For Men’s Basketball, tournament chances dashed in season-ending loss

MSU Denver guard Brian Howard shoots a layup against the Oredigger’s forward Caleb Waitsman at the RMAC game at Colorado School of Mines on March 3. Roadrunners lost 61-70. Photo by Lauren Cordova •

Men’s basketball finished a tumultuous season on March 3 when they lost to the No. 14 Colorado School of Mines Orediggers 61-70 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.

The game meant the end of the college careers of senior forward Andre Harris and senior guard Brian Howard. Howard was the second-leading scorer for the Roadrunners this season and averaged 13 points per game, while Harris was fifth on the team in scoring and second in rebounds, having averaged 8.9 and 6.6, respectively. He also led the team in blocked shots.

The Runners finished the season with an overall record of 17-13, continuing a downward trend since their NCAA runnerup 2012-2013 season, where they finished 32-3. The next season they finished 32-2, but failed to reach the championship game after being eliminated in the Final Four. In the 2014-2015
season the Runners went 26-6, and then 19-11 last year when they failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

While the Runners have had a couple of down years, at least where the lofty expectations of the MSU Denver men’s basketball program are considered, they are returning all but two of their players. They return leading scorer Cam Williams, who will be a senior next year. They also return two more of their starters in junior guard Sunday Dech and junior forward Bounama Keita. Dech was the third leading scorer on the team this year and Keita was second on the team in blocked shots.

The Runners also return Alec Williams, a freshman guard this year who saw his minutes increase substantially throughout the season as he proved his reliability.

The looming question for the team is whether or not Derrick Clark will return for the final season on his contract. Clark missed the last seven games for the team after being suspended and taking an indefinite leave of absence. With recruiting season coming up, the Runners will need to have a clear leader who
can ensure prospective student athletes and their parents that playing at MSU Denver will be beneficial for them.

Author: David Schaut

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