2007-08 Eastern Kentucky Basketball Preview
Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Overall Rank: #140
Conference Rank: #2 Ohio Valley
2006-07: 21-12, 13-7, 2nd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Eastern Kentucky only had six players who averaged over ten minutes per game during their 2006-2007 NCAA Tournament season. Returning four of those players is nice, but it does leave a couple major gaps that will need to be filled by inexperienced players. Josh Daniel, Josh Taylor and Harrison Brown do not have experience, but have enough talent to be bigger contributors.
Guard Julian Mascoll and forward Michael Brock are the two players that need to be replaced. Mascoll averaged 11.1 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals as a senior and those numbers will not be easily substituted. Brock was never a prolific scorer, but the power forward led the team in rebounds last year and did the dirty work under the basket. Without Mascoll leading the way, the returning starting backcourt duo of Adam Leonard and Mike Rose will need to develop into leaders on and off the floor. Derek Adams left the team early last season after seeing action in only two contests.
The Colonels could use some depth and they may find another Leonard, who had a surprisingly impressive freshman campaign last year, in this batch. The likely candidates to break out immediately are guards Justin Stommes and Rodney Ford. Stommes is a great shooter for a 6-6 wing, but will have to work harder to get open at the college level. As long as he can get more intense on defense, Coach Jeff Neubauer will give Stommes an opportunity as a freshman. Ford demonstrated that he could score, pass, block shots and hit the glass very effectively during his prep career in St. Louis. The 6-4 guard posted some ridiculous numbers all over the box score and is an interesting do-it-all prospect in the mold of Mascoll. Ryan Dilman, who redshirted last year, is a smart point guard who will add some depth to the backcourt. Incoming freshman Deveyon Hunter will battle for some minutes at small forward, but it is the return of Ryan Wiersma that makes it much easier to replace the departed Brock. Wiersma, a 6-6 forward, missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He missed most of the 2005-2006 campaign with the same affliction and it may take some time for the junior to get back into the flow of the game. But there is no doubt Wiersma will work hard to be even more effective than he was before the injury.
Who to Watch:
Leonard and Rose were the top two scorers a year ago and they will need to develop into more than simply scorers this year. Without Mascoll’s leadership, it falls on the talented duo to lead the team. Leonard averaged 12.5 points and 2.6 assists during his freshman campaign. The problem is most of those points were from long range. Eight of his ten shots per game were from beyond the arc. With a little more strength and confidence driving the lane, Leonard will become one of the best in the OVC. Rose is no stranger to the three-pointer either and, now as an upperclassman, will be taking all the big shots for Eastern Kentucky. Leonard and Rose are still relatively young and developing players. If they continue to improve, EKU will be looking for another NCAA Tournament.
Big man Darnell Dialls kept the perimeter open by developing into a solid scoring threat under the basket. Getting 8.7 points per game out of Dialls again will keep the opposing defense off balance, and his superb passing does not hurt, but he will need to increase his production on the boards to help cover the loss of Brock. Jamaal Douglas will be asked to do the same. After earning 11 starts in his first season in Richmond, Jamaal Douglas is expected to do more for his senior season. The transfer from Lafayette was the leading rebounder in the Patriot League in 2004-2005 and has the tools to be more than the sixth man.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Adam Leonard, Sophomore, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Mike Rose, Junior, Guard, 15.1 points per game
Josh Taylor, Sophomore, Forward, 2.7 points per game
Jamaal Douglas, Senior, Forward, 6.2 points per game
Darnell Dialls, Senior, Forward, 8.7 points per game