- Hello, Finals Week. There are only two games between now and Saturday, as most teams get their week long break for the important part of a student-athlete. It also means the official end of the winter semester, meaning some new players become eligible once finals are completed. Among the ones to be on the watch for: Murray State’s T.J. Sapp and SEMO’s Josh Langford, both SEC transfers. Sapp gives the Racers some much needed depth in the backcourt, and very likely a second true ballhandler. Langford just adds to the Redhawks size, but also presents a bit of a conundrum, because you’re never going to play four forwards. How’d they land in the OVC? Sapp, a four-star high school recruit, couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket during his freshman year at Clemson. Langford was kicked off Auburn’s team for an unnamed violation of team rules.
- The best win of the weekend? I’d argue it was UT Martin over Northern Kentucky. Sure, SEMO and Eastern Kentucky won on the road, but the Skyhawks have won two straight after a series of bad losses. What really impresses me about UT Martin is how they’re winning: they committed just four turnovers in the win over Northern Kentucky, and are playing well despite two of their better players, Myles Taylor and Mike Liabo coming off the bench. I know I’ve been all over the place on the Skyhawks, but one thing I’ve been very consistent about if that I feel this team should, undoubtedly, be better than they were last year. And they weren’t horrible last year. Are we finally seeing this team reach it’s potential? That potential, by the way, could lead them to competing for the division crown. Yes, I’m saying the 4-8 Skyhawks are good enough to win the West. Will they? That’s a whole different question. Congratulations are also in order for Taylor, for joining the 1,000 point club.
- I failed to post a game story from my trip to Murray this weekend, because my computer ate it, so allow me to share my thoughts here: The Racers are getting better. The one thing I still don’t know: where is the ceiling? As mentioned above, the addition of T.J. Sapp will be key for their backcourt, that is without any question led by a freshman, Cameron Payne, and flat when that freshman isn’t on the floor. The Racers still make too many bad fouls, and the effectiveness of a backdoor cut against their defense, a favorite of teams like Belmont and Eastern Kentucky, is just baffling. On the good side, the defense is better overall, and when they stay aggressive on offense, and get the ball inside, they can be very effective. Jarvis Williams has the skills to be one of the best forwards in the league, without question. They’re never going to be deep, which will be an issue, and their free-throw shooting is atrocious, but their top three or four guys can challenge most everyone.
FEATUREDFinal Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.