NASHVILLE --- Coach Cy Alexander has certainly had an impact on the Tennessee State University men's basketball team and the other Ohio Valley Conference members have taken notice. After going winless in OVC play the year prior to his arrival, Alexander's team has been predicted to finish second in the 2004-05 conference race.
A year ago, Alexander's first team was predicted to finish last in the 11 team league. The Tigers proved to be the surprise of the league, going 6-10 after a 0-16 finish the previous season. TSU made the OVC Tournament where the Tigers pushed conference champion Austin Peay to the wire, losing by three points.
This season, the Tigers will not be sneaking up on anyone, according to the preseason poll. TSU received 166 total points and one first place vote in a poll of league head coaches and sports information directions. The Tigers trailed only perennial league power and OVC Tournament champion Murray State that compiled 199 total points and 19 first place votes.
Alexander is leading the resurgence of the Tiger program. TSU returns solid players, plus the Tiger staff enjoyed a second outstanding recruiting class that will be a key for the team's success. The Tigers look to make continued progress in their turnaround under Alexander's guidance.
"This all looks good on paper, but we have to prove ourselves on the court," said the Tigers head coach. "Our staff has done a tremendous job, but the OVC is a very balanced and competitive league."
Eastern Kentucky (148), enjoyed one of its better seasons in recent years and is expected to finish third. Rounding out the poll are Tennessee Tech (137), Austin Peay (123), Tennessee-Martin (116), Jacksonville State and Southeast Missouri (92), Morehead State (52), Samford (45), and Eastern Illinois (40).
In addition to the team recognition, TSU had two players among a total of 10 chosen to receive preseason all-conference accolades. Bruce Price, the OVC's 2004 Freshman of the Year, was voted to the first team preseason All-OVC team. Senior forward Roshaun Bowens is a member of the second team.
2004-05 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Men's Basketball Team
(Selected by OVC Head Basketball Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
Willie Jenkins, Tennessee Tech
Bruce Price, Tennessee State
Matt Witt, Eastern Kentucky
Anthony Davis, Austin Peay
Adam Chiles, Murray State
OVC PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Willie Jenkins, Tennessee Tech
Jared Newson, Tennessee-Martin
Walker D. Russell, Jacksonville State
Roshaun Bowens, Tennessee State
Derek Winans, Southeast Missouri
Josh Gomes, Eastern Illinois
2004-05 OVC Men's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
(Selected by Head Basketball Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
1. Murray State (19 first-place votes) - 199
2. Tennessee State (1 first-place vote) - 166
3. Eastern Kentucky (1 first-place vote) - 148
4. Tennessee Tech (1 first-place vote) - 137
5. Austin Peay - 123
6. Tennessee-Martin - 116
t7. Jacksonville State - 92
t7. Southeast Missouri - 92
9. Morehead State - 52
10. Samford - 45
11. Eastern Illinois - 40
(*Schools were not allowed to rank their own team.
Ten points awarded for a first-place vote, nine for second, etc.)