Two UD fans at VCU. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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. 34: Surprises
Well, as I tweeted yesterday, there may be 53 reasons to look forward to the season, but there’s now one big reason not to. Still I’ll move forward with this list, even as I try to track down anything specific we can print about the Dyshawn Pierre situation, because I’ve come too far.
Obviously, the news yesterday was the worst sort of surprise. There have been plenty of those in recent seasons: Matt Kavanaugh, Devon Scott, Jalen Robinson, now Pierre.
There are bound to be a few good surprises to come out of this season. Since this is a list of things to look forward to, we’ll search for some silver linings in a dark week.
Last year, it was Bobby Wehrli’s contributions, Kendall Pollard’s huge leap and the First Four announcement, a bad surprise that turned out all right. Two years ago, Devin Oliver’s improved 3-point shooting would belong on the list of surprises. Of course, the entire Elite Eight run was the greatest surprise of all.
What will happen this season that would surprise us? A few possibilities:
- A freshman starter: There’s a spot open for the first 10 games at least. You can pencil in four starters: Scoochie Smith, Pollard, Kyle Davis and Charles Cooke. Steve McElvene or Darrell Davis could grab the other job. Or it could be one of the four freshman. Archie Miller is high on all four. John Crosby might the most polished because he had a year to polish his game at a prep school after graduating from high school. But if he’s backing up Scoochie Smith at point guard, it’s unlikely he would start. That leaves the 6-9 Sam Miller, the 6-8 Xeyrius Williams or the 6-7 Ryan Mikesell.
- More Wehrli: While the walk-on turned scholarship player turned walk-on looked overmatched in some games, he held his own most of the time and hit some big shots throughout the season. He made 12 of 24 3-pointers. Without Pierre, I can see Wehrli playing meaningful minutes early in the season. A source told me in August he wouldn’t be on scholarship this semester. I don’t know if that changed (or if there’s time for it to change) with the news about Pierre. UD had one scholarship open but wanted to keep it open in case it got a late transfer. I would think he would at least get one for next semester since that’s what happened last season.
- Player of the year: DeAndre Bembry is the favorite to win A-10 player of the year. Pierre would have certainly ranked in the top five. What about Kendall Pollard? He’ll have a better chance as a senior, but if his game can take another leap, he can at least join the conversation. He’s one of the more efficient offensive players in the conference because of his ability to finish. He shot 55 percent from the field last season. He needs to improve his free-throw shooting and hit a few mid-range jumpers, which he has shown the ability to do. But we all know he can fill a stat sheet.