Monday, October 18, 2010

Best Case/Worst Case And Hopes: Freshmen Players

As we look ahead to the beginning of the 2010-11 season, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the best and worst case scenarios for each of the Oakland U basketball players. The expectations are quite high this year in Rochester, and many of the Golden Grizzlies ballers will need to have great seasons in order for the team to achieve the kind of success many are predicting. In writing several of these blurbs, we attempted to make them as fun as possible. Our goal is not to be discouraging of the players; in fact as dedicated fans, it's just the opposite. With that said, we hope a little humor here and there makes this a fun read, and please note we never joke about injuries. Obviously, that would be a true "worst case," but we're not going there. After reading the various best and worst case scenarios we've concocted, there is also a line featuring our hopes for each player. Remember, this is just the perspective of one fan and should not be considered any kind of definitive word on the players. First up is a look at the freshmen class.
Travis Bader (redshirt freshman)
Best Case Scenario: Gets first playing time in preseason exhibition, displays a knack for knocking down shots and hustling. Kampe plays him sparingly in first few games, often in the middle of the first half and during garbage time of one or two BCS blowouts. Continues to hit shots when called upon, establishing himself as a pure shooter for the Grizzlies. Sees his playing time increase during conference play where he can prove deadly against similar-bodied competition. While he isn't a featured guard yet, he ends season feeling confident about his expanding role.

Worst Case Scenario: Plays in exhibition game, putting on a show with his threes. Wealth of guards on the roster limits his opportunities during early season games. Oakland keeps all of the BCS-level games close so Bader only comes in for final seconds of each as a result. Supports team on the bench and in practice. Ends season slightly concerned about playing time, but Ricky Bieski pays him a visit, assuring him the program and fans will treat him well throughout his time at OU despite not being a featured player.

What We're Hoping For: We simply want to see Bader play. His addition to the roster before last season came as somewhat of a surprise, and since then there has always been a wondering on our part of what exactly this young man can do. Could he evolve his game and body to the point that one day he reminds us all of Erik Kangas? Or does he play garbage minutes and support the team from the bench for most of his career? Quite simply, we do not know. Coach Kampe and his staff probably have a firm idea of where they see Bader helping out this season as they've been working with him for a year, but for fans, 2010-11 will be our first chance to see what he's all about.

Ryan Bass
Best Case Scenario: Given chance to play based on early workouts and high expectations (not unlike Eackles' freshman season). Shows off athleticism and defensive skill from the get-go, earning 6-7 minutes per game off the bench. Logjam at guard prevents him from playing late in games but manages to make game-changing play when called upon while others in foul trouble. Everyone quickly realizes Bass is the point guard of the future. Fans get stoked about an uber-athletic backcourt featuring Bass and Eackles.

Ryan Bass has ups. (Screencap from Oakland Press video)

Worst Case Scenario: Combination of Wright, Hamilton, and Eackles makes it difficult for Bass to get onto the floor. Bader embraces his "Best Case Scenario," all but putting an end to any hopes Bass has of playing regularly. Still impresses when he gets a chance to play, but it just isn't enough time to prove what he can do. Still considered point guard of future, but fans are a little more uneasy about that proposition than if he were to have played more.

What We're Hoping For: Bass really impressed folks with some of his dunks at Grizz Madness. There is a kid playing for Ohio University this year by the name of D.J. Cooper who is a 5'11" sophomore guard with speed, athleticism, and tenacious defensive ability. He was also his conference's freshman of the year last season (and a guy Oakland will play against in a month). While Bass might not get the kind of minutes Cooper did in his freshman year, we're really hoping he is a similar player given some of the things they have in common. If he can come in and give the team quality minutes while showing flashes of greatness, we think fans will be very pleased.

Corey Petros
Best Case Scenario: Has a freshman season much like Drew Valentine's: lots of potential shown just not many chances to play because of the strength of those in front of him in the line-up. Used sparingly off the bench throughout the season and serviceable when given opportunity. Struggles mightily during first part of schedule, easily pushed around. Much better off against Summit League competition. Fans excited about possibilities for second season where he'll have endless opportunities with graduation of Benson and Hudson.

Worst Case Scenario: Has a freshmen season much like Jay Thames: one to two minutes per game every three games or so. Severely limited time makes it difficult to project his future capabilities. Uses lack of PT as motivation to get better for second season where he'll surely have a greater role.

What We're Hoping For: We can't wait to see this guy play a little bit more. He seems like a quality candidate to come in and do some of the little things that Will Hudson has been known for. It'd be nice to see enough of Petros this year to feel confident that he'll fill that void left when Hudson graduates at season's end.

Kyle Sikora
Best Case Scenario: Slight chance he doesn't redshirt, but it probably comes to this due to the fact he is still learning the game. He embraces the decision. Puts on weight and competes as hard as possible during practices. Learns a lot about the game of basketball from working with/against Benson, Hudson, and Ilija in practices. Actively supports teammates during games from the bench. Remains positive about his future with Oakland. Likes winter.

Worst Case Scenario: Frustrated over redshirt decision. Kampe tells him, "Two words: Keith Benson." Realizes it's best decision and works hard to get better for 2011-12 where his role will expand greatly. Doesn't like winter much but his new Northern friends introduce him to a fun-time activity called sledding.

What We're Hoping For: When you look back on the transformation of Keith Benson's body, it makes you really appreciate the fact he had a redshirt year. We think Sikora is likely destined for the same in his freshman season. However, we're not insiders, so who knows how this will all play out. If he does redshirt, let's hope Sikora can add some bulk to his frame and simply learn more about being a big man in The Summit League.

Jordan Howenstine (sophomore) and Joey Asbury (freshman) are the new walk-ons for this season. In lieu of a fleshed out post on each, we just wish these guys a productive season helping the team in practice and from the sidelines. Judging solely by Kampe's handling of walk-ons over the past four years or so, our anticipation is that playing time will be limited for these fellas, but they're still a part of a Division I program. Enjoy the ride.

Transfer Sitting Out The Year:
Laval Lucas-Perry will sit this year out as a transfer from the University of Michigan. Lucas-Perry will have one year of eligibility as a Golden Grizzly. We hope he can use this year to get comfortable with Coach Kampe's style and improve his shooting touch even more. Who knows how he will be used in 2011-12, but one would anticipate at the very least that he'll be given the green light to shoot from downtown. Players often like to say that they go to the gym to "get their shots up," but we can only hope LLP "gets his shots in" during his year off.

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