Most articles and experts don’t have the Cougars close to the NCAA Tourney this season.
(21-11, 12-6), NIT
Coach: Kelvin Sampson (4th season)
RPI rank in 2017, 2016, 2015: 62-90-242
Key losses: G Damyean Dotson, an All-AAC selection, averaged 17.4 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Key returners: G Rob Gray led the conference in scoring at 20.6 points to earn all-conference honors. He made 47.3 percent of his shots (38.2 percent behind the arc) and 81.3 percent of his foul shots. G Galen Robinson averaged 4.8 assists, second in the AAC.
Key newcomers: Three Rivers Community College F Gabe Grant, who considered Wichita State, averaged 18.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. C Breaon Brady, from Saddleback (Calif.) Community College, averaged 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.
What to expect: Sampson is one of the American’s top coaches and he has the program moving in the right direction. All that is missing is a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are smart and unselfish with ball – their rate of turnovers on 14.9 percent of their possessions ranks No. 7 nationally, according to kenpom.com. They are also well-school on defense, good at communicating and working as a unit.