1. PG Nic Moore
Nic Moore was hurt last game and sat out the majority of the second half, but before SMU’s win over UCSB, Moore was on a roll. Moore had three of his four highest-point totals of the season in three straight games after the Arkansas loss. Moore has clearly taken it upon himself to lead and will SMU to wins. When Markus Kennedy returns, expect a healthy Moore as well. SMU will need the pair to find their groove quickly before the matchup at Michigan.
2. C Yanick Moreira
After Moreira’s big opener against Lamar, the big man disappeared in losses to Gonzaga and Indiana. Aside from an average showing in just 16 minutes against Monmouth, SMU fans have seen Moreira take off. The past two games, Moreira has helped shut down two of the better big men in the country. Moreira has also found his shot. Moreira went for 15 points in the past two games while playing with increased confidence. The sky is the limit for Moreira and when Kennedy returns on Dec. 17, that will help take some pressure off of Moreira.
3. F Ben Moore
Ben Moore had a little bit of a drop in his game after being SMU’s best player during the first three games. After being held to under double-digit scoring in four straight games, Moore had 14 and 7 against Wyoming and 11 and 8 against UCSB. Moore also hit 15-of-17 free throws. With Kennedy set to return, it’ll be interesting to see where Larry Brown plays Moore, but you can be certain that he won’t have problems finding ways to get him into the game.
4. SG Keith Frazier
Frazier didn’t jump Ben because Ben has proven to be a more reliable scorer than Frazier, who after having his three highest point totals of his career, had four points in the next two games. All Frazier did against UCSB was go 50 percent from beyond the arc, scoring 20 points, going 4-for-4 from the line and grabbing five boards while playing great defense. That’s the Keith Frazier SMU has to have if the offense is having trouble finding its groove.
5. Ryan Manuel
I’ve been hard on Ryan Manuel because of his play early this season, but I guess all that needed to change was the rotation. Since going into the starting lineup, Manuel has shown improved handles, more aggression and just a better game playing alongside Nic Moore. Is the offense perfect running through Manuel when Nic is off the floor? No, but Manuel’s ability to guard, drive to the basket and limit turnovers will be key to SMU’s success. If Brown chooses to go big with the two Moores, Frazier, Moreira and Kennedy, SMU will be in good shape with Manuel coming off the bench.
6. C Cannen Cunningham
Cunningham very quietly scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in SMU’s win over UCSB. Cunningham’s problem though is his effort. Sometimes Cunningham just looks like he’s going through the motions. Against Eastern Washington, Moreira saw just four minutes for example. If Brown isn’t seeing anything out of Cunningham, he’ll sit him and doesn’t have a problem letting our next SMU player in the countdown take some minutes down low.
7. G/F Sterling Brown
After starting as a freshman, Brown has been in more of a rotational role for SMU this year. Brown hasn’t seen many looks to shoot the ball, but he’s been solid in his time on the floor at rebounding. If Larry Brown wants Sterling to go get rebounds, you can bet that Sterling is going to do it. Again, with Kennedy’s return this is going to be a player in an interesting spot with less minutes to go around.
8. G/F Justin Martin
It was Martin’s first game back from his knee injury, but it was good to see Martin at least moving well again. While he likely wasn’t 100 percent, Martin came in and didn’t hurt the team except for his 1-for-5 from the field. Martin needs the extra time to recover so the break before UIC couldn’t have come at a better time.
9. G Ben Emelogu
Emelogu has had a rough time getting into any sort of a groove and lost his spot in the starting lineup to Manuel because of it. While Emelogu hasn’t taken many shots, he hasn’t been setting the world on fire with the ones he has connected on. That being said, Emelogu was clutch for SMU in overtime against UCSB, making a jumper and hitting two key free throws, but his play has to get better.