#33 Southern Methodist Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

SMU Mustangs

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #33
Conference Rank: #2 American

SMU Team Page#33 Southern Methodist Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy SMU Basketball Tickets

Larry Brown’s 2013-14 Mustangs managed 23 wins prior to postseason play, yet failed to reach the NCAA Tournament. They were arguably the biggest snub by the selection committee in March. A team with so many victories, coming from a major conference (as much as the AAC is considered major anymore) and led by an historic coach should have no problem reaching the field of 68 as an at-large, yet that is just what SMU failed to do. The main problem for this team was a lack of quality wins. Twenty-three regular season wins is impressive but nothing of note came out-of-conference. Outside of a few good home W’s, SMU’s only good win was a road victory over Connecticut. That will need to change if Brown hopes to get his team into tournament play this season.

2013-14 Record: 27-10, 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Larry Brown
Coach Record: 42-27 at Southern Methodist, 219-88 overall

Who’s Out:
Little was made out of SMU making it to the NIT championship game. That is simply not the goal of most college basketball programs playing in a major conference. With an NCAA Tourney-or-bust belief, the Mustangs enter 2014-15 with expectations because most of their roster is returning. Coach Brown went very deep with his rotation a season ago. Ten different players averaged at least 12 minutes per game and 11 saw action in at least 23 contests. Losing three rotation players would normally harm a team the following season; SMU losing just three of 11 though doesn’t sound so bad. Shawn Williams, Crandall Head and Nick Russell can be easily replaced even though Williams and Russell were starters. The biggest loss for SMU this offseason was a player who never actually played for the Mustangs. Top high school recruit Emmanuel Mudiay committed to Larry Brown and SMU. Then, over the summer, he changed his mind and decided to go play professional overseas instead. A projected top five NBA draft pick, Mudiay would have been a huge asset for the Mustangs. Instead, they are left thinking what could have been.

Who’s In:
Because of the depth returning for Brown, he was only bringing in one recruit this season. With Mudiay moving on, SMU will have zero freshmen on its roster this year. The transfer market was a bit busier, but a couple of those incoming will be ineligible. Ben Emelogu and Jordan Tolbert will both be forced to sit out 2014-15. The only new guy entering the fray is Xavier grad-transfer Justin Martin. Martin is a good scoring forward who can shoot a bit and grabbed over five rebounds per game last year as a Musketeer. He should be a useful asset on this club. The rest of the roster is all returning Mustangs ready for increased roles.

Who to Watch:
The reason hopes are so high for this team even without Mudiay is because of the great mix of experienced players and talented youngsters. Leading scorer Nic Moore returns for his junior season. The 5-9 guard shoots it well and is a weapon from distance. High-upside sophomores Sterling Brown and Keith Frazier also return in the backcourt hoping to build on promising freshmen campaigns and contribute more this year. Perhaps what’s most exciting about this team though is the potential rotation in the frontcourt. SMU’s leading rebounder and shot blocker, Marcus Kennedy, returns to man one forward position. Kennedy was second on the team in scoring, tied for first in steals, shot 53.4 percent from the floor and did all that in only 25 minutes per night. He will be joined up front by two gigantic senior centers as well, if opponents weren’t already afraid of facing this team. Cannen Cunningham (6-10) and Yanick Moreira (6-11) will look to increase their own roles in 2014-15 and complement Kennedy inside the arc. Outside of AAC fans, Moreira may be the most notable name on SMU’s roster. The Angolan was a force this summer during the FIBA basketball World Cup. He averaged 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and shot 59.4 percent from the floor for the tournament. He was arguably the most impressive collegiate player on any team at the world cup.

Final Projection:
Even with all those top contributors to keep an eye on, there are still more promising Mustangs returning for Larry Brown’s rotation. He shuffled players in and out all season in 2013-14. The same will have to be done this year. While the talent of the specific starting five may be lower than most clubs, it is also almost irrelevant. The strength of the team is its depth. Without Mudiay and with such a diminutive leading scorer, the SMU roster lends itself to sharing the load. The only way this team doesn’t get over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament this season is if the rotation never meshes and Brown can’t settle on a lineup that works. With so many options, it could be tricky for a coach to have players he trusts in crunch time of games. If a few late losses start mounting, changes could come and second-guessing comes into play. Brown is one of the most experienced coaches in the nation though. He has this team built the way he wants it.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Nic Moore, Junior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Sterling Brown, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Ben Moore, Sophomore, Forward, 6.2 points per game
Markus Kennedy, Junior, Forward, 12.4 points per game
Yanick Moreira, Senior, Center, 6.0 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.0 (177th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.2 (24, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.3 (18, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.5 (7, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.7 (320, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.3 (227, 5)
Rebound Margin: 4.8 (36, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.2 (34, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (267, 9)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#2 Emmanuel Mudiay

See All Top 144 Basketball Previews