Troy Trojans Basketball Preview: #116
Overall Rank: #116
Conference Rank: #3 Sun Belt Conference
2008-09: 19-13, 14-4
2008-09 postseason: CBI
Coach: Don Maestri (455-326 at Troy, 455-326 overall)
Troy finished up Sun Belt play with an impressive 14-4 record, but that was not enough to unseat Western Kentucky from their perch high above the rest of the playing field in the conference. The Trojans had won 12 of their last 13 games heading into the postseason, but then things got bad. They lost to South Alabama in their first game of the conference tournament and fell to the College of Charleston in the opening round of the CBI. Some key players are gone, but some better players are coming in and this year should be better than last for the Trojans.
Key Losses: C Tom Jervis, F Mario Telfair, F Kenny Ware
The frontcourt lost three key contributors, including starting center Tom Jervis, but Yamene Coleman should make up for that. Coleman is eligible immediately after transferring in from Alabama. Last year he averaged 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Crimson Tide and his 6-9, 240 pound frame will be a welcome addition in the paint. The other two newcomers are also experienced players. Junior college transfers Vernon Taylor and Levan Patsatsia are both capable of making an impact on the wing.
However, there will not be much room for Taylor and Patsatsia on this year’s team. The Trojans return a trio of superstars in the backcourt led by point guard Michael Vogler. The 6-1 senior dished out 5.8 assists per game and only turned the ball over 2.7 times. And somehow he managed to find a way to score 10.4 points, grab 4.0 rebounds and nab 2.0 steals per game as well. Vogler is a superb floor leader and has the tools to do anything his team needs him to do. Yet, it is Brandon Hazzard and Richard Delk who are the true scorers on this team.
Antywan Jones rarely put up big numbers, but the 6-6 forward is not afraid to do the dirty work under the basket and earned 22 starts last season. He could start at the four and Coleman could come in and start at the five spot, but there are a couple other factors that play into Troy’s frontcourt for the 2009-2010 campaign. Trayce Macon redshirted last season, but two years ago he started 23 games and averaged 7.1 points and 4.2 boards. Bernard Toombs also redshirted last season after seeing some playing time in 2007-2008. At 6-10, Toombs has the size to fill in some minutes at the five spot, but it is the return of Macon, and the addition of Coleman, that makes the frontcourt almost as dangerous as the backcourt.
Who to Watch:
But it will take a massive effort from the frontcourt to be as dangerous as Hazzard and Delk. Hazzard is the shooter of the two and connected on an incredible 44.9 percent of his attempts from long range. He may not score 16.2 points per game again since the Trojans have more weapons this year, but he certainly has the ability to do so. Delk is the more versatile scorer who can hit the long ball or get to the basket. More importantly, Delk is a quality rebounder and a solid passer who nobody can guard easily.
Maybe they will not surpass Western Kentucky, but Troy should have very high aspirations for this season. Another postseason trip is a must and it could be the NCAA Tournament if this group can finally handle the big game situations. Another year of experience and a tough non-conference schedule should have Coach Don Maestri’s group ready to play in March.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Michael Vogler, Senior, Guard, 10.4 points per game
Brandon Hazzard, Senior, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Richard Delk, Senior, Guard, 13.9 points per game
Trayce Macon, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Yamene Coleman, Senior, Center, DNP last season