Statesmen shooting for bigger things
by Donell Maxie
Nov 06, 2013 | 626 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Delta State University Statesmen will officially tip-off the 2013-14 basketball season Saturday when they host the Delta Challenge, featuring No. 9 Florida Southern College, Eckerd College and the University of Arkansas-Monticello.

The two-day event will also have the Statesmen playing Eckerd at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The 2013-14 season is filled with high expectations as second year head coach Jim Boone has had a full year to get acclimated and a full off-season to recruit.

Last season Boone led the Statesmen to an 11-16 finish, the year prior to Boone getting the job the Statesmen were 6-21.

Entering this year's campaign the Statesmen have been chosen in the Gulf South Conference Coaches Preseason Poll to finish fourth.

"We are excited about the season and our ability to be much better then we were at this point last season,” Boone said. “We have a lot more depth across the board and above and beyond that we have a chance to be a really good defensive team.”

Delta State was one of the top defensive units in the GSC last season, allowing opponents a mere 61.1 points per game and 41.3 percent shooting from the floor.

The Back Court

The back court returns several key performers from last season led by Cornell Knight, Mike Weems and Jack Madgen.

The Statesmen also brought in freshman Devin Schmidt out of Sevierville, Tenn.

Boone sees Knight as one of the best defensive players in the GSC.

"He (Knight) might be the best defensive player in our league,” Boone said. “He can guard anybody from the one to the four. His energy on the floor is one of the reason we were able to control Mississippi Valley State when in our exhibition game.”

Last season, Knight averaged 9.6 points per game and six rebounds with 3.7 assists.

Madgen, a 6-foot-4, sophomore guard from Williamstown, Australia played in 27 games with 24 starts last season. He averaged 10.1 points per game.

Boone will relay on Madgen and Knight for their experience as well as Weems who was one of the Statesmen's best three point shooters in Boone’s first year as head coach. Weems was good for 8.7 points per game and made 48-of-126 three-point shots (0.381).

"Michael is a defensive stopper who can step out and shoot the three-point shot," said Boone.

A newcomer that is expected to be an instant contributor is Schmidt who brings a bit of edge to the point guard position for the Statesmen.

"Devin Schimdt keeps you on the edge of your seat, but he's fearless, aggressive, and extremely competitive,” Boone said. “I love his attitude and his attack mentality.

"We have a lot more depth and weapons this year then we had last year. We have to build upon what we have and if we can do that we will have a special year."

The Front Court

When it comes to having a presence in the paint, Boone will be the first one to tell you last season they didn't have one.

All of that should change with senior forwards Willie Readus (6-7, 265) and Mike Washington (6-9, 210).

Readus is a transfer from Jackson State University and will be a major force in the GSC. At Jackson State, Readus averaged seven points and six rebounds per game.

“Willie is a big, strong, physical post player who can score inside,” Boone said. “He is a warrior and he plays hard and is very aggressive inside. Anytime you have a big man that demands a double or triple team that is beneficial to your offense.

"Mike Washington gives us a defensive stopper inside. He is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-2 wing span and can shoot the 12 to 15 foot jump shot and has range out to the three-point line," said Boone.

Delta State also returns guard-forward Zelvin Smith, Jr. (6-5, 210-pound), forward Declan Harrick (6-10, 230-pound), guard Brice Rowe (6-4, 175-pounds) and guard Bobby Wallace (6-0, 190-pounds).

Boone is joined on his coaching staff by Chris Richardson, graduate assistants Jimmy Boone and John Bowler and student assistant Eric White.