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Fri, Aug 29, 2014

JORDAN: MTSU point guards 'heart and soul' of teams

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Question: Can you identify the best player on your team and are they always the “heart and soul” of your team? The answer is ... maybe.

Let’s look at MTSU's Lady Raiders. The best player could be heading toward All-American status. I’m speaking to those of you who are perhaps living in caves and other remote places. Ebony Rowe is the all-time leading scorer at MTSU and breaks her on record every time she scores.

Without her, the Lady Raiders would be sneaking up on 10 wins rather than speeding past 20 and a Top 25 ranking. Rowe usually leads the Lady Raiders in scoring and rebounding, and they will not win many games without her.

Is she the best Lady Raider? Yes – little question. Is she the heart and soul of the Lady Raiders? Doubtful. I think that’s No. 5 Shanice Cason.

Cason, the team's starting point guard, leads the Lady Raiders in assists, courage and spirit. She plays the game hard, takes charges, plays good defense, can score, makes few turnovers, can get the ball where it belongs on offense and constantly disrupts the opponent’s offense. She never quits.

With the Blue Raiders it’s more complicated. Shawn Jones is a physically imposing player and is often the leading scorer and /or rebounder. He should be  a first-team All-Conference USA player (Middle's first one). However, he is not the best athlete.

The problem is, I’m not sure who it is. It could be Neiko Hunter or maybe Reggie Upshaw. It might be Kerry Hammonds. MTSU always play better when Kerry plays well. He can set a tone, and the Blue Raiders usually win when he’s on.

I don’t think any of those fine players are the “heart and soul” of the Raiders. That distinction belongs to senior point guard Tweety Knight. When he is not on the floor, MTSU begins to suffer almost immediately, no matter who takes his place.

Tweety leads the Blue in smarts, assists, effort, spirit and hustle. He can score when needed and really works on defense. I really like his demanding motivating nature as a leader and he never, ever quits.

Some notes: The Lady Raiders are usually far ahead of their opponents in attendance, even if you take the Tennessee game and the Murfreesboro City Schools game out of the equation.

The Lady Raiders usually trail their opponents in foul shooting percentage.

The Lady Raiders foul less than their opponents, get more rebounds, many more assists (Cason!), make fewer turnovers (Cason again!) and they get more steals. The Lady Raiders block fewer shots.

On the men’s side, the Raiders usually outdraw their opponents.

It’s close, but the Raiders also usually trail in free throw percentage. That’s no surprise to those of us in section G. It’s driving us nuts, Kermit!

The Raiders foul less than their opponents and the Blue get more rebounds, more assists (Knight!), blocks and steals (Knight!). The Raiders also make fewer turnovers (Knight again!).

A few of these stats are close, but usually MTSU is on the positive side of these numbers, and as a result, both teams are thriving. GO BLUE!

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jeff jordan, lady raiders, MTSU, point guards, sports
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February 07, 2014 at 11:57pm
Although I think this is a great article and certainly has a unique viewpoint of the “heart and soul” for the MTSU men’s and women’s basketball teams, it is relied heavily upon stats.

I like the thought of Tweety Knight and Shanice Cason being considered the heart and soul of their respective teams, but there is a big difference between being a leader and simply a facilitator. Knight and Cason do lead their team in assists, but Ebony Rowe and Shawn Jones are far and beyond the main reasons the Blue Raiders and Lady Raiders have enjoyed success.

In regards to Knight, Tweety has struggled mightily defensively since taking the reins with Bruce Massey and Marcos Knight graduating. Knight has also struggled with his free throws, something that Coach Kermit Davis has tried to fix, but to no avail. In fact, Knight’s free throw woes and defensive struggles have nearly cost the Blue Raiders in multiple games.

Shawn Jones is the soul of the Blue Raiders, and you don’t need to look at his statistics and recent level of play to see that. Jones puts in more work in practice than any other player, and when he doesn’t play good (See EX: Florida, Cincinnati, UTEP) the Blue Raiders are usually on the losing end.

Ebony Rowe is Ebony Rowe. Plain and simple. She is a leader in the community, classroom, and on the court. She is the definition of a practice player and her numbers speak for themselves, even with the slightly lower assist total than Cason.
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