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Golden Bulls reset after strong finish
JCSU has nucleus to make run at CIAA South in '15
 
Published Thursday, March 6, 2014 6:21 am
by Herbert L White

Late-season lineup juggling may have put Johnson C. Smith basketball on the path to an improved outcome in 2015.

PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
JCSU forward Emilio Parks, the Golden Bulls’ leading scorer in 2013-14, is the top returning player for next season’s team. Parks is a two-time all-CIAA player and was named all-tournament last week.

The Golden Bulls finished the season 18-12, with five wins in their final seven games sparked in part by an infusion of contributions from underclassmen reserves to go with standout forward Emilio Parks and shooting guard LaMarquis Letchaw. With senior starters Antwan Wilkerson and Emerson Williams graduating, there’ll be competition for those roles. 

The question is whether new starters will be promoted from the bench or recruited.

The Golden Bulls hit stride in the last couple of weeks of the regular season when coach Steve Joyner decided to expand playing time for his bench. What started as an experiment turned into an asset when reserves like Joshua Linson and Alandre Davis became key contributors down the stretch into the CIAA tournament. 

So how will the JCSU build on the late season success that included a semifinal berth at the CIAA?

More time for Davis and Linson

Davis, the tallest player on the roster at 6-9, proved worthy of a spot in the starting lineup with his play late in the season. The sophomore averaged 4.1 points per game in 9.4 minutes a game, but he connected on 53.6 percent of his shots and made key contributions as Parks’ backup at center. 

Davis needs to become a more consistent rebounder and add bulk, but if he and Parks can be paired in the frontcourt, the Golden Bulls could have a compelling frontcourt tandem.

Linson finally showed potential late in his sophomore season as a three-point shooter who can break open defenses geared to focus on Parks. Linson’s overall scoring was a modest 4.4 points (5.8 in CIAA games) but his best work came in the final couple of weeks when he was a force from the perimeter. He and LaMarquis Letchaw have similar skill sets, but there’s no reason why they can’t play in tandem on at least a limited basis with Letchaw at point.

Needs

• A sure ball-handler. The loss to Winston-Salem State in the CIAA semifinals exposed a glaring weakness as JCSU struggled to break the Rams’ full-court pressure. Letchaw is more of a scorer, Linson’s a shooter and senior Richard Daniels is graduating. Joyner traditionally goes for pass-first point guards who defend, so this will likely become a priority.

• Wings with versatility. Senior Emerson Williams filled the role capably, but the Golden Bulls will have to recruit or groom a replacement that can drive or shoot the three-pointer. Junior Markell Lotharp, who averaged only 2.0 points per game, has the physical tools, but is he ready to make a major contribution?

 

 

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