Preview: Texas-Pan American
The Broncs will look for leadership from high-profile transfers
2013-14 WAC Projected Standings1. New Mexico State | 2. Cal State Bakersfield | 3. Idaho | 4. Chicago State | 5. Seattle | 6. Grand Canyon | 7. Utah Valley | 8. Texas-Pan American | 9. UMKC
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2012-13: 16-16 (5-3 Great West Conference)
In-conference offense: 0.92 points per possession (4th)
In-conference defense: 0.92 points per possession (3rd)
In a league with quite a few high-profile transfers, Texas-Pan American stands out for having two of the league's premier imports. Both Shaun Noriega (South Florida) and Javorn Farrell (UMass) enter the fold this season, occupying the backcourt spots vacated by Brandon Provost and Jesus Delgado. Noriega served as a fairly efficient spot-up shooting option in three seasons in the Big East, converting 36 percent of his 3-point attempts. Farrell is more of a defender and an athlete than a shooter, making just 30 percent of his long-range shots during his three seasons at UMass. The team's other vacant backcourt spot -- the point guard position -- will be filled either by Blake Provost -- Brandon's younger brother -- or TCU transfer Chris Zurcher.
The frontcourt is a bit more settled, with two returning starters on the roster. Justin Leathers showed flashes of a solid all-around game last season, faring well on the boards and contributing a solid steal rate, but he could stand to improve his 44 percent 2-point field-goal shooting. Forward Lauri Toivonen is a near-non factor on offense, but when he did shoot in 2013, he was successful on 54 percent of his 2-point attempts.
The few returning Broncs who contributed minutes in 2012-13 off the bench should reprise their roles this season, with Shaquille Hines and Josh Cleveland rounding out the frontcourt rotation alongside freshman Alex Majewski from Chicago. Hurley Johnson and Jamal Dantzler figure to get some minutes in the backcourt. Coach Dan Hipsher will be faced with multiple challenges in his first season, namely the move up to a tougher conference and the loss of three guards, among them the stellar Provost. The addition of Noriega and Farrell should help the Broncs overcome those hurdles, but the team shouldn't be expected to finish near the top of the WAC.
Projected 2013-14 conference finish: 8th
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In the lead-up to the 2013-14 college basketball season, Insider is providing preview articles on every Division I team, as well as essays from Insider's analysts and experts.