The Henderson State Reddies finished 8-8 in conference play, which was somewhat remarkable, given their horrendous start. For a program that was as historically good as theirs, it was a tremendous shock to see them start last season 1-6 (and start the conference season 3-7). Their strong finish was quite impressive, but they fell just short of reaching the conference tournament. Head coach Joe Redmond has to bear the brunt of the criticism for last year’s failure, since his team was touted as the best in the conference in the preseason, yet they fell flat on their faces (even with several key seniors).
Unlike some of the other teams I’ve covered so far, Henderson State only had one major weakness for all of last season. They just kept turning the ball over, and they couldn’t force enough turnovers to make up for it. Take a look at the four keys for their season as a whole (they didn’t really change much in the conference season, anyway):
HSU’s 17.0 turnover ratio was second-worst in the conference, while their opponents’ 14.0 TR made them the worst at forcing turnovers. For whatever reason, the Reddies just couldn’t hang on to the ball enough to let their strengths in shooting (3% edge) and rebounding (15% edge) shine through.
Individual stats (explanation):
|23||Lamb Jr., Mike||2.5||0.0||0.5||0.0||1.0||0.0||0.5||-1.5||0.000|
|13||Bray Jr., Larry||1.3||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||-1.2||0.000|
|23||Lamb Jr., Mike||0.000||0.000||0.00||0.0||-40.0||0.0||50.0||16.3||11.9%||-27.82|
|13||Bray Jr., Larry||0.000||0.000||0.00||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||51.0||0.0%||-50.05|
Sadly (for those of us who like to analyze this sort of thing) Henderson State has yet to publish their roster for the upcoming season. In fact, they haven’t posted a single news item since the end of last season. Thus, I have no idea which of the underclassmen are returning, nor do I know anything about their recruiting class. The seniors from last year’s squad were Withers, Uzoigwe, Hightower, and Johnson, so I’ll make a couple of assumptions from there. I’ll assume that not every underclassman is returning, but I’ll also assume that the Reddies will get some contributions from transfers and freshmen. These are both legitimate assumptions, I think, since the HSU program is still in transition mode from the loss of (former coach, now at UCA) Rand Chappell, and since they probably will still do a good job recruiting.
With those things in mind, let’s see how the roster might shape up for this season. Dedric Spooner should be back, and if he is, the Reddies will have one of the conference’s top players. Spooner was the conference’s second-best rebounder last season (to Johnathan Holland of UAM), and he is one of just a few players in the conference who combines that skill with the ability to score. Holland was seventh overall in PER and was by far the best Reddie in 2004-05. Having a player like him in the middle has to make coach Joe Redmond happy, since there are very few like him in the conference. Omar Guinea also played well when Spooner wasn’t out there, and assuming Randy George also returns at the power forward spot, the Reddies will be very strong inside.
Not everything looks great for the Reddies, though. They are losing three of their top four scorers from last year, including four-year starter Tarvoris Uzoigwe, who (despite a down year) was perhaps the conference’s most deadly outside threat. You have to expect that HSU will bring someone in to play both guard positions, since the backups last year received virtually no time on the floor, but I have no clue how good they will be.
I suppose that a prediction on Henderson State would be mostly speculation, but I think they will be strong enough inside to come close to last year’s .500 finish. With some good outside play, they could surprise some people and finish near the top. Six coaches pick them third in the GSC West this year, so I wouldn’t put anything past them. They’re certainly a difficult team to gauge.