Dayton’s Kendall Pollard celebrates as the final seconds tick away in a victory against Rhode Island in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Saturday, March 14, 2015, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. David Jablonski/Staff
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 48: Kendall Pollard highlights
There will be more than one item on this list relating to Kendall Pollard. I could probably come up with 53 reasons just to watch Pollard in his junior season with the Flyers: the blocks, the dunks, the rare 3-point attempts that make Archie Miller cringe (though Pollard made a respectable 3 of 9 last season). He even makes the free throws exciting.
Since the second-to-last game of the 2013-14 season — the Stanford game, Pollard’s breakout game — he has been the most exciting player on the team. Every time he touches the ball, there’s a chance SportsCenter will feature him that night in its Top 10 plays.
Pollard led the team with 55.2 percent shooting from the field in part because he has a knack for finishing at the rim and also because more than a few of those rim-shaking (or rim-hanging in the case of the one that earned him a technical foul in Puerto Rico) dunks.
Pollard also led the Flyers with 32 blocked shots last season. That was more than a third of the team’s total (91). No one else had more than 17.
Pollard averaged one block per game in A-10 play. He was one of 16 players in the A-10 to average at least one block per conference game. All but two players in that group measured below 6-7: Pollard and VCU’s Mo Allie-Cox (both 6-6).
Pollard blocked a shot against Fordham last season so hard the ball stuck between the rim and the backboard.
“Breakaway blocks have always been fun to me,” Pollard said at the time. “When I saw the opportunity, I just tried to make a hard play on the ball, and it happened. I tried to keep it in play. That’s even better. But we got the ball back because it was a jump ball.”
Of course, one YouTube clip isn’t enough. UD produced an entire mixtape for Pollard (and the other players as well). Here’s his:
There’s more to Pollard than highlights. Here’s what Archie Miller had to say about him in May: “He’s a guy that I thought was an all-conference player. I was happy he won most improved player. I don’t think there was a guy we depended on more to do a lot of different things for us. His quest as a player is to become more skilled. He gets fouled at an alarming rate, but he’s got to go to the line and make more. He knows that.
“Being able to slim down a little bit more to guard different positions is something we’re concerned about right now with him. Just in general, his mentality and the way he does things, can he be all-conference for us? Can he be a go-to guy, a guy that you rely on to attack the other team? He’s in a good place right now. He’s confident after his year. If we can settle him in at the foul line, he can even be better.”