THOMAS TEAM OUTLOOK SEASON 56
Team Offense: Flex
Team Defense: 2-3 Zone
Likely Starting Lineup, (Season 55 Stats)
PG: Jess Youngblood, So (28 GS, 1.1 pt, 2.0 ast)
SG: Cory Bjorklund, Sr (3 GS, 9.2 pt, 2.0 ast, 44 FG3%)
SF: Robert Holt, Jr (1 GS, 2.1 pt, 2.6 reb)
PF: Richard Kimble, Jr (0 GS, 2.0 pt, 5.0 reb, 1.5 blk)
C: Al Brogden, Sr (32 GS, 5.9 pt, 6.3 reb, 1.3 blk, 52 FG%)
1st guard off the bench: Anthony Lockwood, So (0 GS, 1.1 pt)
1st post off the bench: Larry Oakes, So (0 GS, 2.3 pt, 3.0 reb, 58 FG%)
Thomas is talented enough to win most divisions in the Allen D3 world. In the North Atlantic, the Terriers are likely to struggle against the elite. It has been a long time since Thomas did not have a bye going into the conference tournament, but a 3rd place finish seems to be most likely in the North Atlantic South and Thomas will have an even more challenging path to winning what has been billed as "the tournament more difficult to win than the National Tournament". A quick glance at the point totals of the top 7 shows just why it is likely that Thomas is going to be knocked off its perch at the top of the South standings. Thomas is not returning any scorers from the season 55 team. Cory Bjorklund is the closest thing to a true scorer on the roster but the senior guard struggles to consistently hit his shot having only a 75 perimeter rating. After Bjorklund, the options are even less appealing. The Terriers should still win a good number of games in season 56 and be competitive in most of their losses. The team should have a defense that is one of the better ones among D3 teams in stopping scoring. Giving up rebounds is always a risk with Thomas' zone defense, but there is enough rebounding in the post that Thomas should be able to stop teams from getting too many second chances. With the offense unable to score and the defense likely good enough to prevent opponents from scoring, the difference in season 56 is likely to be turnovers. When that is the case, advantage goes to Thomas' opponents. Thomas' zone defense is one of the worst at forcing turnovers in D3; meanwhile, the relatively inexperienced backcourt of Thomas is likley to turn the ball over. The guards are not only unfamiliar with the flex offense, but they also lack the ball handling and passing skills necessary to avoid handing the ball over to the opponent.
Thomas has an extremely difficult non-conference schedule. 5-5 would be a solid result heading into conference play. Once conference play begins, expect a battle with UMPI for 2nd place in the NAC South. A 9-7 or 10-6 conference record looks most likely so unless Thomas really stubs its toe in the non-conference slate, the Terriers should be expecting a mid-level seed for the national tourney.
Jess Youngblood is the starting point guard for season 56. He probably hasn't earned the job but the coaching staff has noted he tends to pout when he isn't on the court. With a work ethic of 37, the team can't afford for him to be even less motivated than he currently is. Youngblood isn't the best point guard on the team, but he's close enough that with a good season of development, he will likely be the best point guard by season's end. Youngblood still shows high potential for growth in athleticism, perimeter shooting, ball handling, and passing. The high potential in perimeter gives hope than one day he may become a scorer, but it is unlikely to occur in season 56. Youngblood just averaged 1.1 points per game as a starter last season and the 39% shooting from the field did not argue for more touches. With the 56 ball handling rating and 67 passing rating, Youngblood is going to be asked to set up his teammates. Were it not for the struggles the rest of the roster also has in scoring, he'd like lead the North Atlantic in assists. On the defensive side Youngblood should be ok. His speed and defense have average growth left so he should finish the season a bit better than he is at the beginning.
Cory Bjorklund returns to the starting lineup after spending the junior year coming off the bench. He's not qualified to be a leading scorer, but he's going to be asked to do it for this Thomas team. If he can replicate his success from last season, he just might be able to do it. Bjorklund hit 44% from three point range last season. That number seems to be a bit of a fluke, however. His ratings don't suggest that he is that type of shooter. He might stretch the defense a bit but he's much more likely to put up a senior season where his shooting percentage from deep is closer to his sophomore mark of 38%. This is especially true since Bjorklund is maxed out as a player. On a good team, Bjorlkund doesn't start, but Thomas won't be a good team in season 56. On a good team, Bjorklund would be a very good sixth man - he's plays very good defense and while he isn't a terrific shooter, he'd be a nice option off the bench. On Thomas, he's going to be expected to be the leading scorer and that probably is asking for a bit too much.
Anthony Lockwood is 1st guard off the bench and should do a decent job of preventing damage while the starters catch their breath. He's nothing special as a sophomore but should be an asset against most teams on the defensive end -- the 60 speed rating is probably too slow against elite teams. He does have moderate room to improve his athleticism, speed, and defense so as the season progresses he'll be better equiped to handle the guards of Mount Ida, Castleton State, and Lasell. On the offensive side, he's still filled with potential. Right now, he needs work in perimeter, ball handling, and passing; fortunately each of these three still have high potential. Lockwood is hamstrung with a 32 work ethic. While those three categories are high potential (as is stamina), it is probably fair to question if he will reach his potential in any.
Bruce Sawyer backs up both spots. As a junior he seems like a likely waste of a signing. He was signed with high potential aspirations but now only has average potential across the board. That doesn't leave him with much. He's pretty good on the defensive side. On the offensive side, he's a terrible scorer and only a mediocre, at best, distributor. Sawyer is a junior that finds himself behind two sophomores on the depth chart. He probably would have been wise to consider transferring this past offseason.
Michael Bosch is the last guard in the rotation. With four ahead of him, he's unlikely to see minutes in non-blowout situations.
Robert Holt steps into the starting lineup; whether or not he's ready is up for debate. He probably is, despite being good at nothing. He might not be good at anything, but he's adequate at everything and that's probably good enough. With every skill category falling between 43 and 52, he hopes to be the quintessential "glue guy" for Thomas. Holt still does have the room to get better. Only his perimeter shooting is still high potential -- and Thomas will be wishing at night that Holt just maybe can turn into a scoring threat -- but everything else still has moderate room for improvement, save his athleticism and low post play.
Mauricio Yazzie literally came out of nowhere to be Holt's caddy. The senior transfer was not on Thomas' radar but when he became available, he was signed to fill a backup position that otherwise had nobody qualified. Yazzie will not be anything special, especially not knowing either the offense or defense, but should be a good D3 backup.
Jeffrey Taylor will be taking the redshirt season he should have as a freshman if not for a massive mistake made during recruiting. Taylor is currently nothing special but it looks like he could turn himself into a player and the redshirt season should help ensure that he has some impact as an upperclassmen. As he spends the year in practice working on his game, he won't be able to improve his perimeter shooting or passing. And his rebounding and low post only show average room for growth. But he has big room to improve in athleticism, speed, defense, and ball handling. That should end up being a pretty nifty small forward to step into Holt's shoes once he leaves campus.
Al Brogden is a perfectly cromulent post player for Thomas. He's an excellent rebounder and ok at just about everything else. He's a maxed out senior, so winning awards looks to be a long shot. For this Thomas team, however, there is a slim chance he might walk away with some hardware. The low post rating of 60 is anything but intimidating to opposition coaches but on Thomas that makes Brodgen the best option to score in the paint. Along with Cory Bjorklund, just how good Thomas will be this season is highly dependent on how efficient a scorer Brogden is.
Richard Kimble jumps into the starting lineup and is a poor-man's Al Brodgen. Since Al Brodgen is probably not good enough, that doesn't bode well for Kimble. Unlike Brogden, Kimble has a tiny bit of growth left in him as a player and he might end up matching Brogen's ratings. Kimble's speed, rebounding, defense, and low post all have moderate development still possible. When maxed out, he's going to come close to being a carbon copy of Brogden. Since he's not there just yet, he's going to be even more challenged when facing the talented bigs in the NAC.
On talent alone, Larry Oaks is actually close to jumping into the starting lineup. Kimble's IQ advantage will give him the starting nod, at least for the beginning of the season. Oakes is already maxed out in speed and low post but has high potential in defense to accompany his average potential in athleticism, rebounding, and shot blocking. Oaks should be an excellent defensive stopper off the bench but the low post rating that is maxed out at 52 is not going to be good enough to make him an option on the offensive end.
As the 4th post player on the depth chart, Jimmy Frederick should receive a good number of minutes as a freshman. He's nowhere close to being ready to touch the ball on offense; on the defensive side he should be ok, better than ok when ignoring the IQ challenges that are inherent with freshmen.