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College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

September 8th, 2006


Tennessee Tech Head Coach Mike Sutton


Last year's Tennessee Tech squad was consistently solid, with solid early non-conference wins and an impressive 13-7 record in OVC play.  With their starting backcourt returning, and a lot of experience up front, the Golden Eagles are a serious contender for the conference title.


Shawn Siegel (CHN): How does this year's schedule stack up to recent years?

Mike Sutton (MS): Last years' schedule was one of the toughest in school history, with wins over Milwaukee-Wisconsin and Oregon St. with road games against Michigan St., Cincinnati, and Dayton to go with an ever improving OVC schedule.  Tennessee, Bradley, UMW, Kansas State, Ole Miss and the San Juan Shootout could prove to be more formidable this season.



CHN: What will the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team to be?

MS: Hopefully our strenghts will be better interior play with the return of Jon Jones, Amadi McKenzie, Francis Kabore, Ra'shun Bryant, and newcomer Daniel Northern.  With experience and adding Northern to the mix (eligilbe at semester as he is a transfer from South Alabama) on the front line, we anticipate more effective inside play.  We will have to replace three starters on the perimeter so we will need to get contributions from new players to give us the depth we want on the perimeter.  Anthony Fisher and Belton Rivers should shoulder the load at the guard spots and one of the keys will be to find another perimeter player that can be counted on.



CHN: How hard will it be to deal with the losses of last year's seniors?


MS:  Keyon Boyd, Milone Clark, and Derek Stribling were all major contributors during their career.  Replacing their versatility and experience will be one of the keys in improving on last years 19 win season. 

Fisher, Rivers, and McKenzie will all have to step up their games to help replace the loss of the seniors.

CHN: Are you pretty well settled with your starting lineup? If not, what should we expect to be the biggest battles for a starting position?

MS: Lots of players played major minutes last year, but look for starters to come from the group Rivers, Fisher, McKenzie, Jones, Kabore, Koger, Bryant and Northern when he becomes eligible.  The biggest battle be at the wing to see who gets the minutes that Clark and Stribling shared there.

CHN: Talk about one or two of your guys that stands out as being an unheralded leader and contributor?


MS: Jon Jones is a senior forward who is one of our team leaders and his statistics don't reflect his value to the squad.  Jon was hurt late in the season and missed several games and we saw his value during that process as he was the team's best post defender and most vocal leader.

Francis Kabore started every game for us last year and showed tremendous improvement as he learned the system.

CHN: What should we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?

MS:  Daniel Northern 6'9 transfer from USA becomes eligilbe at the semester and should bring additional athleticism and shot blocking to the front court.

Will Barnes and Frank Davis should provide depth in the back court as freshmen and will be counted on to work with Anthony Fisher and Belton Rivers, the team's top two returning scorers from last season.

Realistically, what should we expect out of your team this year?


MS:  To compete for the OVC championship and to be playing well for the tournament title and the NCAA birth that goes with it in March.  In '05 the Golden Eagles won the conference championship and followed that up with a 19 win season in '06 and dealt with the difficulty of the Head Coach's hospitalization and ongoing recovery of Guillen Barre Syndrome (GBS).  I was really proud of how the players and coaching staff dealt with the adversity. 


CHN: Thanks coach.  Good luck.


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