The Owls season hasn’t turned out how anybody at Kennesaw State has wanted it to. They haven’t been good, okay I admit it, they’ve stunk at times! I’ve heard a lot from other fans this year about what needs to be done.
Impatient members of the Owl nation have been calling for the head of Head Coach Lewis Preston, and along with that I always hear “How are they so bad when they have Markeith Cummings! He averages 20 points per game and is bigger and stronger than the other team!” My answer to this is simple: One player doesn’t make the team, and scoring isn’t everything (as I touched on last week).
I don’t count last year’s win-less conference slate against Coach Preston; after all, he inherited malcontents, academic issues, lost scholarships, lost practice time and a handful of players with no desire. The Owls are still in the detoxification stage of the Tony Ingle regime, and in regards to academics they are not out of the hot water that Ingle put the team in.
I believe Coach Preston and Assistant Coach Jimmy Lallathin are excellent coaches, and know their X’s and O’s. They have a vision of how they want things to get done, but the reality of the roster is clashing with their vision.
In my opinion the coaches have been guilty of overlooking the immediate need of veteran talent on this team. They could have decided to bring in one or two experienced pieces from the junior college ranks, but that may have only tacked on a handful of wins. Currently redshirting for the Owls are three very athletic big men who are excellent defensively. Unfortunately, that counts as three scholarships towards this season’s total of 13, which gives the coaches fewer option and little depth. I do think the current freshmen have shown promise, and it’s beneficial that they are getting a real chance to play and develop now, instead of learning on the job when the reinforcements come in next year. Regardless of whoever they may have brought in for the 2012-13 team, the Owls would still have had too many flaws to legitimately compete for the A-Sun crown.
There are definite talent issues (or lack of) on this team, along with questionable depth, but I’m confident that the real killer this season for the Owls is youth. Too many times is KSU making a careless pass and then committing a foolish foul. Too often is somebody over-dribbling and having the ball stolen. Too often is this team getting abused on defense, because they can’t contain their man. These issues are more about maturity and experience than coaching.
We often don’t think of players by a certain age, we assign a year (freshman, sophomore etc) to them and base our expectations off of that. While that is good and fair, it ignores the age range that each class consists of. Due to a multitude of reasons, students start school at different ages, some are held/kept back and some may go to prep school. All freshmen are not created equally.
KSU’s Yonel Brown, Myles Hamilton and Nigel Pruitt are all on the young side for first year college students. Brown turns 19 in April, Hamilton in July and Pruitt in October. Pruitt is possibly one of the ten youngest NCAA Division I basketball players this season. Hamilton is likely one of the 60 or 70 youngest. Delbert Love is possibly the youngest sophomore in the conference as well. Last season his develop was aided by Spencer Dixon, and now the student has become the teacher in just one season’s time.
A-SUN freshmen and players born in 1993 (minimum 15 games to qualify for “MPG”. Could not find ages for LU and Stet)
Now that we’ve examined the underclassmen, let’s take a look at the age and experience for the rest of the league. Many teams have the luxury to redshirt their freshmen or play them sparingly, but the Owls are afforded neither advantage due to the redshirting of three transfers.
Here are the approximate demographics for each team in the Atlantic Sun (as of February 2013). I’m using each team’s top seven players in minutes per game, and throwing in an extra player if there is an eight man who averages 15 minutes or more. Players are assigned a value of 1 for each year of COLLEGE experience, and half of one year for each redshirt or transfer season. An experience level of 4.0 would mean every player on that team’s top 7/8 has an average of 4 full years of college.
The Owls are young and lack depth. Their top 7 players have an average age of 20.19 years and an average experience of 2.36 years which are heavily skewed by Markeith Cummings. Their top five players average over 30 minutes per game, the only team in the conference to hit that mark.
Average age: 20.19 years (9th oldest)
Average experience: 2.36 years (9th most)
Top 7 MPG: 26.57
Top 5 MPG: 30.32
Mercer is a veteran team that plays almost all of its players. They don’t need any huge contributions from freshmen to be successful. Their average experience of 3.14 means lots of upper class production.
Average age: 21.6 years (4th oldest)
Average experience: 3.14 years (3rd most)
Top 7 MPG: 23.02
Top 5 MPG: 26.86
|T. Smith||Sr. (4)||21||10||29.5|
Injuries and arrests have ravaged ETSU, but they are doing a decent job of getting by. They don’t have any teenagers as heavy contributors. The average age is skewed by Hunter Harris, who is an outlier.
Average age: 21.988 years (2nd oldest)
Average experience: 2.43 years (8th most)
Top 7 MPG: 27.40
Top 5 MPG: 29.44
Florida Gulf Coast
FGCU is wise beyonds its years. Almost three years of experience and barely 21 years of age as an average. This squad will only get stronger next year.
Average age: 21.2 years (7th oldest)
Average experience: 2.88 years (4th most)
Top 8 MPG: 23.18
Top 5 MPG: 27.40
Jacksonville is the second youngest team to KSU but have six key contributors who are out of their teenage years. Head Coach Cliff Warren does good job of distributing the minutes to his entire roster.
Average age: 20.78 (8th oldest)
Average experience: 2.62 (6th most)
Top 8 MPG: 23.13
Top 5 MPG: 25.4
|G Powell||Sr. (4)||22||06||25.8|
|R Powell||Sr. (4)||21||11||27.1|
UNF is the 6th youngest team, but the second most experienced with 3.43 years. Jerron Granberry’s presence on this chart would raise both the average age and experience level (unfortunately he doesn’t qualify).
Average age: 21.42 years (6th oldest)
Average experience: 3.43 years (2nd most)
Top 7 MPG: 24.42
Top 5 MPG: 27.18
NKU has a quartet of veteran players on the front end of the roster who are carrying the freshmen that are scrambling to step up.
Average age: 21.75 years (3rd oldest)
Average experience: 2.57 years (7th most)
Top 7 MPG: 24.42
Top 5 MPG: 27.88
Upstate doesn’t have any key players who are seniors. They will be one of the most experienced teams in the conference next year.
Average age: 21.43 years (5th oldest)
Average experience: 2.63 years (5th most)
Top 8 MPG: 23.55
Top 5 MPG: 26.88
Surprised by Stetson’s winning record? Five redshirt players who are all upper classmen, along with two seniors, are the reasons for their success. It looks like they are getting by on experienced.
Average age: 22.36 years (1)
Average experience: 3.79 years (1)
Top 7 MPG: 25.47
Top 5 MPG: 28.12
|A. Pegg||R-Sr. (4.5)||23||05||27.8|
Average age: Unknown. (Three listed are 21.28)
Average experience: 2.28 years (10th most)
Top 7 MPG: 26.1
Top 5 MPG: 28.64
|Mal. Smith||So. (2)||?||?||27.1|
|Mar. Smith||So. (2)||?||?||33.0|
That concludes the Atlantic Sun. I’ll leave you with one more chart before I sign off!
Here is what next year’s team may look like in January of 2014 (ages are calculated accordingly). The top six are 20 or older, compared to only three players this season.
Average age: 21.01 years
Average experience: 2.75 years