#116 Oral Roberts: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #116
Conference Rank: #3 Summit League
2009-10: 20-13, 13-5
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Scott Sutton (204-138 at Oral Roberts, 204-138 overall)
Oral Roberts season was almost over before it started. Following injuries to promising freshmen Hunter McClintock and Tim Morton, point guard Rod Pearson went down with a knee injury four games into the season. That left little hope for the Golden Eagles, especially at the point guard position, but Coach Scott Sutton rallied his troops and pulled off an impressive 20-13 overall record and a third place finish in the Summit League. That should have been enough for a postseason berth, but apparently it was not.
Key Losses: F Kevin Ford
McClintock is a dynamic point guard who could have been a great replacement for Pearson if he was healthy a year ago. Instead he was forced to watch from the sidelines. This year he will still not be asked to do too much since Pearson is back, but McClintock has the ability to provide a great spark off the bench and allow Pearson to rest without any drop off in talent. Steven Roundtree is a big wing who has some room to improve and Jake Lliteras will provide even more depth on the perimeter. Junior college transfer Chris Angsomwine could provide some more depth in the frontcourt if he is ready to play at this level.
Without Pearson and McClintock, Ken Holdman stepped into the starting lineup and did an admirable job. The sophomore ended the campaign averaging 5.5 points, 1.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds and proved to be a solid defender. Holdman was not expecting to handle all of the ballhandling duties and Warren Niles gave him some help. Niles is the more dynamic scorer and the best outside shooter on the team. Not only did he knock down nearly two three-pointers per game, but he also does a decent job attacking the basket and finishing around the rim. Kyron Stokes started 17 games last year on the wing. The 6-5 junior is not much of a scorer, but he will help out the frontcourt with his ability to rebound.
Stokes will not likely start much this season unless Coach Sutton decides to move Niles to the bench again. The small forward spot is Dominique Morrison’s. Morrison led the team with 15.3 points per game last season and is a great all-around player. The only player to start all 33 games last season, Morrison can score from anywhere on the floor, hit the glass, find his teammates and play pretty good defense. The key to this team will be the play of the rest of the frontcourt. Michael Craion is an undersized power forward, but his size did not stop him from averaging 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks a year ago. Replacing Kevin Ford is the big issue and Damen Bell-Holter should be the guy who steps into that role. As a freshman last year Bell-Holter averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in limited playing time. If he is ready to step up his game on both ends of the floor, ORU’s frontcourt will be in pretty good shape…at least the starters.
Who to Watch:
The depth up front may be the difference between a Summit League title and second or third place finish, but the play of Pearson will go a long way in determining how well this team does. Pearson was not exactly lighting it up during his first four games in 2009-2010. He hit some big shots and made some nice passes, but he has a history of turnover problems. Certainly the point guard position is in much, much better shape than it was last year assuming Pearson and McClintock can stay healthy, but ORU needs to keep the turnovers down if they want to win a conference title.
If the turnovers stay down and the newcomers can provide quality depth to an already young frontcourt, Oral Roberts can win the league. That may be asking a little too much from Roundtree and Angsomwine. Even without great play from the five spot or the rest of the frontcourt off of the bench, this is a team that has more than enough talent to avoid being snubbed by the postseason again this year.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Rod Pearson, Junior, Guard, 4.5 ppg
Warren Niles, Sophomore, Guard, 12.8 ppg
Dominique Morrison, Junior, Forward, 15.3 ppg
Michael Craion, Senior, Forward, 13.3 ppg
Damen Bell-Holter, Sophomore, Center, 4.6 ppg
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