Austin Peay Sports Information Office
Basketball Govs begin first full week of practice
Clarksville, TN – With two 1,000-point scorers—Will Triggs and Travis Betran—graduating from the Austin Peay State University men’s basketball program, it is essential for the returning veterans to step up heading into the 2014-15 season.
Leading the way is 6-8 center Chris Horton, who arguably was the Ohio Valley Conference’s most improved player in 2013-14 and is on the cusp of earning All-OVC recognition.After averaging 8.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as a freshman, Horton numbers improved dramatically to 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds—that rebound number ranked 25th nationally.
In fact, Horton also ranked 11th nationally in field-goal percentage (59.5 percent) and 11th in blocks (3.07 bpg).
“While Chris is an accomplished player,” APSU coach Dave Loos said, “there is certainly room for improvement. That would be continuing to develop his low-post game and continuing to develop as a defensive player where he plays solid in there. Obviously, he is a great shot blocker and good rebounder, he can still develop as a defender in terms of his positioning and how solid his play in there.
“Chris has matured a great deal since he has been here and he continues to mature.”
That maturity was never more evident in his blocked shot totals a year ago. As a freshmen, Horton recorded 100 single-season blocks but frequently found himself on the bench with foul issues. A year ago, Horton had just eight fewer blocks but averaged nearly six minutes more played per game.
Senior Ed Dyson was another Governors who matured during 2013-14 season. In fact, the 6-4 guard/forward, after transferring from junior college, struggled adjusting to the Division I level during the season’s first half. But he came alive during the OVC season’s final half.
“He is athletic and Ed has the ability to get to the rim,” Loos said. “He also is best guy on the team in terms of a pull-up jumper—when he dribble penetrates he is very good shooting that mid-range jumper.
“What we want to see Ed do is improve as a defender and clean up his offensive game.”
The third returning starter is senior point guard Damarius Smith, who won’t be available until OVC season rolls around. As a result, a redshirt junior, Zavion Williams (8.3 ppg), and a redshirt senior, Jeremy Purvis, will get first looks at the point guard slot, although Williams was valuable as a reserve at both guard positions a year ago.
“Zavion can play and be effective at both positions,” Loos said. “I think he has some leadership qualities. He is smart guy and he is candidate at point, but the plus is he can play both positions.”
Purvis joined APSU as a walk-on in December 2012 and the lithe local product immediately was inserted into the lineup at point guard while starter Jeremy Clyburn recovered from a hamstring injury. He ended up starting 12 games literally walking in off the street, averaging 3.2 ppg. He redshirted a year ago to add bulk and strength to a point where he is pushing 160 pounds.
“I asked him just recently what he weighed when he joined us,” Loos said. “He said ‘Coach, I weighed about 140 pounds. He is much stronger and bigger. He has grown physically and mentally at that position.”
The Govs’ other two returnees—senior Chris Freeman and 6-8 junior Serigne Mboup—reside along the frontline and should get cracks at competing for Triggs’ forward slot. The former has started four times in the past. He averaged 5.2 ppg as a sophomore but slumped to 3.5 ppg a year ago, despite shooting 62 percent from the floor.
“I think in Chris’ case he has to focus on his strengths and play to those and not try to figure out everything else—he just needs to just play. And he is going to have every opportunity to do so.”
Mboup is the most conscientious worker on the Govs team. He showed flashes as a sophomore, grabbing six rebounds in 10 minutes against Vanderbilt and then scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds versus Tennessee State.
“Serigne plays very, very hard,” Loos said. “And he is developing. As a result, he is going to see a lot more playing time this year. He is going to be an important part of our inside game.
“I think Freeman and Serigne are going to be better just because of playing time. There is nothing like just getting out there and playing.”