Morehead State Eagles
Good Wins: 11/30 Central Florida (Neutral), 12/30 @ East Tennessee State
Bad Losses: 11/23 FAMU (N), 11/29 Grambling (N), 1/5 vs. Tennessee State, 1/17 @ Eastern Illinois, 2/5 @ Jax St.
1. Center of attention. Kenneth Faried will be the new Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Such effervescence and zest for life. Unfamiliar fans will gravitate to him and in part offer their support for the supreme underdog Eagles. As important will be Faried’s rebounding prowess. It’s nothing short of miraculous with silly numbers like 5.7 offensive rebounds per game in the OVC Tournament. Fifteen times Faried yanked down more than five offensive boards. Against top-flight competition expect a line like 15 and 11. Much of his career has been against 6’6″ centers. While his numbers can be minimized, no one will diminish his contagious enthusiasm. Make him a priority for your viewing docket.
2. Shooting. With Faried standing out as the only weak spot, MSU shoots very well from the line. Their mark of 72% puts them in the 80th percentile. If they start a miracle and grab a lead against an elite opponent, then their percentage from the line indicates they can hold on.
1. Road Woes. These Eagles prefer their own nest. Fourteen losses came on road/neutral courts. Owwwch.
2. Turnovers. Nothing takes a Cinderella home early like wasted possessions. Knowing the frontline was set, Morehead State aimed to replace point guard Nikola Stojakovic with a serviceable newcomer like Cecil Brown. It has not worked. The starting backcourt of Demonte Harper and Brandon Shingles combine for over 6.0 turnovers per game. Across the board the Eagles rank among the nations worst in this critical category. Think Indiana, Kentucky, and Syracuse. All three suffer similar totals.
Bench: The bench is better than your typical OVC team (23rd ranked conference). Largely due to the early season struggles, Coach Donnie Tyndall granted starts to nine different players. Many MSU benchers feel important and the mental investment counts more than the physical.
The Departing: Coach Tyndall expected a four to five year laborious turnaround in Morehead, Kentucky. He did not count on the arrival of Leon Buchanan. The senior from Albany, Georgia sped up the process dramatically. He is one of three regulars to shot over 50% from the floor. Buchanan loves the limelight too. During the OVC Final he posed for the camera following his breakaway jam.
Morehead State entering the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years is a great story, especially as they are led by alum Coach Tyndall. Despite having a power conference center in Faried, the Eagles don’t play great defense and the offense looks rudimentary. Keep the airplane ticket for the scrapbook because it might be awhile before they are back. First round loss.