Men’s Basketball Preview

Five things you need to know about each team coming into the season.

After+a+9-20+season+that+included+an+11-game+losing+streak%2C+men%27s+basketball+will+approach+its+year+with+eight+new+players.+Max+Jackson+%7C+Staff+Photographer
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Men’s Basketball Preview

After a 9-20 season that included an 11-game losing streak, men's basketball will approach its year with eight new players. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

After a 9-20 season that included an 11-game losing streak, men's basketball will approach its year with eight new players. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Max Jackson

After a 9-20 season that included an 11-game losing streak, men's basketball will approach its year with eight new players. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Max Jackson

Max Jackson

After a 9-20 season that included an 11-game losing streak, men's basketball will approach its year with eight new players. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

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A new head coach couldn’t change the fortunes of the Owls last season, as the team finished 9-20 and missed the conference tournament under Michael Curry.

Tasked with navigating a tougher schedule with a team that lost nine players to graduation or transfer, they need to address their problems or risk falling to the bottom of the Conference USA standings again.

Transfer-mation

A few of coach Curry’s recruiting moves are making their way onto the court for their first season with the Owls, including four transfers from other programs.

Redshirt senior guard Solomon Poole was the lone transfer to play last year, finishing second on the team in scoring, with 12.5 points per game while adding 49 assists.

Poole, a Georgia Tech product will be joined by redshirt junior guard Adonis Filer and sophomore center Ronald Delph. Both sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules.

The 7-foot, 235-pound Delph brings size to the Owls’ frontcourt after spending a year redshirting at Auburn and will bring an immediate impact when he is activated in December (Delph only sat half a season last year).

Filer played two years at Clemson, averaging five points and 1.6 assists per game. His arrival will give scoring touch and game experience to a team that lost five guards to transfer or graduation.

Forward Matthew Reed rounds out the group as the only player from junior college on the roster. The Shelton State Community College grad played in 30 games last year, registering 38 blocks during that time.

New Faces

Four freshmen will join the rotation this season forwards Jeantal Cylla, Connor Shorten, Jesse Hill and guard Nick Rutherford.

Cylla was ranked the 43rd best player in the state of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class and received offers from several major basketball programs: Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Rhode Island — before picking Boca Raton as his final destination.

New Jersey natives Hill and Shorten make up a power forward duo that could see time off the bench with the graduation of Kelvin Penn and Justin Raffington.

Rutherford played for Allen Prep in Allen, Texas; they were ranked the 16th best team in the state after last season.

Conference Woes

FAU finished last in the conference standings last year, going 2-16 against C-USA opponents. Their troubles included an 11-game losing streak that spanned a month during conference play.

That streak was a major reason the Owls were kept out of the postseason tournament.

Senior guard Solomon Poole was second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game. Head coach Michael Curry will rely on him for the same performance in his final year. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Senior guard Solomon Poole was second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game. Head coach Michael Curry will rely on him for the same performance in his final year. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Point Producers

Guards Solomon Poole, Marquan Botley and Jackson Trapp have all returned as the top scorers for the Owls.

Junior Botley led the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game, while Poole finished second with 12.5 PPG. Trapp, a senior and the team’s captain, scored 10.1 points as one of the team’s primary shooters.

What remains to be seen is who will replace the production of Justin Raffington and Justin Massey. Raffington scored 9.2 PPG in his final season with the Owls, and Massey scored 7.5 PPG before transferring to Brown University.

Sophomore center C.J. Turman looks like FAU’s current replacement for Raffington. As a freshman, he shot 57.6 percent from the floor while averaging 5.8 points per game.

Expect the guards coming in and out of rotations to take over Massey’s old role. Curry used as many as five guards last year.

Turnovers and defensive miscues

A recurring theme for last season’s team was an abundance of giveaways. The Owls averaged 12.7 turnovers per game, compared to 11.1 takeaways per game.

Their possession margin of -1.6 tied them with Arkansas State for 281st out of 344 teams. Only Marshall, Rice and FIU had worse margins in the conference than FAU last year.

Six players had over 35 or more turnovers last year. That number includes Poole, who led the team with 79 turnovers. Another year under coach Curry should fix most of the problems the team had with securing the ball.

Defensive struggles did not keep the team in close games last season, as they surrendered an average of 66.7 points versus opponents all of last year, compared to 62.6 scored on average. Perimeter defense was one of the places FAU succeeded, holding teams to a conference low 28.7 shooting percentage from 3-point range.

Keeping opponents out of the paint will be the Owls’ most important goal. Opposing offenses will test the young combination of Delph and Turman, forcing them to prove that they have developed.