Preseason Preview: American

Team Intro

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 2017-’18 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. Following Chicago State is the American Eagles, second and last of the true dogs on Marquette’s schedule.

Team: American Eagles
16-17 Record: 8-22 (5-13 Patriot)
Postseason?: Nada
16-17 KenPom: 307
Date: 12/21/17
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center
Coach: Mike Brennan (5th Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 275-325
Projected Conference Finish: 9/10 in the Patriot

Departures from 16-17:
Charlie Jones: Starting G: 33.5 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.2 tpg, .551 FG%, .389 3P% (Graduated)
Delante Jones: Starting G: 31.6 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 3.1 tpg, .406 FG%, .339 3P% (Transferred to Seattle University)
Leon Tolksdorf: Starting F: 18.3 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.1 tpg, .318 FG%, .219 3P% (Only appeared in 14 games) (Graduated)
Lonnie Rivera: Starting F: 17.4 mpg, 5.0 rpg, 2.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 apg, 0.2 bpg, 1.0 tpg, .481 FG%, .429 3P% (Transferred to Wagner)
Jalen Rhea: 2nd Man off the Bench: 14.2 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.3 tpg, .369 FG%, .364 3P% (Graduated)
Alex Paquin: 4th Man off the Bench: 10.6 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .511 FG%, .438 3P% (Transferred to McGill Univeristy)
Andrija Matic: 5th Man off the Bench: 6.8 mpg, 1.3 pg, 1.2 rpg, 0.2 apg, 0.0 spg, 0.0 bpg, 0.4 tpg, .467 FG%, .500 3P% (Left Team for Personal Reasons)
Yilret Yiljep: Benchwarmer: Did not appear in any games (Graduated)
47% of scoring, 52% of rebounding, 51% of assists, 47% of steals, 52% of blocks, 69% of 3PM

Laurynas Motuzis: Transfer SG from NAIA St. Xavier University
CB Diallo: JUCO Transfer SG from JUCO Kilgore College
Jesse Little: 3 star C, ranked #401 by 247 Composite
Marvin Bragg: 2 star SG, unranked
Sam Iorio: 2 star SF, unranked
Stacy Beckton Jr: 2 star SG, unranked
Max Hoekstra: 2 star SF, unranked
Drew Lamont: 2 star PF, unranked
Justin Perez: Walk on PG, returns from redshirt
Tyler McFarland: Walk on SG
Nick Macarchuk IV: Walk on SF

Probable Starters:
PG: Sa’eed Nelson: 6-1 175 lb SO: 37.8 mpg, 14.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.9 tpg, .441 FG%, .218 3P%
SG: James Washington: 6-1 160 lb JR: 16.6 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .387 FG%, .256 3P%
SF: Cheikh “CB” Diallo: 6-1 167 lb JR: 24.5 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.0 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .408 FG%, .421 3P% (stats for JUCO Kilgore College)
PF: Laurynas “Larry” Motuzis: 6-6 200 lb RSJR: 32.8 mpg, 20.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.5 bpg, 2.1 tpg, .474 FG%, .409 3P% (15-16 stats from NAIA Saint Xavier University)
C: Mark Gasperini: 6-10 250 lb SO: 27.3 mpg, 11.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .489 FG%, .255 3P%

Probable Bench:
Jesse Little: 6-10 178 lb FR C
Matt Cimino: 6-10 212 lb RSJR C
Marvin Bragg: 6-6 190 lb FR SG
Sam Iorio: 6-5 215 lb FR SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Stacy Beckton Jr: 6-4 171 lb FR SG
Max Hoekstra: 6-5 177 lb FR SF
Drew Lamont: 6-7 210 lb FR PF
Kevin Brown: 5-8 160 lb JR PG
Justin Perez: 6-1 155 lb SO PG
Tyler McFarland: 6-2 184 lb FR SG
Nick Macarchuk IV: 6-5 188 lb FR SF


• American is the second and slightly better of the two dogs on Marquette’s this schedule this season. They were a sub 300 team last season and with a majority of their production departing, are likely to fall into that category again. A specific challenge for the Eagles will be their lack of senior leadership. Despite all 13 scholarships being utilized and 3 walk ons, the most experienced players on the team are two redshirt juniors.
• The best returning player for American will be point guard Sa’eed Nelson. Completely unranked coming out of high school, Nelson was a very pleasant surprised for Coach Brennan. As a true freshman he averaged 15 points a game while managing the lead guard position. He was a terror to opposing ballhanders, picking an average of 2.4 pockets a game.
• It’s not typical for a transfer from an NAIA instruction to be a prized recruit, but that is exactly the case here. Sharpshooting wing Larry Motuzis redshirted last season per NCAA transfer rules. The year before that, he was torching the NAIA with his shooting touch as a member of the St. Xavier’s Cougars. He averaged over 20 points a game while swishing 81 three pointers with over 40% accuracy. The three point line isn’t any farther at the D1 level but he will find defenders to be a lot more skilled. It will be interesting to see how his game transitions from NAIA all the way up to D1.
• The other big addition for the Eagles is JUCO transfer Cheikh “CB” Diallo. The Senegal native spent his first two seasons playing for Kilgore College, one of the better JUCO programs in the country. He started as a sophomore and averaged more than 10 points a game, mostly on the strength of his outside shooting. He sank over 60 three pointers with 42% accuracy.
• American was an extremely poor three point shooting team last season. They only made about 32% of their attempts as a team and only made 5.6 threes a contest. To make things worse, the only three players who made 20 or more three pointers last season will not be on the roster next season. Could explain why Coach Bennett targeted proven deep threats like Motuzis and Diallo for this year’s class.

American was one of the lowest scoring teams in America, averaging about 62 points a game as a unit. That’s 20 less points a game than the 82 Marquette averaged. Expect Marquette to turn up the heat early on this game with American being unable to keep pace. There may be a frustrating moment or two. Nelson was adept at getting into the lane and drawing fouls and Markus Howard was a fouling machine last year. But even if Markus get in early foul trouble, Marquette should still bombard their way to an easy 25 point+ victory.

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Categories: Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic


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