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53 Reasons: Scoochie

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_60D6716Scoochie at UMass last season. 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.

NOTE TO READERS: I want to salute the fans at some point in this series. Here’s my idea: Email me a photo of your favorite piece of UD memorabilia (david.jablonski@coxinc.com). It could be a ticket stub, a T-shirt, a poster, a newspaper page, a photo of you at a game, etc. And write a paragraph or two or more about the story behind it: where you got it, what it means to you, why it’s special, etc. Also tell me how long you’ve been a fan, how and why you started rooting for the Flyers. I will include the story and the text in a blog entry. The best photo and entry wins an 8×10 print of Vee Sanford’s shot against OSU or Jordan Sibert’s shot against Boise. Your choice.

No. 37: Scoochie Smith

Don’t worry, Jeremiah Bonsu. The Walk-On All-Stars will make this list. Eventually. How could I forget them?

However, I couldn’t go too much farther without talking about Scoochie Smith. He’s got the best first name in college basketball. I feel weird calling him Smith on second reference in stories. Scoochie says it all. He’s like a Brazilian soccer start: Pele, Ronaldo, Kaka.

You’ve probably read this Archie Miller quote from about Scoochie before, but I’m repeating it anyway because it’s such a strong statement about Smith, I mean Scoochie, heading into his junior season.

“The last six to eight games of the season, they were the most important of the year and he was far and away our most important guy,” Miller said. “We don’t have the run in the A-10 tournament, the run in the NCAA Tournament without him playing that way. I thought he played with tremendous confidence. He’s a guy that’s worked very hard every day. At times, his confidence isn’t where it should be. As the season progresses, he seems to always be ready to go toward the end. Our goal this year for Scoochie is to set him up at the beginning as he is at the end. If that’s the case, we have a chance to be good at the start.”

Halfway into his career, Smith has 211 assists. He averaged 2.8 as a freshman and 3.0 last season. It stands to reasons he’ll average even more the next two seasons. He’s well on his way to finishing in the top 10 in UD history in assists. Edwin Young ranks 10th with 407.

Smith was a workhorse for the Flyers last season (of course, everyone was). He played 1,181 minutes, almost twice as many as he did as a freshman (641). That’s the second most in UD history. That’s a lot but the two guys who have played the most minutes in one season in UD history also played last season: Jordan Sibert (1,215) and Dyshawn Pierre (1,202). Kyle Davis played 1,050. Kendall Pollard played 1,020.

Roosevelt Chapman (1,205 in 1983-84) is the only other player to top 1,200, but he played only 32 games. UD played 36 games last season. Take the total minutes record for what it’s worth, but it’s still a lot of minutes to play in four-plus months of games.

Scoochie, Pollard and Davis may only be juniors, but they’ve fit a lot of basketball into their first two seasons.

I talked to Scoochie in July. If you missed that story, here’s an excerpt:

Scoochie Smith pulled out his phone to show photos that prove how much work he has put into this offseason.

The Dayton junior point guard from Bronx, N.Y., has added 18 pounds of muscle in the last 12 weeks. One photo shows him in May. The second photo shows him this week. The added definition in his upper body is obvious.

Smith has played in 73 games the last two seasons. He will serve as a captain for a second straight season. He’s a veteran player even if he’s only halfway done with his Dayton career. He looks like an older player, too, with his added bulk.

“I go hard in the weight room,” Smith said Tuesday. “It’s been one of my best summers.”

Smith averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds as a sophomore. He played his best basketball in March, scoring 16 points against Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 tournament championship game and then 11, 11 and 16 in NCAA tournament games against Boise State, Providence and Oklahoma.

Smith made 11 of 20 shots from the field and 12 of 16 free throws in the NCAA tournament. Those three games point to Smith being an even bigger offensive force in the 2015-16 season.

“That’s the plan,” Smith said. “The plan is to start the season the way I ended it. Me and coach Archie (Miller) talked about that. He just talked about how the last two years I ended with real good (offensive performances). If I can just start the season the way I ended it, I think I’ll be in good shape, and we’ll have a lot more team success with me doing it that way.”

 

 


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