#66 Louisiana Tech Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #66
Conference Rank: #3 Conference USA

Louisiana Tech Team Page#66 Louisiana Tech Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Louisiana Tech Basketball Tickets

During their last season in the WAC, Louisiana Tech dominated the league. It will be a bit tougher in Conference USA, but the Bulldogs have enough talent to take home a title and reach the NCAA Tournament. Coach Michael White is building a solid program and it is not going to end any time soon. The Bulldogs went 11 deep last season and that allowed the team to stay fresh and play high pressure defense. With just two of those 11 gone, Louisiana Tech will be able to keep up the pressure this year. Once again it will be Raheem Appleby leading the way. On a team that prides itself on a balanced attack on both ends of the floor, it is Appleby who often steals the show. The 6-3 junior easily led the squad with 14.9 points per game in 2012-2013. He will get to the basket with ease and is capable of scoring even more if he can shoot over 30.1 percent from beyond the arc.

2012-13 Record: 27-7, 16-2
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Michael White
Coach Record: 45-23 at Louisiana Tech, 45-23 overall

Who’s Out:
The departure of Brandon Gibson and J.L. Lewis will open up some minutes inside. Gibson started 24 contests and ranked fourth on the team in scoring and third in rebounding. Gibson was not a big forward, but he was athletic and could knock down some long balls. Lewis was the bigger body who came in and helped out on the glass. He may have been pretty far down the bench and was not going to do much scoring, yet he could fight it out with some of the bigger post players Louisiana Tech ran into.

Who’s In:
The Bulldogs only have one newcomer who is eligible to see the floor in 2013-2014. Leo Edwards could help cover the loss of Lewis. Edwards will likely need some time to develop his offensive game, although the 6-8, 220 pound power forward should be ready to help out on the glass right away.

Who to Watch:
Appleby may steal the headlines but Kenneth Smith deserves some too. The junior point guard led the WAC averaging 5.0 assists and had a 2.16 assist-to-turnover ratio. Smith is the guy who makes this team go and there is a reason why he led the team in minutes and was the only Bulldog to start all 34 games a year ago. The offense is simply not the same when he is on the bench. Smith is developing into a decent scorer too. At 6-3 he has the size to finish at the rim, although he will look to drive and dish first. If his three-point shot continues to develop, Smith will quickly be more than a pass first point guard. Cordarius Johnson will join Smith and Appleby in the starting backcourt. Johnson is mostly a three-point shooter, although he can use his 6-5 frame to help out on the glass. Alex Hamilton can spell Smith at the point, yet he does more than that. As just a freshman last season Hamilton ranked third on the team with 7.8 points per game. He is not a long range shooter yet he will get to the charity stripe quite often and he can knock those down with consistency. When Coach White wants two ball handlers on the floor, Hamilton will be out there with Smith. Experienced seniors Kenyon McNeail and Jarron Johnson provide ample depth on the wings.

Final Projection:
Chris Anderson is undersized for the four spot, and that may be more problematic in the new look Conference USA than it was in the WAC. Toughness is not a problem for Anderson though. Michale Kyser, a 6-9 junior, will be one of the best shot blockers in the conference. He averaged 2.7 a year ago and added a team high 5.3 rebounds. One of those two needs to step up in the scoring department to help replace Gibson. And if the Bulldogs can find a traditional low post scorer, which Gibson was not, that would open up space for the slashers on the wing. Isaiah Massey did not make the impact expected after transferring in from Ole Miss and a year in the system could make a huge difference. Gilbert Talbot and Stojan Gjuroski could crack the regular rotation this time around after failing to make the top 11 in 2012-2013. A tougher schedule will not allow for Louisiana Tech to reach 27 wins again and they will eventually lose a home game, but in a wide open Conference USA, the Bulldogs will be right in the mix at the top.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Kenneth Smith, Junior, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Raheem Appleby, Junior, Guard, 14.9 points per game
Cordarius Johnson, Senior, Guard, 7.9 points per game
Chris Anderson, Senior, Forward, 4.6 points per game
Michale Kyser, Junior, Forward, 5.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.6 (54th in nation,1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.3 (87, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.0 (277, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.3 (58, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (53, 2)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.1 (234, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (169, 5)
Rebound Margin: 0.1 (170, 6)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (130, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (104, 2)


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