Key Losses: F Marques Lewis (8.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), G Donell Taylor (15.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.0 apg), G Ronell Taylor (11.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg),
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated LSU 82–68, lost to Arizona 85–63 in the second round
Paul Delaney III
Birmingham, AL/Redshirt 2004-05
Carbondale, IL/Moberly Area (MO) CC
Miami, FL/Transfer from Arkansas
Gentry, MS/Indianola Gentry
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Ever since that NCAA Tournament upset of top-seeded Kentucky two years ago, people within the basketball community have been wondering the same thing: When will Mike Anderson leave?
At this point, most would have assumed it would've already happened. He did, after all, interview with Auburn and flirt with Tennessee.
No matter; UAB has managed to hang onto the man who makes the Blazers matter. Anderson is now entering his fourth season at the school and already has three NCAA Tournament wins, including a spot in the 2004 Sweet 16. This year, he returns ten players from a squad that upset LSU in the first round last March, meaning another trip to the Big Dance isn't out of the question.
Though his statistics aren't overwhelming, the leader of this team is probably Carldell 'Squeaky' Johnson. The 5-foot-10 point guard is the sparkplug that makes the Blazers go, running up and down and around the court in what is best described as controlled chaos, evidence being his 73 steals against only 56 turnovers. Joining Johnson in the backcourt is Marvett McDonald, a shooter who proved to be a steady threat in his first year of Division I hoops. The Memphis native reached double-figures in scoring in the Blazers' four contests leading into the NCAA Tournament, then dropped 21 points on LSU.
Still, there are concerns, namely on the wings and up front, where the Blazers lost Marques Lewis and both Taylor twins.
On the wing, the most likely successor to the Taylors is Wen Mukubu, a 6-6 transfer from Arkansas. In two seasons with the Hogs, Mukubu never emerged, but Anderson was eager to accept him at UAB. Assuming he's the answer there, he'll play alongside Demario Eddins, a power forward who averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game a year ago.
But who is going to be in the middle? That's the biggest issue facing UAB. The Blazers only have two players -- Frank Holmes and Ernest Little -- who stand 6-9 or taller, and neither played even 11 minutes per game last season. Likewise, none of the recruits is the answer inside. But Anderson must find at least a body to stick in the paint. Otherwise, his team could consistently be beaten around the basket, as was the case a year ago when UAB ranked 13th in C-USA in rebounding margin.