Mount Zion fans and Coach Antonio Fozard were spoiled last year. With guys like Roy Bright, Mohamed Tangara and Albert Weber in the mix, the talent level in the program was at an all-time high. It would be unrealistic to think the Mighty Warriors could replicate that talent in back-to-back years.
Last season, Mount Zion was in cruise control as is ripped through its schedule with relative ease. Fozard knows his job is much tougher this season.
“I’m going to have to do a lot more coaching this year than I did last season,” Fozard quipped. “There will have to be more fundamentals than last year. These guys haven’t reached their peak at this level.”
“These guys” meaning the current Mount Zion team, isn’t lacking in talent but it doesn’t feature the proven commodities the program is typically used to, except for one: Brandon Rush.
The No. 4 prospect in America, a native of Kansas City, is going to have to shoulder the scoring burden and take an active role in the point production category. “He’s going to have to get 25 [points] for us every time,” Fozard said.
Rush, a potential early entry candidate, will be ready. “I’m going to try to have a great year and come out and play hard,” Rush said.
Hoping to take some of the scoring duties off Rush will be vastly improved power forward Shawn Taggart. The 5th year standout was a role player for the Warriors last season and played sparingly. However, he exploded in the summer of 2004 and since July has shown the ability to be a nice high-major player.
Scoring option No. 3 could very well be a reclassified junior from New Orleans named Danero Thomas. The 6-foot-5 wing is strong, athletic and looks aggressive enough to help out as a slasher. He and Tracy Smith, a junior power forward, round out the core group of talent this team is built around.
Lamar Roberson, another 5th year prospect, arrived on campus in late September and he’s going to play a big role for the team as well.
Fozard does have some young talent in the program. Class of 2006 center Franklin Jones hasn’t reached his potential but at 6-9 and 260 pounds, you have to watch him. Ditto for Xavier Crawford who is every bit as skinny as Jones is thick. The Minnesotan is just a junior and could wind up being the team’s leading shot blocker.
Point guard is going to be an area of concern for this bunch. There is no Tasheed Carr on the roster. Kenyour Williams, a native of New Jersey, will get the early shot at leading this bunch, along with reclassified junior Matt Garth from California.
Mount Zion is likely consistently be in the headlines as Rush has made it clear that he’s interested more in the draft than college at this point. We’re a month or so away from the beginning of his NBA audition.