play the power forward position, Arnick will be the player to watch in the long run. He can create off the dribble and get to the basket with ease or stand back and knock down the long ball with consistency. That is a dangerous combination in the SWAC and sooner or later Arnick will be extremely productive. But for now junior college transfer Jose Rodriguez could find himself in the starting five. Rodriguez is another 6-6 wing, yet he is like Haywood in the sense that he is comfortable hanging out in the paint on both ends of the floor. Julian Reese and Tyree Bynum will add some depth on the perimeter and possibly a couple of scoring threats off the bench as freshmen.  

Who to Watch:
Texas Southern does not need any of the newcomers to come in and replace Strong or Sturdivant. There are returning players who can step up their production. Lawrence Johnson-Danner, a 6-4 senior, is no stranger to hitting long balls and he could have a huge season with more shots to go around. With his size, Johnson-Danner can be more dangerous attacking the basket than the diminutive Strong, but he does need to be more aggressive getting to the basket and not just hang out beyond the arc. He will get help from Madarious Gibbs, another solid shooter. Gibbs started 11 games during his sophomore season and is a fine distributor. When not passing the ball, he can get to the basket and knock down the three-pointer with consistency when needed. He may be needed more offensively this season. Aaron Clayborn was used to starting next to Sturdivant, but now he will be the main interior scoring threat and rebounder. After averaging 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior, Clayborn should have little trouble filling that role.  

Final Projection:
Ray Penn is the player that makes this team tick. The point guard averaged 12.2 points and 5.7 assists during his first season with Texas Southern. The 5-9 senior is a capable outside shooter with a quick first step. If the opposition backs off to cover his speed, he has no problem making them pay with a three-point attempt. Penn is also a leader on the floor and his passing ability will get the rest of the team involved in their new offensive roles. And if that does not work, Penn can just score more himself. Southern represent the SWAC very well in the postseason last year, but Texas Southern was the best team in the league and that may not change for quite some time with Coach Davis leading the way and players like Penn helping along the way.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Ray Penn, Senior, Guard, 12.2 points per game
Madarious Gibbs, Junior, Guard, 6.5 points per game
Lawrence Johnson-Danner, Senior, Guard, 8.5 points per game
Jose Rodriguez, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Aaron Clayborn, Senior, Forward, 7.6 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.3 (99th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.1 (131, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (129, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.9 (86, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (5, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (89, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.6 (318, 4)
Rebound Margin: -0.6 (196, 4)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (86, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.8 (59, 2)


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