OVC Preview: Tennessee Tech
Last winter was a solid year for Tennessee Tech (19-12, 11-5). On the backs of Torrance Rowe, the Golden Eagles improved 5.5 games from the 2015-2016 season. Only one team defeated the Eagles in the refurbished Eblen Center.
Rowe single-handedly won games for the purple and gold. Other important departures/graduates include: Ryan Martin, Anthony Morse, Tre Hansbrough, and Shirmane Thomas.
“We felt like we had some great pieces in place,” said TTU Head Coach Steve Payne. “I thought we had great leadership in Torrance Rowe, Ryan Martin, and Anthony Morse. Our three seniors were committed and committed to leading us. They were not only great players, they were great to coach. Any time you have that you have a chance to have a great year.”
“We have a lot of guys back that played, but all their roles changed,” said Head Coach Payne. The one thing I tell a guy like Jugovic is, ‘It is a big jump to go from 12 ppg on a good team and the third option to 15 ppg and the leading scorer on a good team and the lead option.'”
Jugovic proved he can do more than shoot as a sophomore. His 12.1 ppg were third behind Rowe (18.2 ppg) and Martin (14.0 ppg). Though he made a career high 71 triples, Jugovic broadened his game to include pull-ups and the occasional slash to the tin. This evolution needs to continue, so Aleksa can keep defenses honest.
“He works so hard and he is fun,” said Head Coach Payne. “He will be one of the guys that can make a jump for us, we hope, this year.”
Jugovic and Hakeem Rogers are considered the leaders. Maybe you can throw Mason Ramsey in that group.
“I am really excited about Kajon Mack, a transfer from Tulane, that can play PG,” said Head Coach Payne. “It will be hard to replace Torrance as a scorer, but the ability to be 6-foot-3 and 195 and athletic at the point and defend, finish at the rim a little better…I think he brings things to the table that we haven’t had in a few years.”
Courtney Alexander II is a player that can take a leap. Exceptionally mobile, Alexander II looked like an athlete more than a hooper last season. He could do everything ok, but nothing well. He can rebound, run the floor, and score a little. What has he improved in the last six months?
Former walk-on Ramsey is another guy Coach Payne really believes in. Straight outta Livingston Academy, the undersized big forced his way into the rotation and now appears to be a team leader capable of starting. His single start last year will likely be eclipsed by December 1st.