#123 Sam Houston State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Sam Houston State Bearkats

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #123
Conference Rank: #2 Southland

Sam Houston State Team Page#123 Sam Houston State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Sam Houston State Basketball Tickets

Sam Houston State is coming off of another quality season. The Bearkats finished 13-5 in Southland play, but that was still five games behind undefeated Stephen F. Austin. SHSU lost 73-56 to the Lumberjacks in early January and the two met again in the Southland tournament final. Once again Sam Houston State could not crack the SFA defense and fell 68-49. But that was not the end of the Bearkats’ season. They went on to beat Alabama State and lose to San Diego in the CIT. Four players who started all 35 games are back, but that does not include DeMarcus Gatlin, who missed last season with an injury. The last time he played a full season, which was way back in 2011-2012, the big 6-4 guard averaged 10.4 points, 2.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds. The return of Gatlin gives Coach Jason Hooten size on the perimeter and options. This is a team that may be forced to play small due to lack of options in the frontcourt, and Gatlin is the guard on the team that is tough enough to play at the four spot against most opponents.

2013-14 Record: 24-11, 13-5
2013-14 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Jason Hooten
Coach Record: 72-60 at Sam Houston State, 72-60 overall

Who’s Out:
While four starters are back, Sam Houston State lost a lot of size. James Thomas started at the power forward position last year and averaged 8.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. Terrance Motley, a 6-7, 240 pound forward, did not start any games as a senior, but he was the main reserve at both frontcourt positions. He averaged 8.5 points and 4.3 rebounds despite averaging just 16.1 minutes per game. Nathaniel Mason, a 6-4 forward, and Will Bond, a 6-4 guard, were regulars in Coach Hooten’s nine man rotation.

Who’s In:
Three of the four newcomers are forwards and each of them will get every opportunity to contribute major minutes. Junior college transfer Sean Goodwin was a great pickup for the program. He is a 6-7, 230 pound bruiser with experience. That is the only way to even come close to replacing Thomas and Motley. Jesse Lopez, a redshirt freshman, plays like a center even though he is a little undersized. But Lopez is always tough on the glass and that alone could be enough for him to earn some minutes. Albert Almanza is listed as a forward, but he is really a 6-5 wing. He has a great shot and can pretty much do everything. It is very possible that Almanza will spend time at the four spot where he would be a nightmare for opposing power forwards to guard. Josh Delaney is the guard of the group. The speedy point guard may find minutes tough to come by this year, but he could see some action off of the bench.

Who to Watch:
Jabari Peters, Kaheem Ransom and Paul Baxter formed a dynamic backcourt trio last year and will be even better this time around. They are all very good outside shooters and Peters and Ransom are proven slashers as well. Peters ended the season averaging 12.6 points, 4.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Ransom was just behind him in points, assists and rebounds, and just above Peters in steals. Baxter connected on 42.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and is an amazingly efficient scorer for a guard. On a team that shot just 38.6 percent from the floor two years ago, he is a huge reason why that number boosted to a much more respectable 46.2 percent during the 2013-2014 campaign. The last of the returning starters certainly helped out in that regard as well. Center Michael Holyfield shot 63.8 percent from the floor, but took fewer than half as many shots as Peters and Ransom. But Holyfield is not around to score 20 points per game. The 6-11, 270 pound senior is a quality rebounder and a very potent shot blocker. He ended the year averaging 6.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. The interesting aspect for Holyfield this year will be how he reacts if Sam Houston State spends most of his time as the big surrounded by four guards. Holyfield may not be able to boost his minutes up too much from his 17.6 per game from last season, so even if a couple of the newcomers are ready to go, there will still be times when four guards are on the floor.

Final Projection:
Aurimas Majauskas is an option to eat up minutes in the frontcourt. The 6-7 sophomore showed potential during his first season with the Bearkats. He played fewer than ten minutes per game, but did average 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds. He is also the type of forward that can stretch the defense. But the first player off of the bench this season will likely be Dakarai Henderson. He knocked down an amazing 41 three-pointers while playing just a dozen minutes per game. That is the definition of an offensive spark off of the bench. Sam Houston State may have trouble with Stephen F. Austin again this season, but they should be able to make the race closer.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Jabari Peters, Senior, Guard, 12.6 points per game
Paul Baxter, Junior, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Kaheem Ransom, Senior, Guard, 11.6 points per game
DeMarcus Gatlin, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Michael Holyfield, Senior, Center, 6.5 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.6 (56th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.5 (157, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.2 (75, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.0 (194, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (85, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.2 (21, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (270, 9)
Rebound Margin: 1.9 (124, 5)
Assists Per Game: 15.7 (17, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (224, 6)


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