Morgan State Golden Bears
Overall Rank: #126
Conference Rank: #1 MEAC
2007-08: 22-11, 14-2, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NIT
In the end, it must have been disappointing for Morgan State. The Golden Bears dominated the conference and won 20 games heading into the conference tournament. But a two point loss at the hands of Coppin State saw the Eagles head to the NCAA Tournament while Morgan State was relegated to the NIT. A few key players are gone and that means Jermaine Bolden will step into the starting point guard role. The 5-9 senior proved last year that he can be a very effective point guard. Now he will just have to do it more often.
Bolden’s return makes the loss of Jerrell Green more bearable. Bolden is a better shooter than Green was and, as long as Bolden uses his speed to drive and dish a little more, the point guard position will be in good hands. The loss of leading scorer Jamar Smith will hurt more. Smith averaged 16.6 points per game and very few of those points came from outside shooting. Smith got to the basket extremely well and that aspect of his game will be missed at Morgan State. Despite those big losses, Boubacar Coly is the biggest loss of them all, at least literally. The 6-9 forward was a monster on the glass and in the shot blocking department. It will take a combined effort to replace his productivity in the frontcourt and losing Karanvir Aujla and Chris Moore, who only played in nine games last year before leaving the program, gives Coach Todd Bozeman fewer options.
Buford Foote, Anthony Anderson and Kevin Thompson will try to supplement the frontcourt. Foote, a 6-10 junior college transfer, has the most experience to step in right away and make an impact. It is doubtful that he will put up numbers like Coly right away, but he can certainly score, grab some rebounds and block a few shots. Thompson, who redshirted last season as a freshman, tallied a double-double in every high school game he started. The scoring will not come quite as easy in the MEAC, but the team could use his hustle and 6-8, 235 pound frame under the basket. Jarrod Denard and Troy Smith, a junior college transfer, will add more depth on the wings.
Who to Watch:
The Golden Bears went through a ton of power forwards last year while trying to find the right player to compliment Coly under the basket. Gene Johnson started 14 games, Gilroy Hemsley tallied ten and Rodney Stokes started four games…and those are just the returning players. None of them put up great numbers and one or more of that group will have to step up now that Coly is gone or one of the newcomers could steal away their minutes. Marquise Kately could be the answer at the four, but he usually is at the three spot. Kately, who averaged 13.1 points and 5.9 rebounds last year, is only 6-5 and should spend most of his time at the small forward spot. Yet, he is tough enough to battle under the basket if the Bears want to run a three guard offense and have an extra shooter on the floor. No matter where Kately plays, he will do plenty of scoring around the basket.
Along with Kately, Reggie Holmes will take over much of the scoring left behind by Smith. Unlike Smith, Holmes is an outside shooter. Holmes came off the bench most of his sophomore year, but he still averaged 12.9 points per game. His outside shooting is his most obvious asset, but Holmes will use his 6-4 frame to get to the basket. That ability to score in a multitude of ways will lead to a great year for Holmes and a great year for Holmes means a great year for Morgan State. Bears fans just hope they do not fall two points shy again in the conference tournament final.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jermaine Bolden, Senior, Guard, 5.4 points per game
Reggie Holmes, Junior, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Marquise Kately, Senior, Forward, 13.1 points per game
Gilroy Hemsley, Junior, Forward, 0.9 points per game
Buford Foote, Junior, Center, DNP last season