BY: Richard W. Humphrey
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – On Palm Sunday, the Rev Bryan Dunagan, Senior Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, mentioned NCAA brackets in the opening remarks of his sermon. He certainly got a crowd reaction after all the first round upsets. He relayed his prediction saying, “For my brackets, I picked SMU to go all the way.”
Rev. Dunagan would have had a better chance to win if he had picked Villanova, but for sure, the team he picked to win it all did not lose a game in this year’s tournament. It’s still disappointing though, to see Syracuse and North Carolina playing in the Final Four, when those two schools had much more significant NCAA violations that occurred prior to SMU’s. The inequity still rankles.
Head Coach Larry Brown has been interviewed a number of times in the past few weeks. He’s taken the very practical approach to the post season that “yes” it was disappointing for the players to not have the opportunity to play in the post season, but the team has moved on. His priority now is to get the team ready for next season and hopefully back into the Tournament.
SMU’s basketball program got another shot in the arm when Fernando Bruno verbally committed to attend SMU. Bruno is a four star prospect; a 6′-10″ center, ranked as the eighth best center and 70th best player in this year’s recruiting class by ESPN. He played this past season at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida. He had numerous scholarship offers including SEC schools LSU and Alabama.
The addition of Bruno to the other four recruits previously committed improved SMU’s rank to the 14th best recruiting class this year. The spring recruits can begin formally signing with their schools next Wednesday, April 13.
Bruno, along with Harry Froling and Ted Kapich, who had committed earlier, should keep the Mustangs well stocked at the 4-5 positions next season. Senior Ben Moore returns from last year’s team, though he could easily see more time at the three. Semi Ojeleye, the 6′-8″ transfer from Duke will likely start at the four or five next season. Inside play should not be a problem.
The Mustangs should have 10-11 scholarship players with the five incoming freshmen. Four of the seven scholarship players in the playing rotation at season’s end – Moore, Sterling Brown, Jarrey Foster, and Shake Milton – are expected back. Ojeleye and perhaps Ben Emelogu will return. Emelogu was forced out of action this season by knee problems that required surgery, after an earlier back injury. There is some question as to whether he will be physically able to continue his playing career.
The bottom line is that this recruiting class is perhaps the best ever at SMU. Assuming all the verbally committed players follow through on their commitment, sign with SMU and actually show up next fall; the team is essentially re-stocked to continue their run as one of the top basketball programs in the country.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SMU named Travis Mays to replace Rhonda Rompola as the new head basketball coach of Women’s basketball team. SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart announced the hire on Thursday and Mays was introduced at a Friday afternoon news conference.
Mays has been the Associate Head Coach for the Women’s basketball program at Texas the past four years. He has also coached at LSU and Georgia and in the WNBA since retiring from his playing days in the NBA, where he had a three year career that was shortened by injury. He was the 14th pick in the first round of the 1990 NBA draft after a four year career at Texas in which he was named Honorable Mention All American as a senior. He is still the second leading scorer in the history of University of Texas basketball.
Mays is regarded as a gifted floor coach and has roots in recruiting Texas.
FOOTBALL: Spring Training is down to the final week. The Blue – Red game is scheduled for next Saturday, April 16 at 1:00 PM.