#109 Western Michigan Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Western Michigan Broncos

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #109
Conference Rank: #2 Mid-American

Western Michigan Team Page#109 Western Michigan Men's Basketball 2014 PreviewBuy Western Michigan Basketball Tickets

Western Michigan’s season ended with a tough draw against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. The Mid-American Conference is not known for playing zone defense, so the Broncos offense quickly sputtered against the Orange. They ended up losing 77-53. But WMU had a great season leading up to that NCAA Tournament appearance, going 14-4 in conference play. But this year’s success or failure depends heavily on the eligibility of David Brown. He averaged 19.1 points per game and knocked down 80 three-pointers. If the NCAA rejects Brown’s petition for a sixth year of eligibility, the Broncos have a huge hole to fill.

2013-14 Record: 23-10, 14-4
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Hawkins
Coach Record: 204-155 at Western Michigan, 204-155 overall

Who’s Out:
Even if Brown is back, Coach Steve Hawkins has a big hole to fill with the departure of Shayne Whittington. The 6-11 center averaged 16.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during his senior season. Western Michigan will look much smaller without Whittington on the floor and nobody will come close to replacing his production any time soon. The only other departure is little used guard Hayden Hoerdemann.

Who’s In:
Western Michigan needs big bodies and incoming freshmen Khadim Dieng and Drake Lamont certainly fit the bill. Dieng, at 6-11 and 200 pounds, is surprisingly polished for a young player his size. He has work to do, but Dieng has the ability to contribute right away. Lamont is the better overall prospect and, at 240 pounds, has more girth for battling in the paint. Incoming freshman Thomas Wilder and redshirt freshman Bishop Robinson should have some time to develop their games, especially if Brown is back and on the floor and chewing up 35 minutes a game.

Who to Watch:
Austin Richie, Connar Tava and Tucker Haymond are a great group to build around. Richie, a senior point guard, averaged 7.9 points and 2.3 assists last season and has done a fine job setting up the scorers on the team while doing a little bit of scoring himself when necessary. Tava is one of those scorers. The 6-6 forward averaged 11.8 points per game during his sophomore season, yet he is much more than just a scorer. Tava is a strong rebounder and even led the team with 2.9 assists per game. Having a power forward that you can work the offense through adds a tough dynamic to the Broncos offense that most teams across the country have a tough time defending. Haymond had a very good freshman season despite inconsistencies in the shooting department. He still managed to average 7.1 points per game and grabbed 3.8 rebounds. If he keeps improving, Haymond will help replace the lost scoring. The Broncos also have a large group of returnees who did not see much playing time last season. Outside of the usual starting five and returning reserve guard Taylor Perry, nobody on the team averaged more than a dozen minutes per game. It may be asking a lot for players like Jared Klein, Matt McCormick and A.J. Avery to step into major roles, but some will prove to be ready for the minutes. McCormick, the son of former Michigan great and broadcaster Tim McCormick, is a candidate to start at the five spot. He is mostly a shooter, but at 6-8 and 215 pounds he has enough size to battle in the paint against most opponents.

Final Projection:
Coach Hawkins will find the pieces he needs to run a seven or eight man rotation. One concern is finding a true center to put in the middle. Freshmen Dieng and Lamont, along with sophomore Mario Matasovic, are the three players on the roster who are traditional post players. They can get by with McCormick and even Tava spending some time there, yet the more minutes the Broncos can get out of Dieng, Lamont and Matasovic, the better. And, of course, the main issue is the eligibility of Brown. Losing a player who will average about 20 points per game will be huge and likely the difference between another MAC title and a major step back.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Austin Richie, Senior, Guard, 7.9 points per game
David Brown, Senior, Guard, 19.1 points per game
Tucker Haymond, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 points per game
Connar Tava, Junior, Forward, 11.8 points per game
Kellen McCormick, Sophomore, Forward, 2.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.9 (138th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.7 (111, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (71, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.1 (57, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (198, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (228, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (81, 3)
Rebound Margin: 1.8 (127, 5)
Assists Per Game: 11.4 (264, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (307, 9)


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