Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best Case/Worst Case And Hopes: Sophomore 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 we take a look at those entering their sophomore year of eligibility.

Ledrick Eackles
Best Case Scenario: His play at the end of the season and in the NCAA Tournament make him the first option off the bench in 2010-11. Ends up playing both positions in the backcourt and, despite not starting, averages roughly the same amount of minutes as Larry Wright and becomes an emotional leader for the Golden Grizzlies. Becomes OU's third scoring option, averaging 12 points along with 4 boards, 3 assists, and about 1.5 steals per game. Also has career highs in all of those categories throughout the season, including one or two 25+ point games. Earns 6th Man of the Year honors and Summit League Honorable Mention at season's end. Defense continues to awe, with best games coming against power-conference opponents. At least one OU win attributed to his last-minute heroics. Ends season as a favorite to start in the backcourt with Hamilton and to be an all-conference player in 2011-12.

Worst Case Scenario: Continues to provide a spark off the bench with his defense and playmaking ability in transition. Doesn't find much consistency in the half-court offense, and struggles to figure out his role (run the offense or make his own plays) when on the court with Wright or Hamilton. The solid play of Bader and Bass clogs the backcourt a bit, so Ledrick's playing time is cut back as a result. A few big games scattered amongst several more clunkers make for a lackluster individual season. But fans quickly realize he's still got two years left.

What We're Hoping For: We're pretty big on Eackles here at the Gameplan, which probably helped paint our glowing "Best Case Scenario" for him. We feel he could be an all-league player very quickly but realize he's still only a sophomore. This season, we hope Ledrick finds some consistency so he's not on the bench for large chunks of the season. Oakland is clearly better when he's on the court, and we hope he can prove why that is all season long.

Drew Valentine
Best Case Scenario: The departure of Derick Nelson opens up space at the 3, giving Valentine the opportunity to play more than during his freshman campaign. Cushingberry starts games at Valentine's position, but he quickly becomes the first option off the bench at forward. He displays the same motor that won over fans last season, grabbing offensive rebounds and making an impact with hussle plays. Continues to show progression with his shooting and defensive ability. Looks a bit frazzled against upper-echelon teams, but shines in conference play where he is a more natural fit, gaining confidence in driving to the basket and getting to the line. An Oakland star-in-the-making is born.

Worst Case Scenario: Drew Maynard comes back from suspension and has a brilliant season, overcoming past defensive shortcomings. He and Cushingberry play Nelson-like minutes; consequently, Valentine only comes in for about 6-8 minutes per game. Not a scoring option when in the game, so must showcase his talent through rebounding and hussle. Continues to earn respect of coaches and fans. Ends season as valued member of team but still seeking chance to do more.

What We're Hoping For: Can we please have a breakout season from Valentine? We need someone to emerge at the forward position to help lock down opposing wings, grab rebounds, and play with consistency. The opportunity seems like it will be there for Valentine. We hope he capitalizes on it.

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