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APSU basketball: What to know as season tips-off

Jimmy Trodglen/Tnsports360.com

By Jimmy Trodglen

Editor

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Last season, Austin Peay was the surprise of the OVC. The Govs disregarded the preseason estimates of finishing at the bottom of the conference, to surface with a top four finish and an eventual bid into the postseason CIT.

A year later, the preseason outlook is entirely different, thanks to the return of last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year, Terry Taylor, and a deeper and more talented roster.

Austin Peay will begin Season No. 2 under coach Matt Figger when it opens against Oakland City at the Dunn Center Tuesday.

So, here’s what to know about Austin Peay as this season begins.

 

Starters back: Terry Taylor, soph, guard/forward, Chris Porter-Bunton, senior, forward, Dayton Gumm, soph. guard, Zach Glotta, senior, guard.

Starters lost: Tre Ivory, point guard, Averyl Ugba, forward.

Notes about roster: Austin Peay returns seven players from last year’s 19-15 team, with five making at least one start.

Of the six newcomers, two are graduate transfers, one is a JUCO while the other three are true freshmen.

Preseason predictions: Austin Peay was picked to finish fourth in the OVC by the league coaches and sports information directors. The OVC media also gave the Govs a fourth-place chance.

No place like home?

Austin Peay will only play three nonconference home games, while playing 10 games on the road before conference play begins.

The Govs will play at Mississippi State and Arkansas and will play in the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic.

Taylor’s new role

With Figger addressing the Govs’ need at adding size, the added height will afford Taylor to move to a wing position. Taylor displayed his ability to consistently hit from 3-point range, and he can still play at the post position if the Govs opt for a smaller lineup.

Taylor has a quick first step and has natural instincts when it comes to playing inside.

Watching the next great Gov

Taylor scored more than 500 points during his freshman season and his exploits during his rookie season mirror many Govs’ greats including Bubba Wells, Trenton Hassell and even Fly Williams.

Once Taylor completes the transition to playing defense and knowing where to be on the floor when he doesn’t have the ball, the Bowling Green, Ky. native could be one of the few to be all-conference at two positions.

Bigger inside

The Govs had one of the league’s smallest lineups last season but were able to compensate thanks to Ugba.

Ugba had one of the best single seasons in Govs’ history, but his eligibility is complete. During the offseason, the Govs added 7-footer Matheus Silveira.

The Govs have the luxury of two 7-footers with Ivan Cucak returning, and the Govs have a pair of big forwards who will make an immediate impact. Eli Abaev is a 6-8 junior who played last season at Eastern Florida State.

Jabari McGhee is a 6-7 graduate transfer who started at Tennessee and finished at Western Kentucky. McGhee could have the type of impact equal to Ugba. He is similar in size and mirrors Ugba’s abilities.

Richard Henderson (6-6, soph.) will provide quality minutes and scoring opportunities inside. Chris Porter-Bunton, a 6-5, senior, and Jarrett Givens, a 6-5 graduate transfer from Adams State, will provide versatility and scoring.

Speed and more speed

Austin Peay will play a more up-tempo style, thanks to depth at the guard positions. The Govs are more athletic and Figger said the Govs were further along in preseason practice than at any time last season.

Point guard difference

Austin Peay will have more options at point guard, utilizing the experience of Steve Harris, who made an impact as last season progressed.

Dayton Gumm and Zach Glotta can run the Govs’ half-court sets and give the Govs options in the transition game. And both can play the two-spot where they are among the OVC’s top 3-point shooters.

The Govs will also have options with the addition Jashaun Garrison, Antwuan Butler and Isaiah Hart.

What to expect

The Govs have depth, experience, size and Taylor; that’s enough to contend for the OVC regular season and tournament titles. Austin Peay has narrowed the talent gap with Belmont and Murray State, and will have a 20-win season.

It would be nice if Austin Peay fans returned to the Dunn Center to watch what should be one of the better teams of the past 15 years.

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360

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