#43 Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA
#43 Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview
Middle Tennessee Team Page


Last year Middle Tennessee lost three of their first four games. They only lost two others the rest of the year. Once again the Blue Raiders dominated Conference USA with a 15-1 record and cruised through the conference tournament. That led to a #8 seed in the NCAAs, but the offense could not get anything going in a disappointing 55-36 loss to Oregon State in the first round. Whether it is in the Sun Belt or CUSA, Coach Rick Insell has turned MTSU into a regular in the NCAA Tournament. There is some serious rebuilding to do, but this team has the talent to wind up on top of the league again.

2013-14 Record: 29-5, 15-1
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Insell
Coach Record: 228-66 at Middle Tennessee, 228-66 overall

The focus for the Blue Raiders will shift to the backcourt for now. Shanice Cason averaged 7.7 points and 2.4 assists as a junior and will be relied upon to be the senior leader of this relatively young team. Like the rest of the team though, she could stand to be more consistent with her jumper. China Dow, a part-time starter as a freshman, has the potential to emerge as a consistent threat for the Blue Raiders. She averaged just 4.1 points per game in about 11 minutes per contest, but she did have flashes of potential. Coach Insell has also brought in 5-10 wing Brea Edwards from the junior college ranks. But the new star of the team will likely be 5-10 sophomore wing Olivia Jones. She averaged 8.4 points per game and is capable of shooting over most opponents from long range. However, she only connected on 20.4 percent of her many attempts from beyond the arc and will need to be more efficient or use her size and strength to get to the basket more often.

Jones will also be asked to do a lot on the glass. She is by far the team’s best returning rebounder. The frontcourt has big shoes to fill with the graduation of Ebony Rowe. Rowe led the team with 21.6 points and 11.6 rebounds and was the main reason for this team’s recent success. Also gone is 6-1 KeKe Stewart, who was second on the team with 9.9 points per game and added more size to the team. Jones can only do so much though and Middle Tennessee will need significant production from forwards like TiAnna Porter, Caya Williams and Cheyenne Parker. Porter spent her freshman campaign at Pitt, but failed to make much of an impact during her first season with the Blue Raiders. Williams got off to a slow start as a freshman due to an injury, but is a great talent who is capable of stepping up now that minutes are available. At 6-4, Cheyenne Parker is the tallest player on the roster. She spent three years at High Point and averaged 17.9 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks. Even if the scoring takes a significant step back with the tougher opposition, Parker will be a superb defender and solid rebounder right away.

Final Projection:
Without Rowe and Stewart, Middle Tennessee is going to look quite a bit different. But there is plenty of talent here for this group to dominate Conference USA just as much as they did a year ago. Rowe was a once in a generation type of player, but Parker can handle much of what she did defensively and the rest of the team is capable of scoring. However, this team will still win games with their defense. MTSU ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense and never make it easy for the opposition to get a clean look at the basket.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Shanice Cason, Senior, Guard, 7.7 points per game
China Dow, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Brea Edwards, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Olivia Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Cheyenne Parker, Senior, Forward, DNP last season

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.7 (190th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.2 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 39.6 (204, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 36.6 (27, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (121, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 27.8 (261, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 62.7 (321, 16)
Rebound Margin: 3.8 (76, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (228, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.6 (85, 3)


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