Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best Case/Worst Case And Hopes: Junior 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 wenever 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. Next is a look at Oakland's junior athletes:

Blake Cushingberry
Best Case Scenario: Inspired by his performance in the Summit League tournament, Kampe puts him in the starting line-up. Embraces new role, finding his shot early on and never loses it. Double-teams on Benson often leave him open to take shots on the perimeter. Also improves ball-handling skills, making it easier for him to work opponents one-on-one. Defense is solid throughout the year. At least one late comeback win for OU is due to a monster three-pointer from Cushingberry.

Worst Case Scenario: Fails to find a shooting groove; mostly disappoints when key threes are needed. Great on defense when at a comfortable position, locking down smaller guards in the half-court offense. Ends season with typical averages and limited impact.

What We're Hoping For: We would love to see Cushingberry knock down meaningful baskets all year. He has been inconsistent in the past, yet now as a junior and probable starter, we feel the time has come for him to really step up his game.

Reggie Hamilton
Best Case Scenario: Wins "Summit League Newcomer of the Year" in everyone's hearts and minds, but a glitch in the system (he played for UMKC) disqualifies him from being eligible. Averages 14 points and 5 assists per game. Lauded for his ability to score at-will, get other players involved, and bring defensive toughness to the backcourt. Establishes himself as a vocal leader for the Golden Grizzlies.

Worst Case Scenario: Never quite finds his fit in the backcourt as a combo guard, struggles between operating as a scorer and leading the offense at times. Shots don't fall. Ends up with a decent PPG average thanks to those games early in the season where he scored 20+ points but leaves fans desirous of more.

What We're Hoping For: After a year of practicing with the team (and against JJ), we know chemistry won't be a problem. So we're hoping that Reggie can come out from the very beginning to be a difference maker for Oakland. Coach Kampe has indicated that Larry Wright will act as facilitator more often than Hamilton which should mean plenty of scoring opportunities for The New Number 23. In addition to the open looks he'll get on the perimeter, we hope that he'll be aggressive in getting to the lane, drawing fouls, and dishing out when necessary. Sky's the limit for Hamilton.

Drew Maynard
Best Case Scenario: Comes back from suspension at some point early in the season. Rusty but still has the athleticism and energy that made him a fan-favorite. Time away from team enables him to stay incredibly focused and help where he can. Does not get much playing time but uses it as motivation to do best he can when on the court. When he does play, shows off that athleticism to get to the basket and draw fouls while knocking down jumpers from beyond the arc. Slowly sees his playing time increase to the point where whatever happened just before Midnight Madness is forgotten (at least by the fans).

Worst Case Scenario: Never makes it back with the team. Fans frown thinking about what could have been for this player.

What We're Hoping For: We think it's good for a fan's health to never get too attached to the idea of a specific player always being around. We've seen good players find themselves suspended or booted from the team before, and while the initial feeling is terrible, Coach Kampe finds a way to make things work out.

Ilija Milutinovic
Best Case Scenario: At the first game of season, fans impressed by work he has put into his body. More muscle tone and ability to get up and down the court for longer periods of time. Begins to find his niche in the offensive system, earning minutes when Benson or Hudson in foul trouble/resting. Shows off ability to work hard, especially in the paint. Doesn't hit his stride until the conference season starts where he sets new personal highs in minutes played, points, rebounds, blocks, and all the individual statistical categories. Fans enthused by his play, earning him fan-favorite status. Play at end of season earns him consideration for major minutes in senior season sans Benson/Hudson.

Worst Case Scenario: Begins season in similar shape as past seasons. Tires easily and pushed around when earning opportunity to play. Emergence of Petros limits Ilija's playing time even when Benson/Hudson in foul trouble. Continues to be a supportive teammate from the bench while only playing in garbage minutes. Hopes he can play more in senior season.

What We're Hoping For: Free Ilija! We realize he has to earn those backup minutes, but we want to see more of Ilija this season. It's hard to believe he is already a junior, which means he has to start making his appearances count. If he can give Oakland some quality minutes off the bench, opposing big men will never be able to take a break when facing the Golden Grizzlies.

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