#130 Florida Atlantic: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #130
Conference Rank: #3 Sun Belt Conference
2009-10: 14-16, 10-8
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Mike Jarvis (20-42 at Florida Atlantic, 365-244 overall)
Coach Mike Jarvis has revitalized the Florida Atlantic basketball program. In his first season leading the Owls, the team went 6-26 overall and won just two conference games. Last season the Owls jumped up to a 14-16 record and did quite well in the very tough east division of the Sun Belt Conference. This season the team should make another big jump since they only lose one player, but is that enough for a postseason berth?
Key Losses: G Sanchez Hughley
Incoming freshmen Dennis Mavin and Pablo Bertone will add some depth to the backcourt and one thing this team could use is a little depth on the perimeter. Mavin and Bertone will not be asked to do too much, but they are both talented players who can find a place in the regular rotation. Kore White, a transfer from Marshall, will also be suiting for the Owls for the first time in 2010-2011. White did not play much for the Thundering Herd two years ago, but he was part of the regular rotation by the end of the season. The 6-8 sophomore is a better player than he was two years ago and should at least be a capable forward who can play 15 to 20 minutes per game.
Do not let Raymond Taylor’s 5-7 size fool you. He is a superb scorer and a surprisingly good rebounder for a player of his stature. Taylor is a fine outside shooter and will use his size as an advantage to sneak through the paint and finish around the basket. Taylor is also a superb ball handler and the catalyst of the offense. While he did average 14.2 points per game last season, he has plenty of scoring help from Greg Gantt and Shavar Richardson. Gantt was the team’s leading scorer last year and the most prolific outside shooter. He should fill that role again as a sophomore. Richardson, a 6-3 junior, is the perfect bench player for FAU. Last year he played less than 20 minutes per game, but still averaged 8.4 points and knocked down 1.5 three-pointers per game.
Brett Royster is the only senior on the roster and he will be looked upon as a leader on and off the floor, but there is some other emerging talent in the frontcourt. On the floor he is coming off of a great junior campaign in which he averaged 10.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Royster is the big man under the basket and commands constant double teaming to be stopped effectively. At times Coach Jarvis started a four guard offense with Royster in the middle, but that should happen less this season, especially without the rebounding ability of Hughley. DeMonte Simpson is the likely candidate to step into a starting role as long as he can stay out of foul trouble. Simpson has a large frame and can free up space in the paint. While he will not do too much scoring himself, he is a solid rebounder and a good glue player. Jordan McCoy, Justin Davis and Andre Mattison all started at least two games last year and should provide plenty of depth to the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
The wildcard on this team is Alex Tucker. The 5-11 guard started 16 games last season and really saw his playing time increase as the 2009-2010 season progressed. The 5-11 junior ended the campaign with an average of 6.4 points and 4.7 assists, but those numbers do not do justice to his impact on the team late in the season. The dilemma is Taylor and Tucker are a little undersized to both be starting. However, if Simpson can stay out of foul trouble, this is a team that can afford to have two sub 6-0 footers on the floor at the same time.
The emergence of Tucker also allows Taylor to spend time off the ball and that is not a bad thing. Taylor may be undersized, but he is a prolific scorer who performs just fine as a shooting guard. The Sun Belt will be tough with some more traditional powers sporting strong teams, but Florida Atlantic is a sleeper to make some noise in the conference and reach a postseason tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Alex Tucker, Junior, Guard, 6.4 ppg
Ray Taylor, Sophomore, Guard, 14.2 ppg
Greg Gantt, Sophomore, Guard, 15.6 ppg
DeMonte Simpson, Sophomore, Forward, 4.6 ppg
Brett Royster, Senior, Forward, 10.0 ppg
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