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Preseason Preview: Bethune-Cookman

Team

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 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. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
17-18 Record: 18-14 (12-4 MEAC)
Postseason?: Nope
17-18 KenPom: 288
Date: November 10, 2018
Location: Fiserv Forum
Coach: Ryan Ridder (2nd season)
Projected KenPom Range: 225-275
Projected Conference Finish: 1/11 in the MEAC

Departures from 17-18
Brandon Tabb: Starting SG: 31.3 mpg, 18.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.4 bpg, 2.3 tpg, .397 FG%, .337 3P% (Graduated)
Jeffrey Altidort: 1st Man off the Bench: 25.8 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.6 tpg, .403 FG%, .328 3P% (Graduated)
Jamal Gaines: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 10 games (Graduated)
Rodney Ross: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 7 games (Graduated)
QV Johnson: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 0 games (Left team for personal reasons)
28% of scoring, 13% of rebounding, 22% of assists, 34% of steals, 16% of blocks, 49% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Mark Gordon: JUCO Transfer SG from Dayton State College, ranked #48 by Jucorecruiting.com
Cletrell Pope: JUCO Transfer SF from Southeastern Illinois College
Wali Parks: JUCO Transfer SF from D2 Des Moines Area Community College
Dondre Duffus: Grad Transfer PG from Southeast Missouri State
Leon Redd: JUCO Transfer PG from Paris Community College
Danny Harris Jr: Walk-on PG

Probable Starters:
PG: Malik Maitland: 5’9” 175 lb RSJR: 29.3 mpg, 10.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.1 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .347 FG%, .337 3P%
SG: Mark Gordon: 6’5” 175 lb JR: 26.3 mpg, 15.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .514 FG%, .393 3P% (for JUCO Daytona State College)
SF: Isaiah Bailey: 6’6” 205 lb RSSR: 32.2 mpg, 16.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 4.0 tpg, .423 FG%, .275 3P%
PF: Soufiyane Diakite: 6’6” 215 lb RSSR: 27.9 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.0 tpg, .573 FG%, .333 3P%
C: Shawntrez Davis: 6’9” 220 lb SR: 27.0 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.5 spg, 1.2 bpg, 2.4 tpg, .554 FG%, .377 3P%

Probable Bench:
Cletrell Pope: 6’9” 210 lb JR SF
Wali Parks: 6’6” 205 lb JR SF
Houston Smith: 6’4” 215 lb JR SG
Dondre Duffus: 6’2” 185 lb RSSR PG
Leon Redd: 6’0” 185 lb JR PG

Probable Benchwarmers:
Armani Collins: 6’6” 180 lb SR SG
Ulmer Manzie: 6’8” 225 lb RSJR PF
David Francis: 6’6” 215 lb SR SF
Danny Harris Jr: 6’0” 182 lb JR PG

Notes:
• When the Preseason NIT announced the on-campus matchups, it was safe to say that Marquette fans were disappointed. After the other teams got games against the likes of Vermont and Louisiana-Lafayette, Marquette was told that they would only get one game (causing them to scramble and add Presbyterian to the schedule) and lowly Bethune-Cookman. However, if you look a little closer at the Wildcats, they become a sneaky good addition to the schedule. They may have finished just inside the top 300 on KenPom, but they won 18 games and had a share of the MEAC regular season title. From that team they only lost one starter and a bench player and bring in four impressive JUCO transfers along with a grad transfer to replace them. This team is a threat to win 20 games and is Paint Touches’ pick to win the MEAC this season.
• First thing that you notice about this team is that they are OLD. The Wildcats don’t feature a single underclassman on their roster. Second year skipper Ryan Ridder has fully embraced the JUCO route as his roster features 9 players who spent time playing in the NJCAA. While it may not be four years of Division 1 experience, the years of college basketball experience should give this team a level of maturity and poise that not many low majors can achieve. With this being such an early season matchup, Marquette may struggle initially as they will be working in more new and inexperienced pieces than the Wildcats.
• Bethune Cookman is going to get all the rebounds this season. 5th year senior Soufiyane Diakite and senior Shawntrez Davis make an intimidating duo in frontcourt. They combined to average 18.5 rebounds a contest last season. Joining them will be JUCO product Cletrell Pope who was the Angel Delgado of the NJCAA last season. Pope averaged a mind boggling 14 rebounds a game for Southeastern Illinois College which led the NJCAA. He’s not overly big, he just has a nose for rebounds and very good understanding of how the ball is going to bounce off the hoop. Despite his prowess on the boards, his team went just 5-26 on the season. In addition to the rebounding, this is also an impressive trio of rim protectors. Pope averaged over 2 blocks per game while Diakite and Davis combined for the same last season. Diakite is also the reigning MEAC defensive player of the year.
• This will be one of the only games of the season where Markus Howard has a height advantage. The Wildcats’ point guard is the diminutive Malik Maitland. Despite standing only 5’9” (on a good day) Maitland had a few high major programs kicking the tires on him due to his speed and skill. Ultimately, he ended up at Morehead State where he quickly impressed with his passing and thieving abilities. He was off to great start his sophomore year, averaging 2.1 steals and 3.8 assists per game when he transferred midseason. College basketball fans may remember that Morehead State’s Coach was fired midseason and charged with battery of two players. Coach Sean Woods was accused of backhanding the two players during halftime of a non-conference game. The two players? Maitland and the previously mentioned Diakite. Woods was ultimately fired but that wasn’t enough to keep Maitland and Diakite in the fold. Oddly enough, Woods is now coaching at Southern, another opponent of Marquette this season.
• The star player at Bethune Cookman is rising super senior Isaiah Bailey. He has the body of a wing but will often play like a lead guard for the Wildcats. He has the ball in his hands every possession and is constantly attacking and probing the defense looking for an opening. His go to move is the drive and kick which led to him finishing in the top 5 in the MEAC for assists per game. The deadliest aspect of his game is his ability to get to the free throw line. Despite his high usage he finished with an absurd FTR of .622. He finished 8 games with double digit free throw attempts and he made almost every one count with his ~80% accuracy.

Prediction:
• Marquette struggles early which makes the Fiserv Forum extremely uncomfortable. It’s back and forth in the first half with Marquette only holding a single digit lead at half time. Marquette gets control of the game in the second half though the Wildcats are never truly put away. Marquette wins by 10-15 but fans feel like the game was a lot closer.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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