Missouri State 2010 College Insider Tournament Preview
Missouri State Bears - Missouri Valley Conference (20-12, 8-10)
Big Wins: 11/28 Tulsa (83-75), 1/1 Illinois State (68-64), 2/20 Nevada (62-60)
Bad Losses: 12/22 at Arkansas (62-66), 1/12 at Drake (77-88), 2/3 at Southern Illinois (67-73)
Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Probable Missouri State Starters:
Adam Leonard, Junior, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 2.3 apg
Justin Fuehrmeyer, Senior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 3.1 apg
Jermaine Mallett, Junior, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Kyle Weems, Sophomore, Forward, 13.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Will Creekmore, Junior, Center, 8.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Key Missouri State Roleplayers:
Caleb Patterson, Sophomore, Center, 6.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Keith Pickens, Freshman, Guard, 3.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Nafis Ricks, Junior, Guard, 6.8 ppg, 2.4 apg
Why The Bears Can Surprise:
Missouri State has had a very up and down season. That has been mostly due to their inability to win away from the friendly confines of JQH Arena and that may cause some problems in the postseason. However, they have made it this far and that is in large part due to three big time scorers. Kyle Weems, a 6-6 sophomore is a superb wing who can attack the basket and hit the outside shot. On this team he has to spend a lot of time at the four spot, but at 230 pounds, he is not afraid to battle in the paint.
Adam Leonard and Jermaine Mallett are both capable shooters as well. Leonard is the most prolific outside shooter on the team and knocks down 2.8 per contest. Leonard will not take too many shots inside the arc, but he is a capable ballhandler who can drive the lane and either find a teammate or finish. Mallett was a great junior college recruit for Coach Cuonzo Martin and has not disappointed. He will do most of his scoring above the rim, but he is a long range threat too. The 6-3 combo guard can handle the ball, but his best asset is his ability to hit the glass.
Why The Bears Can Disappoint:
But that is part of the problem with the Bears. Weems and Mallett are the best two rebounders on the team. While they do a great job making this team pretty good on the glass, it does lead to the issue of size. Will Creekmore is the starting center and he is not a great rebounder. While he is a big body who can fill up space in the paint, Creekmore is not a shot blocking threat. Neither is reserve center Caleb Patterson. Patterson will score some points around the basket and stop outside and hit the mid-range jumper, but the lack of a true shot blocking presence on this team has led to a lackluster defense.
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Who To Watch for Missouri State:
Justin Fuehrmeyer has stepped into the starting point guard role and has done a tremendous job. While that makes the team smaller, it does allow Leonard to play off the ball and that has made Leonard a much better scoring option. Fuehrmeyer is a steady floor leader who has been around the program for a long time. His leadership is needed on a team that lacks consistency. Getting some consistent play out of wing Keith Pickens and guard Nafis Ricks would be helpful too. Pickens, a 6-4 freshman, is not much of a scorer at this point in his career, but has been quite productive when given the opportunity. Ricks has been a disappointment after a superb junior college career, but he is still capable of having a big outing and putting up 20 points off the bench.
Missouri State By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.0 (122nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.8 (108, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (126, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (196, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.9 (84, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.8 (65, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (66, 6)
Rebound Margin: 3.3 (73, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.8 (114, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (29, 3)