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. Anyone who submits a story gets four 4×6 prints of UD buzzer-beaters in the last two years.
No. 27: Freshman contributions
The basketball season really doesn’t begin for me until I find myself at the airport at 4:30 a.m. trying to catch a flight to Richmond or Providence or St. Louis or some other exotic A-10 locale. It used to always be basketball season for me. I played three times a week 52 weeks a year (three games to 30; 2s and 3s; 5 on 5 full court, always) for almost five years in the decades-old Wittenberg Noon Basketball Association. Moved to Columbus because the wife got a new job. Lost my games. I’ve written way more than I’ve played the last two years.
Anyway, basketball season kicked off in a way Thursday. Archie Miller met with the media at the Cronin Center one day before the first official practice. We’ll be out there today to photograph and film the first 20 minutes of practice. As I wrote in the paper today, there was no Midnight Madness fanfare to go with the start of practice but plenty of intrigue regarding the Dyshawn Pierre situation. As expected, we got no news on that front (but did get exciting news on the Wehrlibird front). Archie can’t comment on Pierre, and he’s too smart to be tripped up by hard-hitting questions like, “So how’s Canada at this time of year?”
Among the topics we did discuss was the freshman class. They’ve been on campus since the second summer session started in late June. The coaching staff has a good idea of what they can do by this point.
I asked Archie who among the four — Xeyrius Williams, John Crosby, Sam Miller and Ryan Mikesell — will be ready to contribute first.
“I don’t know,” Miller said. “All four guys have done a really good job. From Xeyrius and Sam’s perspective, being in the front court, they have an opportunity just because of the depth. John, being a true point guard, we’ve got to develop him if he’s going to play. I think Ryan Mikesell has really surprised everyone by how competitive he is, how tough he is, the things he’s brought to our team from an intangible point. I see all four guys having a signifcant role. Whether it’s good bad, or ugly, our freshmen have really developed in the last couple years.”
We also specifically about Williams, since he’s the most local of the four. Williams grew up in Springfield and started Wayne in ninth grade like Braxton Miller, Trey DePriest and Travis Trice. That’s become a bitter rivalry. The two teams brawled in January.
Williams has been a joy to coach, Miller said.
“He’s as coachable as any guy we’ve had,” Miller said. “You can tell coach (Travis) Trice over there at Wayne, those guys do a phenomenal job. He’s prepared. He works extremely hard. He’s got an unbelievable motor. The one thing that’s surprising about him as a young guy is his agility, his ability to move as a front-court player is impressive. Defensively, he’s ahead of the game. We’re starting to be able to ask him to do things a lot of freshman can’t do. He’s versatile. His body’s got to change. He’s got to continue to grow and get weight, but he’s young. He’s probably the youngest guy on the team. I have high hopes for him, but more than anything, I’m happy he’s with us. He’s a great kid. He’s the type of guy you win with.”