2007 Missouri State Bears Basketball Preview
Last season the Missouri State Bears (22- 11 overall, 12- 6 Missouri Valley) finished third in the conference and ended up in the NIT where they lost to San Diego 74- 70. Coach Barry Hinson ((152- 111 in eight years at MS, 188- 124 overall in 10 years) hopes that this season his Bears won’t hit that bump in the road slump that sent them to the NIT instead of the NCAA brackets.
The Bears ably made plays as the club notched 16.4 APG, placing them first in the league and 27th in the nation. The team was also tough under the boards, swiping 32.7 RPG. They were second in rebounding margin at plus-3.4. Missouri State scored an average of 73.9 PPG, making them third in the Valley, while their 13.2 turnovers put them seventh in that category. Scoring defense allowed an average of 65.2 PPG, making the team’s PF/PA margin a comfortable plus-8.7 PPG.
Missouri State has lost three point scorers, including forward Nathan Bilyeu who hit for 9.2 PPG and grabbed 5.4 RPG. Senior forward Deven Mitchell (10.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG) is an intense, energetic player who can slash through defenses and score points and affect the college basketball lines. Senior Drew Richards (7.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG) is a durable player who must cut down on fouls. Upfront, junior transfer center Wade Knapp and redshirted freshmen forward Ryan Jehle will immediately contribute.
The guard spots look good despite the fact that two key backcourt players are gone. Senior Spencer Laurie (5.9 PPG, 4.3 APG) could get the start again at the point. But Hinson may start him to the shooting spot and put freshman point guard Lamont Austin there. Versatile junior transfer Chris Cooks can play in the backcourt or front. Senior guard Dale Lamberth (7.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG) has a fine shot as he hit 52.2% of his attempts from the field - Great for NCAA basketball betting!
The Bears are looking at a tougher than usual schedule and Hinson is trying to replace three of five starters. Still, Missouri State returns veteran talent, has attracted strong transfers and possesses some fine new players. They will certainly be competitive. The NIT looks certain and the conference tournament brackets are a possibility.