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 (email@example.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. 32: Walk-on All-Stars
It seems silly to talk about actual basketball with Dyshawn Pierre situation, as the kids would say, blowing up. I read the entire incident report after DDN’s Josh Sweigart got it and still don’t know what to think. I don’t know where it goes from here.
However, with or without Pierre, the Flyers will start practice a week from tomorrow: Friday, Oct. 2, and they’re a month away from the Red and Blue game on Oct. 24.
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the Walk-On All-Stars (the WOAS from here on). That was my nickname last season for the group that included Joey Gruden, William Dupuy, Nick Haldes and Jeremiah Bonsu. I’m not including Bobby Wehrli in the group even if he doesn’t get a scholarship because he’s proven he’s good enough to be on scholarship. Not that the WOAS couldn’t be on scholarship. We may need a Kickstarter campaign for that.
I thought for sure one of the WOAS would play meaningful minutes at some point last season. The Flyers walked a tightrope line with foul trouble for most of the season because they had only seven scholarship players.
Archie Miller somehow found a way to manage that issue. The WOAS played a grand total of 14 minutes. Former Ohio State walk-on Mark Titus, who gained fame with his Club Trillion blog and now writes for Grantland, would have been proud of their season line score: 14 minutes played, no other stats: not a point, rebound, assist, block or anything. Honestly, I had no idea they had no stats until just checking last year’s numbers. The Trillion in Club Trillion refers to one minute played and a long line of zeroes.
Despite their lack of stats, the WOAS had a great impact on the team. Somebody had to step up in practice to help the Flyers. The Flyers needed bodies. Allen Griffin and graduate assistant coaches Brian Frank and Brian Walsh practiced with the players.
Gruden had offers to play Division III basketball but chose to attend UD where his grandpa Jim Gruden coached under John McVay and his uncle Jon Gruden played long before winning a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay.
“Sure, I’d love to work up into the rotation somehow, but I just love being a part of the team, being around the guys, practicing every day,” Gruden told Tom Archdeacon in January. “I want to coach basketball one day, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can from Coach Miller. He’s very intense. It can be fun, but every day is a hard day.”
Bonsu started as a student manager and joined the team as a walk-on midway through last season. He spoke to MidMajorMadness.com in an interview released Thursday.
“Last February, I was lucky enough to become a walk on for our team,” Bonsu said. “It was a dream come true. A lot of people don’t know that I originally wanted to be a walk on at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t make the team. That was one of the greatest things to happen to me. When I became a manager I worked hard so to be noticed and that work ethic went into everything I do now.”
Dupuy is the one walk-on we really haven’t written about, but he does have a highlight video on YouTube. He suffered an injury last season, which is why a spot opened for Bonsu.