The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Mustangs basketball back in season

The SMU men’s basketball team tips off the season this Friday Nov. 12 with a home game in Moody Coliseum. The Ponies have elected to get the year started with non-conference foe, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Head coach Matt Doherty is looking to gain his second opening win in his first five seasons since inheriting the coaching job for SMU.

This year, SMU’s primary offensive attack will be led by senior Papa Dia. Dia, who averaged 28 points per game last season, has received numerous pre-season honors thus far.

He was named to the Athlon Sports and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook pre-season all C-USA teams and was also voted by the coaches of the conference as a member of the second team all-conference pre-season team.

Doherty expects for Dia to embrace the pre-season hype and to continue to grow into the role of team leader.

“He is someone I’m happy to talk about. I think he is deserving of the attention he’s getting,” Coach Doherty said about his senior Dia. “It is his team.

“He needs to be our leader, he needs to embrace that and I think he is. He is doing everything I ask of him and he has improved his game,” he said.

Doherty compliments Dia with a starting five that blends experience and youth together. The projected lineup for the Mustangs has senior guard Mike Walker, freshman point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas and junior Justin Haynes at forward serving as Papa Dia’s partner in the front court.

Coach Doherty has no issue in putting a freshman point guard on the court as his primary ball handler. Samarrippas enjoyed success at Bartow Senior High School in Bartow, Florida. During his career, he was named to the 5A all-state first team and led Barstow to a convincing victory in the 5A state finals in which Samarrippas put up 20 points.

In order for SMU to have an effective offense that is able to push the ball up court and score points, the Mustangs will have to rely on the 5’10” 180 pound freshman to manage the offense, get the ball to the scorers, and keep turnovers to a minimum.

“You got to have a guard that can get you some offense and Jeremiah [Samarripas] can do that,” Doherty said.  “Jeremiah is more of a traditional point guard in terms of looking for his teammates first, but yet he’s not afraid to score with the basketball.”

The Mustang faithful expect big things from Doherty in his fifth year of coaching at the Hilltop.

The Mustangs finished eighth in conference play last year and must improve from their 7-9 conference record last year in order to receive an opportunity to play in any type of post season tournament.

With five teams finishing conference play with winning records in 2009-2010, the Mustangs will have to compete in a tough conference that has proven its legitimacy and worth on a national level.

As SMU begins their season Friday, they search for their first winning season since 2002-2003.

The Ponies hope that not only will they find their winning ways once again.

Doherty, the former national Coach of the Year at the University of North Carolina, is optimistic about the direction he has SMU basketball heading in.

“I hope that we have a winning season in Conference- USA play, we’d like to finish in the top half of the league, we’d like to win the conference tournament. We’d like to go to post season play, those are all goals we have and I think that we have some things in place that can get us there.”


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