#64 Southern Methodist Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Southern Methodist Mustangs

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank:  #5 American Athletic Conference

SMU Team Page#64 Southern Methodist Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy SMU Basketball Tickets

Larry Brown, a coach with a ton of NBA pedigree, was hired by Southern Methodist before last season to bring some life to a basketball program often overlooked on the national landscape.  Traditionally a football school, SMU is going to look to make waves in the new American Athletic Conference this season.   Last season the Mustangs were below .500.  With solid recruiting and a coach that has some panache, the Mustangs should be expected to win a few extra games this season and make a jump to the top half of the conference standings.

2012-2013 record:  15-17, 5-11
2012-2013 postseason:  None
Coach:  Larry Brown
Coach Record:  15-17 at SMU, 192-78 overall

Who’s Out:
The reason optimism is high in Dallas is because SMU returns all of their starters from a year ago.  Growing together for a second straight year is only going to enhance Brown’s coaching effect on this team.  Overall, they lose a total of six players, but none were significant contributors.  Guard Brian Bernardi was the most productive, shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range.  They only have two seniors on this year’s squad, so they will not be losing much next year either.  This is a young team that is poised to get better.

Who’s In:
The real players to watch are the incoming freshmen that Brown persuaded to join the program.  Shooting guard Keith Frazier is a local kid who is considered the cream of their crop.  He should contribute significantly this season.  Yanick Moreira is the top junior college power forward, according to recruiting websites.  He also has Sterling Brown and Ben Moore coming in, another shooting guard and power forward, respectively.  Part of the appeal of hiring Larry Brown was his ability to recruit players.  He is proving he can hang with the premier programs in the country.

Who to Watch:
All five starters return, perhaps none more important than the junior guard Nick Russell.  He tied for the team lead in points per game last season while also leading in assists.  His leadership will be paramount to the Mustangs’ success this season.  Center Cannen Cunningham only averaged 9.3 points per game, but he was a disrupter underneath the hoop for them and their most commanding shot-blocker.  Forward Jalen Jones is an athletic forward looking to take his game to the next level after leading the team in rebounds and scoring average.  Of the returning players, Nick Russell is going to be the most scrutinized.  Point guards always are.  His numbers were very good last year.  They will rely on his production to keep this team moving in the right direction.

Final Projection:
The 15-17 mark from a year ago was a nice improvement from the season before (13-19).  But Larry Brown is just getting started.  He probably could have had a number of jobs, but he ended up at SMU.  In his second season, there should be a vast improvement in play all over the court.  This is still a young team.  They will keep learning as they go.  Each member of the starting five returns, and they should each be better and more seasoned.  Their stellar defense last year was indicative of a Larry Brown coached team.  They led Conference USA with 39.5 percent opponents’ shooting last season.  This year they tackle a new conference.  Connecticut and Cincinnati are always a tough out, but the Mustangs have the ability to be in the mix in upper half of the conference.  At the least, they should find themselves in position to upset a team or two along the way.  If these stud freshmen contribute, SMU will make incredible strides.

Projected Postseason Tournament:  NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Nick Russell, Senior, Guard, 14.0 points per game
Ryan Manuel, Junior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Cannen Cunningham, Junior, Center, 9.3 points per game
Jalen Jones, Junior, Forward, 14.0 points per game
Shawn Williams, Senior, Forward, 8.5 points per game

By the numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.5 (247th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.7 (69, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (89, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.5 (39, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.5 (339, 12)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.4 (NA, NA)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.5 (29, 1)
Rebound Margin: 2.6 (102, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (231, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (257, 7)

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruiting:
#26 Keith Frazier
#126 Sterling Brown


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