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-   -   One Hit Wonders? (Part Deux) (http://www.udpride.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9990)

John C. 03-28-2009 09:51 AM

One Hit Wonders? (Part Deux)
 
Over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to attempt to discuss each of the players and how they might fit into this ever improving team. However, it is a mistake to just consider the parts and not the whole. This team succeeded because of the way that they played as a team, not as individuals. If you just look at the numbers and add them up, you will not find a team that won 27 games, The reason that they succeeded was because of combining each of their efforts into an unselfish team effort. That is how they will continue to win in 2009/2010.

Point Guard

In looking at the returning roster, there should be improvement at every position on the court. One major area of concern would be Rob Lowery and his reconstructed knee. Everyone is taking for granted that he will come back next year at full strength and be ready for the open tip-off. There certainly is no guarantee that this will be the case. The healing of the tendon may take up to six months with another six months of rehabilitation. Certainly he will be motivated to make it an eight month or less recovery time, but there are no assurances.

It became painfully obvious that Steven Thomas is still not ready for prime time. Although there were improvements from last year, his assist to turnover ratio was 1:1. In comparing minutes and assists to London Warren, Warren had three times the number of minutes and turnovers but seven times the number of assists. Unless he makes the same type of improvement that Warren did last year, his playing time will not improve.

Although not listed as a point guard, Mickey Perry showed flashes that makes one less concerned about how quickly Lowery will need to be his old self. It is important that he continues to work on decision making as his ball handling seemed fine. Although his shooting stroke never really appeared, there is still hope that Mickey’s three point ability may resurface.

The combination of Warren and Lowery was better than expected. The improvement that Warren showed between his sophomore and junior seasons was phenomenal. Decision making and handle were both improved. He even improved his foul shooting by 10% which was not the norm on this team. His assist to turnover ration was a nifty 2.3 to 1. In comparison, Brian Roberts last year had a 1.2 to 1 ratio. If he can show the same kind of improvement with even a 15 jump shot, he might be able to play this game after he graduates.

Rob Lowery’s statistics are not ones that would turn anyone’s head. He shot just 35% from the field and had a 1.7 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. There were games he carried the Flyers, but there were games, you wished he would just stop shooting. Yet, there was something about his presence that made the Lowery/Warren combination something special. Certainly on the defensive end they were both special. An opposing point guard would almost have to stop for oxygen during the final minutes of games. If Lowery is 100% next year, this combination could be dynamite. An area of concern before this season will be a strength in 2009/2010.

Shooting Guard

Marcus Johnson was named co-MVP with Chris Wright for good reason. Without him, the season would have come crashing down. Forget his play in the NCAA Tournament, Johnson brings a good deal of ability to both sides of the ball. However, if you look at his statistics for the season, there was more drop
off than improvement. There really appeared to be a drop off as the season closed. Over the first 29 games Marcus connected on 48% of his shots. Over the last six that dropped off to 35%. His shooting percentages were down from his sophomore year across the board. This might have something to do with him spending more time at the two guard verses small forward.

Paul Williams really started to show some of the things that made him a top recruit as the season wore down. If he can stay 100% healthy next year, he could really help solve some of the issues that the Flyers have with outside shooting. If you take a look at his numbers after the conference season started you will find a more capable player than if you look at the entire season. He shot 43% on all field goals and 39% on threes. With just a little improvement he can make a real impact in an area that is certainly a weakness on this team.

Small Forward

Chris Wright will certainly get the bulk of the time at this position, probably getting close to 30 minutes per game. Obviously one of the most gifted athletes to ever wear a University of Dayton uniform. This young man has done more for the sustainability of the program than any student-athlete that I can remember. His desire to stay home and bring others with him will keep the Flyers afloat for years.

In the last two games of the season we probably saw the best of Chris Wright and the worst of Chris Wright. What he did to West Virginia shows that he can play in the NBA. What he showed against Kansas shows that he isn’t nearly ready for the next level. Chris will have 7 months to develop some new offensive moves. If he can add that illusive mid range jump shot to his game, there could be no stopping the kid. He obviously worked on his three point shooting last summer. With some improvement there and the mid range shot, he could average 18 points per game next year.

The back-ups for this position are a little less defined in that several individuals could be put there for short periods of time. Certainly Williams and Marcus Johnson could slide over to fill the need, but you also might see some Chris Johnson there, too. Any of these players are capable of filling in during short periods of time, but it is safe to say that Wright is the man and the Flyers will go as he goes.

Power Forward

Probably the most interesting position on the court for the 2009/2010 Flyers. There are so many names that could be thrown in here it is ridiculous. Chris Johnson would seem to lead the way based on this year’s production. Chris was sixth in minutes played and certainly brought a flair to the court when he play. It did seem, however, that he was either on or not. When he had a good game, he was involved. In the ones that he wasn’t , his time on the court was almost wasted. Johnson is somewhat of a tweener in that he doesn’t have the body of a 4 but certainly rebounds like one. He will have a much better opportunity for time here than trying to unseat Chris Wright.

If you split his games into good rebounding and not so good, you find some interesting information. If you split games by 4 or less rebounds as being not so good, you will find an average of 13 minutes played and 2.5 rebounds. This was over 17 games. The other 17 games represent an average of 20 minutes and just under 8 rebounds. It seems as if he was either on or off. Points were divided in pretty much the same fashion over these same games. In the lower rebounding games he scored just 3.6 points and in the higher rebounding games he averaged 8.9 points. He played well against good teams and disappeared against good teams so the competition had little to do with the results.

The Flyers need the good Chris Johnson. If he is on his game, he will make people question who the best player on the team is. If not, they may question why he is playing. Let’s hope we see the good Chris Johnson.

Luke Fabrizius showed at the end of the season why he was recruited. He lead the team in three point shooting at 37.5% but probably could have been well over 40% if he had just moved a little closer to the basket on a number of those threes. He likes to shoot from 23 feet when a dribble and step in could improve his accuracy. The key to his playing time will be his ability to add some weight and learn to guard the opponent. He saw limited playing time in games because he was a foot slower that most. We saw what happened to Mickey Perry in a year on the defensive end, let’s hope the same improvement comes from Luke.

In addition there is the possibility of both Devin Searcy and Josh Benson seeing time as power forwards. For Searcy to see increased playing time at either power forward or center, he is going to have to improve his play on the defensive end of the court. On the offensive end, he play about 12 minutes per game but was only able to take two shots during those 12 minutes. He will have to improve his level of confidence and offensive moves to be a factor.

Benson, on the other hand could be the real surprise here. Certainly the shoulder injury that he suffered this year slowed his ability to build on his slight frame (205 pounds, 6’ 9”). He will add a dimension to the mix that really wasn’t seen this year. Benson not only brings height (and hopefully some added size by next year) but speed and the ability to step out and hit a 15 foot shot. Charles Little brought a great deal to the table but never possessed the ability to stretch out the defense.

Benson is very similar to Chris Wright in that he is a quality kid that comes from a very religious background. He loves the fact that he is at the University of Dayton and was important in that he kept the string of top players staying home. His addition will certainly improve the depth and skill level of UD’s big men no matter which position he will play.

Center

There was no position that received more attention on Flyer Message boards that that of center. With the loss of Josh Benson before the season started, it certainly changed the view of what would be expected from the position. Kurt Huelsman has started every game since he began his matriculation at the University of Dayton. Not many players can make that statement. Yet he is a lightning rod for discontent for many Flyer fans.

Huelsman seemed to take a step backward with his offensive skills. The fact that he shot just 38% from the field in a season when his shot collection was concentrated within five feet of the basket would make one believe that he has lost a great deal of confidence. The fact that Gregory has defended Kurt in the newspaper several times has not seemed to help. The message boards have been extremely cruel and the moans from the crowd after another miss has to have an effect. Hopefully, the off season will allow Huelsman to work on his offensive skills and give him a shot of confidence. Until the disaster in the Kansas game, his defense had been very good. It is an area that has kept him on the floor.

The real answer at the center position could come with incoming freshman Matt Kavanaugh . Kavanaugh brings a much more refined offensive skill set than either Huelsman or Searcy provide. He is a solid player physically with the opportunity to add 10-20 pounds this summer under the direction of the UD staff. He has excelled against some top players in the last year and will be a pleasure to watch over the next four years.

The one thing that could stand in Kavanaugh’s way is Gregory’s preference for seniors over inexperienced freshman. It will be an interesting summer and fall for both Huelsman and Kavanaugh as they get the opportunity to bang each other while working at improving their skills.

Next season will be a very interesting year for the Flyers. They will return a team very similar to Gregory’s first team in that they will be returning from the NCAA Tournament with a senior driven class. The senior class of Huelsman, Warren, Lowery, Perry and Marcus Johnson has seen this team improve from middle of the road to one that might even be favored over Xavier in the challenging A-10. There will be a great deal of pressure to win, especially with the possibility that this might be Chris Writes’s last year.

Although I am sure that Brian Gregory is not one that spends a great deal of time just enjoying the moment, he should take a few days and enjoy where he has the Flyers. This team is well positioned to win over the next few years. Even if Wright decides to leave after his senior year (which would probably be against his mother’s wishes) there will still be a good deal of talent returning. The next few months will be important for not only the current Flyers but also the future Flyers. Gregory still has four scholarships to fill and how he fills those scholarships will set the team up into the mid 2010’s. As a fan, just sit back and enjoy.


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