2008-09 Army Basketball Preview
Life after Jarell Brown for the Black Knights
You could make an argument that the Army Black Knights had the most important player in the Patriot League last season in guard Jarell Brown. Brown averaged almost nineteen points per game, and no other Army player exceeded eight points per contest in 07-08. Now head coach Jim Crews and his staff has to devise ways in which to make up for Brown’s graduation, giving opportunities to guys that didn’t see much of the basketball a season ago. Those who stand to benefit from the increased number of shots should be happy, but are they ready to step up and help replace Brown? That’s the question that hangs over the Black Knights as the season begins.
2007-08 Record: 14-16 (6-8 Patriot; t-5th)
Head coach: Jim Crews (50-121 in six seasons at Army; 342-330 in 24 seasons)
Assistant coaches: Chris Hollender, Jim Platt, Kendrick Saunders
Home Court: Christl Arena
PPG: Josh Miller (8.4)
RPG: Doug Williams (5.3)
APG: Miller (4.0)
FG%: Chris Walker (60.0%)
3PT%: John Moonshower (30.0%)
FT%: Miller (71.4%)
Assist/TO ratio: Miller (1.65)
Figuring out the exact rotation on an annual basis for the Black Knights is a tough chore, but there are a few returnees coming back who should be contributors this season. Junior Josh Miller played more minutes than any Army player not named Jarell Brown last season and stands to be among the team leaders in points and minutes again this year. Miller is a combo guard who is Army’s most reliable ball handler, so he could be the guy running the show on the offensive end of the floor. Two other returnees in the backcourt who will have to take on more of the offensive load are juniors Marcus Nelson and Cleveland Richard. Both played in all thirty games last season, combining for just over ten points per game. With Brown gone, these are the two most likely to absorb those extra shot attempts now available on the perimeter.
Two guys who didn’t play much last season but stand to pick up more playing time this season are junior Tyrell Thompson and sophomore Rickey Royal. Thompson could be a reliable offensive option off the bench, while Royal is a solid defender who will help out on that end of the floor. Jon Sizemore and Nathan Hedgecock are two more players who will look to become part of Coach Crews’ rotation. If you’re looking for a freshman that could find his way onto the court that would most likely be Julian Simmons (Katy, TX). He’s a combo guard who spent last season in Army’s prep school and averaged twenty-four points per game. But it seems to be an annual occurrence that a player no one knows about works his way into the rotation.
There are a number of bodies up front for the Black Knights, led by leading returning rebounder Doug Williams. His play improved later in the season with more playing time, and he should be even better this season. Junior Chris Walker is a player who should contribute up front as well. Walker averaged 3.9 points per game last season in a limited role. Seniors Kenny Brewer and John Moonshower should also be improved this season, given the fact that they both played just about half the season last year. While Brewer is a player you can find inside more often than not, Moonshower has the versatility to play on the perimeter as well. But with a small lineup, both are going to have to chip in on the boards.
Will Schuh and William Van Harp were rarely seen on the floor last year, but their height (Schuh is 6-10, Van Harp 6-9) could make them valuable pieces once they hit Patriot League play. But they’ve got to develop into better players, at the least in the defense and rebounding portions of their game, if they’re to get off the bench. Returnees Curtis Koszuta, Eric Zastoupil and Jeremy Hence are in the same boat, being players who didn’t see much playing time last season looking to crack the rotation. Sophomore Ross Trampler didn’t play at all last season due to an injury, but he’s got the bulk needed to bang inside. Whether or not he plays remains to be seen this season.
There are some questions surrounding this team outside of the most obvious one: how will they make up for the loss of Jarell Miller? The frontcourt lacks depth in regards to proven commodities, and it’s unknown how the backcourt returnees will react to having more scoring responsibility. They’ll play hard, but in a league like the Patriot effort can only get you so far. There is some talent, but the fact that some guys will have to become main options after deferring to Brown all last season could give them trouble early on. This should be a solid defensive team, but the offensive end is where they’ll run into trouble. Look for Army to finish in the bottom half of the Patriot League this season.
Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 59.0 (8th)
PPG allowed: 62.1 (2nd)
FG%: 43.3% (5th)
FG% defense: 41.3% (3rd)
3PT%: 31.3% (8th)
3PT% defense: 34.6% (4th)
FT%: 68.0 (7th)
Rebound margin: -3.2 (8th)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.87 (3rd)