#104 Middle Tennessee Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #104
Conference Rank: #6 C-USA

Middle Tennessee Team Page#104 Middle Tennessee Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Middle Tennessee Basketball Tickets

After their recent domination of the Sun Belt Conference, Middle Tennessee is taking the show to Conference USA. The Blue Raiders have gone 33-3 in Sun Belt play over the last two seasons so a new challenge for the program is welcome. However, there are a lot of holes for Coach Kermit Davis to fill and this is not the same experienced team that earned an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The talent is still there though and MT will be a competitor in their new conference.

2012-13 Record: 28-6, 19-1
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Kermit Davis
Coach Record: 208-139 at Middle Tennessee, 279-189 overall

Who’s Out:
Graduating seniors Marcos Knight, Raymond Cintron, Bruce Massey and JT Sulton have seen Middle Tennessee through some great times. Knight was the only double digit scorer last season and was also a double digit scorer during his other season with the Blue Raiders. Cintron was a lights out shooter from long range. He never provided much offense inside the arc, but MT will miss his outside shooting. The backcourt even loses their point guard in Massey. Massey, a two-year starter, was a fine distributor and floor leader. Sulton had a bit of a disappointing senior season, but he was a solid interior scorer and rebounder. Much of the depth on the perimeter was also lost as James Gallman and Jason Jones ran out of eligibility. Gallman could provide a nice offensive spark off of the bench with his outside shooting ability and Jones added another rebounding presence to the wing.

Who’s In:
Like the class two years ago that brought in Knight, Cintron and Massey from the junior college ranks, Coach Davis hopes another trio of juco transfers can have just as much success. Tharone Chilton will likely take over the point guard duties. He is a great athlete and a fine scoring point guard. Marcus Tarrance was a teammate of Chilton’s at Eastern Oklahoma State College. The 6-6 guard can handle the ball and would be a quality secondary ball handler. But he is better off using his size and attacking the basket from the wing. Ronald Ross is a superb outside shooter and has the potential to step right into Cintron’s role as the main shooter on the team, whether it is as a starter or from the bench. Jaqawn Raymond sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina State. He appeared in just 11 games for the Wolfpack, but Raymond will be a much bigger contributor for the Blue Raiders. Redshirt freshman Blake Johnson and incoming freshman Eric Wortham will add more depth on the perimeter. Coach Davis has enough depth up front that freshmen forwards Joshua Phillips and Reggie Upshaw can take the time to develop.

Who to Watch:
Shawn Jones and Neiko Hunter had productive junior seasons and the opportunity will be there for both to turn into consistent scorers while Middle Tennessee retools the backcourt. Jones averaged 8.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Jones has a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds and that leads to some easy buckets in the paint. He can also score in the flow of the offense and that is where this team may need him the most. Hunter can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability, but he does need to toughen up on the glass. Torin Walker, who spent one season at Oklahoma State, will not likely turn into an offensive presence for his senior season, but he is a big 6-11, 240 pound center who can eat up space and minutes off of the bench. Jacquez Rozier missed about half of his sophomore season with a hand injury. He does not have a lot of playing experience, yet the potential is there for Rozier to have a breakout campaign.

Final Projection:
The return of Kerry Hammonds and Tweety Knight means the backcourt will not have to rely entirely on the junior college transfers. Hammonds has a nice shooting stroke and, at 6-5, has the size to attack the rim and hit the glass. Knight is not a great shooter, but he is a good passer and a very good defender. There will always be a place for Knight on the floor when the Blue Raiders need a stop or an extra ball handler. The conference slate is going to be more difficult now, but the junior college transfers that the program has a habit of picking up will allow them to consistently compete. It will take some time to replace the six seniors who dominated the Sun Belt over the last two seasons, but it will not take all season.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Tharone Chilton, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Marcus Tarrance, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Kerry Hammonds, Senior, Guard, 6.3 points per game
Neiko Hunter, Senior, Forward, 7.7 points per game
Shawn Jones, Senior, Forward, 8.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.7 (89th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 58.1 (15, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (42, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.6 (41, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.3 (261, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.7 (31, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.5 (175, 5)
Rebound Margin: 5.7 (24, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (82, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.6 (208, 3)


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