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Men's Basketball Preview: Alabama A&M (1619 hits)

Courtesy NCAA

Tue, October 27, 2015

2014-15 Record and Finish: 9-19 (8-10 in SWAC), 7th in conference
Key Returners: Ladarius Tabb, Nick West, Rakiya Battle
Key Losses: N/A

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Despite a 9-19 – 8-10 record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – last season, the Alabama A&M Bulldogs are expecting to surprise some people in the 2015-16 season. The rest of the league is taking note, having predicted the Bulldogs to finish fourth overall in the league this year in the preseason poll.

Alabama A&M returns virtually its entire team from last year, and expects to return every single starter from the 2014-15 season.

Leading the way for the Bulldogs will be swingman Ladarius Tabb. After splashing on the scene with a SWAC-leading 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year, there are high expectations for the 2014-15 SWAC Newcomer of the Year, as the senior earned the Preseason SWAC Player of the Year award as well as first-team preseason All-SWAC honors.

Tabb is one of nine seniors set to return to the Hill, and with four juniors also expected to be back, Alabama A&M is arguably the most experienced group in the conference. Fellow senior Nick West, also a preseason first-team honoree, should help to anchor the interior as he’s fresh off a season where he was second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game – 10th in the conference – and also pulled down 7.7 boards per game, which ranked third in the conference.

While loaded with seniors, Alabama A&M will task junior Rakiya Battle with running the offense once again as it looks to challenge for the SWAC title. Last season, Battle entrenched himself as one of the best facilitators in the conference, leading the SWAC in assists per game (5.8) and establishing himself as an adept ball-thief, as evidenced by his 1.3 swipes per contest, good for eighth in the league.

The Bulldogs should also have one of the deeper teams in the league, as they have several players that saw significant action last season coming back in the fold. Among those players is Justin Colvin, who averaged five points a game while collecting 15 steals as a key reserve.

Adrian Edwards and Marcus Merriweather showed some flashes and are both eyeing a leap forward this season, as AAMU will want to improve on its middle-of-the-pack scoring offense from last season. In seeing extensive, while largely abbreviated, action, Merriweather established himself as perhaps the biggest threat from three-point land in leading the team in shooting percentage from long range. Edwards posted averages of nearly four points and three boards per game.

The Bulldogs will open the season at Tulane University on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3.

Posted By: Elynor Moss
Wednesday, October 28th 2015 at 10:37AM
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