The Byrd Cage

Adult Steve Reflects

In Game Posts on March 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Last night fellow Cager, Kyle Williams and I had optimistic conversation as we sobbed through Belmont giving away the last 2:29 seconds of last night’s NIT Quarterfinal to Clemson. It was painful to watch Drew Windler, who looked so promising at the beginning of this season, double-dribble his last possession in division-1 basketball.

J.J. looked exhausted throughout the NIT tournament and Blake’s body was beginning to look like John McClain’s at the end of Diehard. After three years of  NCAA tournaments and a senior season of trying to rise to the level of our privileged culture of winning (without the leadership and talent pool of shooters like Ian Clark, Kerron Johnson, or Drew Hanlen or true big men like Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders) it was obvious our veterans had nothing left to give. This team didn’t underachieve, they were flat bankrupt. Come tournament time, that grit that won them games on the road against MTSU and UNC, and had them going to war in a violent VCU game, was gone. By the time the clock struck 0:00 in Clemson, it was obvious JJ and Blake had given all they were going to give.

But if you could imagine the end of the Clemson game like the final battle in the Two Towers, Rick Byrd (Gandalf in this metaphor, if your keeping score at home) is standing on top of the hill with reinforcements ready to save the day and get us back to what we do best: hang banners in the CEC {Note: we are now accepting photo-shopped Rick Byrd/Gandalf submissions}.

What we have to look forward to next fall:

Craig Bradshaw: aced the eye test last night. Did you see his numbers? 21 points, 9 boards, 5 assists and played all but one minute. He is just a sophomore, but he is this team’s white knight of a leader. His poise and character were most on display when he threw the ball to (did I mention tired) JJ and he muffed it out of bounds with 3 minutes left… Craig was all smiles and pats on the back, ready to get back in there and win one for the gipper. This is his team next year.

Reece Chamberlin: Did anybody else hear Jimmy Dykes call Reece… and I paraphrase, ‘unexpectedly athletic?’ Reece is a gamer, a scrapper, and actually a damn good ball handler. Let’s look at the numbers: Compared to Kerron Johnson and Alex Renfroe, Reece is right on par. This year, Reece already averaged more assists per game, has a higher assist to turnover ratio, and has a lower turnover percentage than both Renfroe and Kerron in their senior seasons. He’s also a comparable shooter and though you may hate it, draws a game changing charge better than anyone in both college basketball and European futbol.

Evan Bradds: Coming off the bench this year as a true freshman, he boasts the sixth best FG percentage in the country at 65%. At just 200 pounds, I expect him to put on 20 more pounds this off-season, as Blake Jenkins did between his sophomore and junior year, thus grabbing more boards. He’s currently sitting at 7 rebounds per 40 minutes, which is respectable but there is room for improvement.

Bold Prediction:

Nick Smith will be a big contributor next year. In games where he played more than ten minutes (14 games) he shot 55% (17/31) from behind the arc and perfect from the charity stripe (9/9). His Achilles heal (like Evan’s) could be foul trouble – he averaged 7 fouls per 40 minutes this year.

Redshirts who will be on the court next year:

Austin Luke: Was one of the best high school point guards in the state of Texas.

Burton Sampson: Averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds a game in high school (same school Blake went to). Oh yeah, and Rick said this dude is the best walk-on in program history.

Tyler Hadden: At 6’10” we may finally have a big man.

Josh Lester: 6’5” / 220 out of high school? This guy has athlete written all over him.

UPDATED: We forgot about University of Virgina (in the sweet 16 this year…) transfer Taylor Barnette – who supposedly is a lights out shooter who came in search of bigger roll…

Chin Up Bruin fans, the best could be yet to come…

– Adult Steve (@stevenelefebvre)

 

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  1. Bradshaw did indeed pass the eye test. He got past his defender at will and created numerous opportunities and open looks for teammates. IMO he was the best player on the floor. Much respect to him and Bruins from this Racer fan. See you guys in Murray next year.

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