Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Overall Rank: #140
Conference Rank: #4 Sun Belt Conference
2008-09: 18-14, 10-8
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Kermit Davis (118-96 at Middle Tennessee State, 189-140 overall)
Middle Tennessee State could not keep up with teams like Western Kentucky and Troy during the 2008-2009 campaign. However, nobody could keep up with WKU and the Blue Raiders dominated Troy last December. Injuries are rarely a good excuse, but it is fair to say that MTSU and Coach Kermit Davis suffered because of the injury bug. Now their problem is replacing a slew of contributors in the backcourt.
Key Losses: G Eric Allen, G Demetrius Green, G Kevin Kanaskie, G Nigel Johnson
In order to address the needs on the perimeter, Coach Davis has brought in a great group of newcomers who should have little problem filling the void. Junior college transfer Rod Emanuel is a great all-around player who will do whatever his team needs him to do. He can make shots or get to the basket. Ideally, Emanuel will be playing at the two guard spot and not run the point, but that will partially depend on the play of incoming freshman Michael Washington, John David Little and Jonathan Gallman. All three of those guys can play the point and at least one of them better be ready to play a big role right away. Junior college transfer Trevor Ottley, a 6-9 forward, will also have to at least play some important minutes off the bench.
The only returning option to run the point is DeMario Williams. As a freshman Williams averaged less than ten minutes per game and had an assist-to-turnover ratio that was in the red. He is certainly not going to be given the starting job and all the newcomers will battle with him. If all the underclassmen do not work out, Emanuel could be the guy to run the show. That would provide room for Calvin O’Neil and Montarrio Haddock to fit into the starting lineup. O’Neil is not a flashy scorer or a great shooter, but he is the glue guy in the backcourt. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Haddock has the size to play the four spot yet he will likely fill in on the wing for this team and provide some depth at forward when necessary. Haddock has the potential for a huge senior season after averaging 9.9 points and 5.2 rebounds last year.
This is where it gets interesting. Desmond Yates is a superstar and a scoring machine. The 6-7 senior should average 20 points per game this year. Last year he tallied 17.2 points per game and was forced to spend most of his time at the center spot. Yates, who can hit the outside shot relatively efficiently, is much better suited to be a power forward. The injury to Theryn Hudson forced the position change. Now Hudson is back and needs to have a big year to help take the pressure off of Yates and keep him at the power forward spot.
Who to Watch:
If Hudson can stay healthy and productive, that would allow Yates to spend most of his time at the four spot and Haddock to spend most of his time at the three spot. That would suddenly turn this team into a tall team that would be effective on the glass. The depth would be a little slim and players like Donaries Hair and newcomers like Ottley would have to play an important role off the bench.
This team has potential if they can stay healthy. Maybe they will not be able to knock off WKU, but they could at least reach a postseason tournament of some sort if all goes well. But for all to go well Coach Davis has to find a consistent point guard or two and hope Hudson can stay healthy and put up numbers like he did in 2007-2008 when he averaged 9.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
DeMario Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 2.2 points per game
Rod Emanuel, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Montarrio Haddock, Senior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Desmond Yates, Senior, Forward, 17.2 points per game
Theryn Hudson, Senior, Center, 2.1 points per game