#113 Lousiana Tech: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #113
Conference Rank: #4 Western Athletic Conference
2009-10: 24-11, 9-7
2009-10 postseason: CIT
Coach: Kerry Rupp (45-53 at Louisiana Tech, 54-57 overall)
Coach Kerry Rupp has done a great job at Louisiana Tech. In his first season with the Bulldogs, the team went a dismal 6-24 overall. The following year they improved to 15-18. That led to higher expectations during the 2009-2010 campaign and the Bulldogs did not disappoint with a 24 win season and a trip to the postseason. The roster may look much different without second round draft pick Magnum Rolle and super scorer Kyle Gibson, but this team has enough talent, albeit relatively inexperienced talent, to return to the postseason.
Key Losses: G Kyle Gibson, G Jamel Guyton, F David Jackson, C Magnum Rolle
There are a whole slew of newcomers as Coach Rupp looks to fill his roster. The most important players will likely turn out to be the four transfers coming into the program. Three of them are big men. Antwond Roshell is the most likely candidate to step into Rolle’s big shoes, but J.L. Lewis and Romario Souza will need to play some as well. The frontcourt also adds freshmen Stojan Gjuroski and Deuce Johnson. The transfer heading into the backcourt is C.J. Scott. However, there are some freshmen who will look to make an impact in the backcourt this year, most notably Jamison Sterns and Kenyon McNeaill. Sterns is a superb scorer from anywhere on the floor and McNeaill is the point guard of the future. Lonnie Smith will bring more size to the perimeter, but he may find it difficult to steal minutes away from the returning players and the other newcomers during his freshman campaign.
Despite the absence of Gibson and fellow starting guard Jamel Guyton, the group on the perimeter is in pretty good shape. DeAndre Brown has proven to be a quality point guard who can create for his teammates or score himself. A season ago he averaged 10.6 points and 3.4 assists per game and his point production could drastically increase if he starts hitting the three-point shot a little more consistently. Anson Barlett returns after spending much of last season coming in off the bench. He will likely do the same in 2010-2011, but he is an experienced option who can grab some boards from the wing. Louisiana Tech hopes the return of Brandon Gibson will help replace Kyle Gibson. Brandon Gibson did not play too much two years ago before breaking his foot and missing all of last season, but he is a great shooter and if he can find his stroke, he will be one of the top scorers on this team.
Replacing Rolle in the paint will be the bigger issue. If one of the newcomers is not up for the job, the Bulldogs will be in big trouble. Rolle averaged 13.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks during his last season in Ruston and no newcomer is going to do that right away. Ideally, Roshell will handle most of the load and Rouza and the rest of the newcomers can help him out a little bit. The lone returning forward is 6-5, 215 pound Darius Redding. Obviously he lacks the size to play the five spot, so it is imperative that one of the new big guys can at least play some defense and score a few points. Redding, however, is coming off of a decent freshman campaign and should be able to capably fill in off the bench at the three and four spots.
Who to Watch:
So why is the frontcourt not a complete mess and this team expected to fall apart up front without Rolle? The answer is Olu Ashaolu. The 6-7 wing may be listed as a guard, but spent last season at the four spot beside Rolle. And Ashaolu was nearly as productive as Rolle in the scoring and rebounding departments. Ashaolu will keep the frontcourt together and pick up any interior scoring and rebounding slack that the newcomers cannot handle.
The one thing Ashaolu cannot do is block shots. That job will have to fall to Roshell or one of the other newcomers. Despite the inexperience, Louisiana Tech has plenty of scoring options, but playing defense will be the difference between another postseason berth or another losing season. With as many options as Coach Rupp has up front, somebody should be able to fill the void in the paint and the guards will lead this team to a 20 win season.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
DeAndre Brown, Senior, Guard, 10.6 ppg
Jamison Sterns, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Brandon Gibson, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Olu Ashaolu, Junior, Forward, 10.7 ppg
Antwond Roshell, Junior, Center, DNP last season
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