HLeague 2016-17 Preview the Season: 6. Youngstown State; 5. Detroit Mercy

6. Youngstown State Penguins

Sweet-Shooting Duo Leads YSU Again

The Penguins return a lot of talent from last season’s team, including prolific scorer and ball handler Cameron Morse. He was an All-League Second team selection last season and

Cameron Morse led the Penguins with 25 points as they get the 7-seed heading into the Horizon League Tournament.

Cameron Morse is one of the best players in the Horizon League.

averaged 20.3 points per game. What is even more impressive is that he shot 47% from the field and over 80% from the free throw line. Matt Donlan is returning for his senior season and shot similarly well, as he averaged about 13 ppg. Unfortunately for YSU, these impressive individual stats have not usually translated into winning seasons. The Penguins are not very good defensively and are inconsistent rebounding the ball. Sidney Umude is a strong and athletic forward who is a big X-factor for the Penguins. If he can become a better rebounder and more consistent on both ends of the floor, Youngstown State could really become dangerous. The team’s success this season also depends on Jorden Kaufman, their 7-foot center. He saw increased minutes when Bobby Hain got injured last season. Kaufman showed some great signs, but also was somewhat ineffective in other games. The Penguins have plenty of capable ball handlers, and look for sophomore Latin Davis to see even more time at point guard this season, as he backs up Francisco Santiago. The bottom line for the Penguins is that they need to improve on the defensive end if they want any shot to contend for an H-League title.

 

Projected H-League Record: 8-10

 

 

5. Detroit Mercy Titans

With Newfound Identity, Defense Will Put Titans Back Into Contention

Image result for bacari alexanderNew Head Coach Bacari Alexander has rejuvenated a Detroit Mercy program that was lagging for a few years. Nobody doubts the Titans offensive abilities, as they led the H-League last season shooting 46.5% from the field and averaged over 83 points per game. But the Titans defensive efforts were another story. They allowed at least 90 points in nine games last season. Former Titan teammates Alexander and assistant coach Jermaine Jackson are looking to bring back that defensive toughness that led them to consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 1998 and ’99. With Paris Bass being dismissed from the team in the offseason, senior guard Chris Jenkins is the team’s leading returning scorer (12 ppg) and best shooter. But sophomore guard Josh McFolley has to be considered the team’s best player. He started off very strong last season, before his role was reduced when Bass returned from a suspension. McFolley is also one of the Titan’s better defenders.  Expect freshman and Mr. Basketball (Michigan) finalist Corey Allen to see a lot of time in the backcourt. As a 6’3” guard, he can really use his size to his advantage. Senior point guards Matthew Grant and Jarod Williams will continue to provide valuable and reliable minutes off the bench.  Despite not playing a ton of minutes, Jaleel Hogan really established himself as a consistent and efficient big man. When he got the ball within 8-10 feet of the basket, very few defenders could stop him. Expect 6’11” JUCO transfer Isaiah Jones to be a defensive stopper and good rebounder. Sophomore forward Gerald Blackshear got a lot of experience with some valuable minutes last season. His comfort level and production on the court should only increase this season. The Titans are one of toughest teams to predict how they will finish in the standings, partly because they are such a mixture of experience and youth. But Coach Alexander’s attention to detail and defense, along with changing the culture of the program, will help propel Detroit Mercy to a solid season and an even brighter future.

Projected H-League Record: 11-7

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