"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Presbyterian Preview

Presbyterian Blue Hose
November 17, fiserv.forum

Coach: Dustin Kerns (11-21 at Presbyterian)
3-Year RPI Average: 326.3
3-Year kenpom Average: 337.3
2018-19 T-Rank Projection: 289
Projected Starters: PG Davon Bell (5'10" Sr), SG Romeo Crouch (6'3" So), SF J.C. Younger (6'4" Jr), PF Francois Lewis (6'9" Sr), C Armel TeTe (6'9" Jr)

The Blue Hose lost leading scorer Reggie Dillard but should have the rest of their starting lineup back with PG Davon Bell getting a waiver after only playing 7 games his junior year. The big question will be if Lewis & TeTe can play together. When Lewis was found academically ineligible, TeTe stepped in & took the majority of the minutes in the middle.

The good news is that before Lewis was suspended, Presbyterian was a decent 5-8 in D1 games. That includes a win over NCAA-bound UNC-Greensboro, a halftime lead at NC State, & being tied at Virginia Tech with under 9 minutes to play. Then Lewis went out & the Blue Hose finished the season 3-13. Coach Kerns will hope that a full season of Lewis along with a more experienced roster will help them be more competitive. Lewis is a high-usage, high-efficiency player that is a beast on the boards.

The consensus is Presbyterian is a bad team. They were poor on both ends this past year, haven't been a top-325 kenpom team in 7 years, & have never been a top-250 kenpom team. And yet...I think they could be pretty good. The first thing that gives me hope is Lewis, who has a bit of a 2012 Kyle O'Quinn type feel to him. He's got size & conference POY upside. And while their numbers weren't pretty last year, they were competitive with some good teams. They gave NC State & Virginia Tech hell, beat a good Greensboro team, & even after Lewis was injured took NCAA-bound Radford to overtime on the road. Having Bell & Lewis back is huge for this team & while they will certainly have more skeptics than believers, I think Presbyterian will have their best ever kenpom team & have a good chance to make some noise in the Big South.

Stylistically, they are going to play slow. The Blue Hose were 3-9 in games of 65 or more possessions, and the best of those 3 wins was #340 Longwood. Against Virginia Tech, they focused on getting the shot clock under 10 then looking for the best shot. They get the bulk of their points beyond the arc & do have some shooters, so expect them to slow the pace & hope to equalize the talent disparity with the long ball. Lewis really is the key to their team. Once he went down, they allowed 1.15 or worse defensive efficiency in over 60% of their remaining games and went 0-10 in those games.

Marquette Connection: This game will be a homecoming of sorts for Montenia Lewis. The Presbyterian guard played his high school ball less than 40 miles due south of the fiserv.forum at Kenosha Bradford. Lewis led the Red Devils with 12.9 ppg as a senior.

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