While inevitably conference players are discussed in almost every discussions post, at the half way mark it seemed a good time to have a chat about a bunch of them in one fell swoop. These guys are being highlighted because of some combination: they made one of the first two all-conference teams, played in the GNAC last year, and/or are under achieving.
In the case of a number of guys: It’s possible to make the all conference team and still be underachieving.
Travis Thompson: Travis was tapped as the pre-season conference player of the year, and honestly: I didn’t see it then, don’t see it now, and before the season started it was figured that other people knew more and better. Now? Trust your training, blog edition. They way people talked about Travis, it was the second coming of David Downs (um, no) and so the mind was open. Going back and evaluating his stats from last year -the comparison is more understandable. He was good; would have made first team amongst this years guys, but he made backward progress as much as he might’ve made forward progress. The Travis of last year was better than the Travis of this year. Part of that could be the talent he’s playing with, but… his A/TO ratio is better this year. There’s still half a season left and hopefully we’ll see the Travis that we all know he can be.
Cory Hutsen: Cory Hutsen was projected to be the best center in the conference this year. He’s a fifth year guy, is known for a great hook shot and poor free throw shooting. He tends to avoid confrontation in the paint, leaving body guard Riley Stockton to worry about grabbing rebounds. This year his free throw shooting has improved but as of late, his actual shooting has fallen off rather than come on stronger. How does shooting fall off when you’re two feet from the basket? That’s anyone’s guess. Looking at his stats compared to last year, the good news is he’s improved a good amount. The bad news is, he’s still far below his potential. We believe in Cory -why he’s drifting so far out of the paint falls on the coaching staff and they’ve gotta get him back in there.
Devon Alexander: Amazing last year, is getting over-shadowed by Julian Nichols this year. More great guards are better than less great guards, so… where is that Devon and can he come back? He’s basically disappeared to the point of not even being considered for calculation -only when going back and looking at last years stats was it a “wait, what? Where did this guy go?” He only has one player-of-the-week nomination. While that’s all well and good for Julian -Julian, welcome to the conference, you are AMAZING; we want to see Devon be awesome too -great guards can pretty easily coexist and if this WOU team had yet another fantastic weapon? Whoa. Just whoa. 3-much-5-me.
Dom Williams & Joe Stroud: Notoriously the best guys on the Central team, but neither made all-conference. It was discussed that CWU is good at playing the team game. Not basketball -they’re not exactly great at basketball- but they make-up for it by working together. The Wildcats might consider becoming a rowing team once basketball season ends -you need much less coordination and as long as you’re tall, muscular, and committed you’ll be great; they even have Naim Ladd, at 5’6, to be the coxswain! See? It’s perfect. Still, with this level of teamwork and increasing basketball skills, it’ll be interesting to see if Dom and Joe really pick it up and thus elevate the CWU team even further. Will they challenge WOU? The potential is there.
Trey Ingram & Alex Birketoft: Not on the same teams; Trey plays for SMU, Alex NNU -but both are frosh and both are rockin’ it and we just wanted to take a minute to congratulate them on coming in and playing so well. Trey is the most effective player on his team according to our calculations, is such a critical piece regardless because that team doesn’t have a lot, and if his upper class brethren would step up -Trey would actually look even better. Alex plays with talented guys in Erik and Kevin, but still really stands out. He’s only played ten games but eight of them have been in conference. They’ve got him as a 6’8 W -part of that could be his European background, gotta develop him in our American ways of post play, but he’s a frosh and there’s plenty of time for that. Congrats to both Trey and Alex -so proud of you and can’t wait to see more during the second half!
Riley Carel: Deserves a spot in this post, but we talk about him all the time, so you largely know what we think. He did decide to start passing against SFU, which as noted: was idiotic, but hopefully he’ll try it again against SPU and MSUB -Trey Ingram grades out better than he does, so ironically not passing is basically only excusable against Simon Fraser.
Riley Stockton, Matt Borton, and Mitch Penner: There’s really not a lot to discuss -Riley is the primary body guard of Cory Hutsen, but Matt and Mitch have their moments. Riley is really known in our conference for his rebounding prowess and this year it’s been great because Matt’s taken a lot of the load which enables Riley to become the master of assists, which is very necessary. These three play really cohesively, reminding that basketball isn’t always a screw-over-your-teammates game and it is possible to challenge each other in the right ways rather than the wrong ones.
Brian McGill: Brian was out and UAA was bad. CWU likely still would’ve won at UAA, but it would’ve been a lot more difficult and much, much closer had Brian played. He actually may be the person suffering the most from Travis not being as good as anticipated -together, along with a developing Kalidou, they make up a great core. Brian was tapped as a guy to watch and in a sense it was great to see the Seawolves without him; everyone got a good reminder of just how valuable he is. Hopefully his teammates step up.
Anye Turner: Needs to stop getting in so much darn foul trouble! He’s productive enough that he doesn’t deserve the boatload of crap that Riley Carel gets, but he is underachieving just as much as Travis Thompson. Anye is revered around here and would likely be challenging for player-of-the-year if he’d simply stay out of foul trouble or not get into it so early. We value fouls -a lot, and even with how few minutes he plays (25) he’s ridiculously effective. If he could actually go deep and start hitting in the realm of 30 minutes, upping his production accordingly? KAPOW. Conference most effective player, hands down, no questions asked.
Kevin Rima & Erik Kinney: As noted above, are great, along with Alex Birketoft are leading the team to new heights. Erik comes back, Kevin doesn’t, Kevin really needs to put in some time mentoring Alex. They have different bodies, but banging up against Kevin wouldn’t be the worst option for Alex’s development. These guys get it done, their leadership is so valuable, and make it pretty much impossible to root against the Crusaders.
Other players considered for the above include: Jeff Parker, Momir Gataric, Julian Nichols, Ashton Edwards, and Ruben Silvas; ultimately it was decided that we either need more info in the second half or that we have plenty of info and discussion isn’t needed at all (see: Ruben and Julian are awesome -the end).
Up next: Discussions about the GNAC and our bracketology on the whole, as well as the breakdown of expectations for each team during the second half in regard to each game and whether or not they get the ‘W.’
The usual Game Day Preview will be up at noon.