NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State men's basketball team opens practice tomorrow at the Gentry Center with the season opener at Kansas on Nov. 10 just six weeks away.
Here are five storylines for the team entering the season:
TSU is going for three-consecutive winning seasons
- The Tigers are 37-24 over the last two seasons.
- TSU went 20-11 in 2015-16 and 17-13 in 2016-17.
- The last time Tennessee State posted three winning seasons in a row was in the early-to-mid 1990s under Frankie Allen.
- The Tigers had four-consecutive winning seasons beginning in 1992-93 and ending in 1995-96.
Experience coming back
- Despite losing three starters to graduation from last season (Tahjere McCall, Wayne Martin and Jordan Reed), TSU welcomes back an experienced bunch that includes eight players who saw the floor a year ago.
- Starters Christian Mekowulu (redshirt junior) and Darreon Reddick (senior) are entering their fourth season in the program.
- Five of TSU's returners started eight or more games in 2016-17.
Expanding roles for returners
- Expanded roles for three of TSU’s seniors could mean more scoring production.
- Darreon Reddick, who was TSU’s third leading scorer last year with 9.0 points per game, is the leading scorer among TSU’s returners.
- Delano Spencer averaged 8.4 points in 22.1 minutes and Ken’Darrius Hamilton put up 7.1 points in 19.5 minutes per game in 2016-17. All three look to up their scoring averages as seniors.
Life after Tahjere McCall and Wayne Martin
- TSU graduated two All-Ohio Valley Conference players from a year ago in Tahjere McCall and Wayne Martin. The Tigers will have to adjust to playing without two of their most productive players over the past two seasons.
- McCall, who earned back-to-back OVC Defensive Player of the Year Awards in his two seasons on the court at TSU, scored 840 points in two years. McCall was a two-time First Team All-OVC selection.
- Martin put up 12.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in two seasons for TSU.
- A 6-7 forward, Martin earned Second Team All-OVC in 2016-17 after finishing second the OVC in rebounds per game (9.2).
Head Coach Dana Ford can move up career wins list
- TSU has had nine permanent head coaches since moving to Division I prior to the 1977-78 season.
- Entering the season, Ford’s winning percentage of .456 is the second best among those coaches in the Division I era (Ed Martin - .568 in the D1 era).
- Ford has 42 wins in 92 games. He is one win shy of tying John Cooper (43 wins in 95 games) and two away from Larry Reid (44 wins in 111 games). Three wins would put Ford behind only Frankie Allen, Ed Martin and Cy Alexander for wins at the D1 level for TSU.