The Starting Lineup Preview

The SMU Mustangs are entering the 2010-11 season with no true identity, but after a sub .500 season, the Mustangs are out to prove the doubters wrong in the C-USA. Hoops Editor takes an in-depth look at the SMU starting lineup.

The SMU Mustangs are entering the 2010-11 season with no true identity, but after a sub .500 season, the Mustangs are out to prove the doubters wrong in the C-USA.

Unfortunately, SMU will embark on their new season minus a few key players from a year ago.

Derek Williams, the team's leading scorer last season, graduated and will no longer be the team's go-to-scorer as he was in seasons past. The most likely replacement for Williams was expected to be Paul McCoy; however, McCoy decided to transfer following the season, and is now at Saint Mary's.

The Mustangs will lose Williams' 16.6 points per game, along with McCoy's 7.4 points per game.

But that's not all they lost.

Mouhammad Faye's four years in Dallas are over, meaning the Mustangs will be without his 10.7 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Between those three guys, the Mustangs are losing 34.7 points per game. In 2009, SMU averaged 66.2 points per game. With Williams, McCoy, and Faye out of the picture, the 2010-11 Mustangs will need to account for the loss of over half of the team's points from a year ago.

The 2010 projected starting lineup is as followed:

PG Jeremiah Samarrippas

SG Rodney Clinkscale

G/F Justin Haynes

F Robert Nyakundi

PF Papa Dia

Can Papa Dia continue to progress of a great junior year
The biggest name returning is big man Papa Dia. Standing at 6'9", Dia is SMU's biggest force down low. He is coming off a good all-around season, scoring 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. By season's end, Dia totaled 10 double-doubles, including a season-high 14 rebound effort against Army in a 71-63 victory. His best overall game came when he scored 31 points and 12 rebounds against C-USA rival, Houston.

Alongside Dia is Robert Nyakundi. His 6'8", 220 pound frame makes him a solid rebounded, which was shown against Houston when he recorded 10 rebounds. However, his biggest weapon is his ability to score. After playing a limited role early on in the 2009 season, Nyakundi ended up being a vital player down the stretch. He put up 20 points against Houston Baptist, 18 against Central Florida, 18 against Houston, and then 13 at Tulsa. His season average in points was 7.6 and if SMU wants to turn heads in Conference USA, Nyakundi will need to average double-digit scoring figures throughout the season.

Taking over Williams' scoring load will be no easy task, but Justin Haynes and Rodney Clinkscale have the potential to make up in the scoring department, and then some.

Last season, Haynes averaged 5.6 points in just 25 minutes of play. Haynes played well in the first half of the season, with a handful of double-digit scoring efforts, including a 17 point outing against Florida Gulf Coast University.

In Clinkscales' case, he played a limited role, strictly coming off the bench, but did show signs of scoring potential against Occident and Houston. Shooting from behind the arc may be his best feature. He went 4-for-5 against Occident from three-point range, and had multiple games in which he hit three or more from beyond the arc. If he can consistently shoot from three-point range, Clinkscales could end up being one of the team's leading scorers by season end.

Freshman Jeremiah Samarrippas will be asked to contribute early
The man who will be held responsible replacing Williams at point guard is Jeremiah Samarrippas. To make things even harder on the young man, Samarrippas will be the team's starting point guard as a freshman. Coming out of the state of Florida, he went largely unrecruited, but head coach Matt Doherty has compared him to NBA star, Steve Nash. If Samarrippas resembles Nash in any way, then SMU may be lucky enough have found a diamond in the rough.

"With 19 home games, we have a chance to have a special season and I hope the fans will be a big part of it," Matt Doherty said.

We're hoping he's right!

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