The Alabama State Hornets men’s basketball team will almost certainly be the least formidable opponent on the Cougars’ 2019-20 schedule.
That’s quite the statement to make and yet I am positive this won’t make its way to being one of the 4.5 bad takes I average per Cougar sports season.
If you believe Ken Pomeroy’s eponymous KenPom ratings are a trustworthy preseason tool (and history suggests you should) then Alabama State was one of the 15-20 or so lowest rated teams in the entirety of Division 1 men’s basketball.
Last year the Hornets were a middle of the pack SWAC team, with a 9-9 record in league play and 12-19 overall, with their only Division 1 wins coming over SWAC opponents.
In the brief sample size of the current season, the Hornets opened the season with an entirely expected 31-point loss at Gonzaga and surprisingly close 59-50 loss to a Missouri State team that should be one of the better ones in the Missouri Valley.
Save for the last 10 minutes of the 1st half, the Hornets actually outplayed MSU by a 38-36 margin. Obviously, we deal in reality, where that game was a Hornet loss but its not nothing they played a mid-major opponent of some quality dead even for a large chunk of that game.
Like a lot of SWAC teams, the Hornets’ roster is mostly players who started at other colleges. On the current roster, 12 players come from the junior college ranks or another Division 1 institution.
Brandon Battle, a 6’8” junior forward who came to ASU by way of Jacksonville CC, has probably been their most effective player. Battle is tied for 2nd on the team in scoring and has been the Hornets’ best offensive rebounder through 2 games. The Coogs will likely see Battle and fellow junior (and JC product) Tyrese Robinson starting in the ASU frontcourt.
Kevin Holston, yet another junior who came to ASU by way of a JuCO, will start at point guard against the Cougars alongside diminutive junior Jacoby Ross. The Hornets’ leading scorer: senior Tobi Ewuosho, came off the bench in the first 2 games.
The success the Hornets have had in the tiny sliver of this current season came from mucking things up offensively for their opponent. Missouri State turned the ball over 20 times against ASU and as much as anything that probably kept ASU in that game. It’s hard to see them staying with the Cougars by way of any offensive prowess.
This is a game the Cougars should expect to win comfortably, but at the very least it will offer a more reliable data point than playing Division II Angelo State.