After a third straight losing season, a major roster shakeup could be exactly what Austin Peay needs this next season. After a 2012-13 season that saw the Governors struggle in the backcourt, Austin Peay tried to shore up a lack of depth in the backcourt last season.
It didn’t have the impact they hoped. The Governors were only marginally better defensively, still struggled with turnovers, and the frontcourt wasn’t much better.
This year, through graduation and transfers, Austin Peay will undergo a much larger roster transformation. They lose the face of their team, more-or-less, the past two seasons, and shed a few players that never quite performed at a collegiate level.
% Loss By Statistics
G Fred Garmon (career-ending injury)
G Zavion Williams
G Travis Betran (graduated)
F Chris Horton
F Will Triggs (graduated)
G Thomas Greer (transferring)
G Jeremy Purvis
F Chris Freeman
G Cory Artensen (transferring)
F Preston Herring (transferring)
G Demarius Smith
F Serigne Mboup
F Ed Dyson
F Josh Ledbetter
G Khalil Davis (JUCO transfer)
G Trey Ivory
F Assane Diop (JUCO transfer – Sophomore)
G Domas Budrys
G Chris Porter-Bunton
G John Robinson
When you have this many changes, it’s often hard to really sort things out. I’m not sure that’s the case with Austin Peay, as four returning players could make a case to be in the opening day starting lineup: Demarius Smith, Zavion Williams, Ed Dyson, and Chris Horton.
Without another pickup, (and it does appear Austin Peay has at least one scholarship open) backcourt depth is an issue of concern. Khalil Davis is being touted by the school as “the leading candidate to replace departed senior Travis Betran at the two-guard position.” I don’t know if he’ll round out the starting five; if he does, the Governors will be relying off mostly freshman off the bench. It makes more sense to sit either Davis, Smith, or Williams, and bring one in as the sixth man.
So, who’s the fifth starter? Assane Diop was highly recruited for being athletic, and 6’8, but he’s relatively new to the sport of basketball. If he’s ready by November, he could move to the four alongside Horton.
The thing is, that’s really the only option that makes sense given what we know now. Could one of the three freshman being brought into the program have a Cameron Payne-like impact? It’s possible, but unlikely. Could a guy like Sergine Mboup have an incredible offseason? Again, it could happen.
This year’s recruiting class looks like it’s part of a longer-term building effort. Each of the last two seasons, Austin Peay has gone heavily to the JUCO ranks to fill their weaknesses, and while they had some hits, (i.e Betran) they haven’t had enough to get back into the hunt in the OVC.
But one big question does remain: Is there enough firepower on this year’s team? Even off a down year, Betran’s production will be challenging to replicate.
Even bigger: can the Governors finally get stops? Austin Peay has finished 10th and 11th in the league in defensive points per possession (DPPP) the last two seasons, and allowed conference opponents to shoot better than 37% from three-point range. Even though they’ve finished in the top two in blocks each of the past two years, Austin Peay finished in the bottom half of the league in two-point field goal defense.
In the end, there will be a lot of new names on the roster. But unless those new names have big impacts on the court, change could come slowly to Clarksville.