THOMAS TEAM OUTLOOK SEASON 54
Team Offense: Flex
Team Defense: 2-3 Zone
Likely Starting Lineup, (Season 53 Stats)
PG: John Bradley, Sr (18 GS, 16.3 pt, 3.4 ast, 1.0 stl)
SG: Cory Bjorklund, So (15 GS, 3.1 pt, 0 FG3A)
SF: Lee Brown, Jr (15 GS, 10.1 pt, 2.9 reb, 41 FG3%)
PF: Eric Kerney, Sr (33 GS, 3.9 pt, 6.7 reb, 1.3 blk)
C: Bryan Vaden, Jr (0 GS, 6.6 pt, 7.9 reb, 1.8 blk)
1st guard off the bench: Dennis Myers, Jr (2 GS, 2.7 pt)
1st post off the bench: Clinton Schweiger, Sr (0 GS, 4.8 pt, 4.5 reb, 1.1 blk)
The Season 51 recruiting class of Bradley, Kerney, and Brown is one of best in Thomas history and with two of the three preparing to graduate, season 54 will be Thomas' best chance to make the Final Four in the next few seasons. The class of 51 is complimented by a very strong group of post players. Just how good Thomas fairs in North Atlantic play and how deep a postseason run the Terriers can make will likely be dependent on how well two third year guards (Bjorklund & Myers) can step up their games after showing little in their first two seasons.
Defense is expected to be Thomas' strength. Last season Thomas had one of the better defenses in the North Atlantic and with 9 returning from that team it should continue to be good; however, the three that graduated averaged a 70 rating in athleticism and a 75 rating in defense so Thomas will be unlikely to match last season's success.
On the offensive end, Thomas may struggle. Several on scholarship at Thomas were signed for their rebounding and defense with scoring being a secondary factor. To the extent that Thomas can shoot from the perimeter will likely determine if the Terriers have an effective offense. Thomas only returns one player that shot three pointers last season and while some of the guards are developing perimeter skills, those skills are not likely to be developed (if at all) until the end of the season. Thomas is also really going to be hurt by a lack of ball handling and passing skills that will lead to too many turnovers and also hurt in setting up the few scorers on the roster.
The NAC South is young so Thomas should not have any problems winning the division. Thomas will also have a leg up on winning the conference championship due to the teams in the North beating up on each other in home-and-home play.
John Bradley will be the glue that keeps the Thomas together. Bradley is the only player on the roster that has real strengths in ball handling and passing. He can't shoot but he's got a sneaky low post game that combined with his exceptional speed makes him a really good scoring guard. Bradley's low post still has room for growth (~15 points) and still has some room for defensive improvement. Every thing else is pretty close to being maxed out.
Cory Bjorklund doesn't deserve to be starting but he'll be the starting shooting guard ... for at least season 54. Part of this is that he should be an ok threat from outside as the season progresses. He's no longer high potential in perimeter shooting but his 63 perimeter rating will finish around 80 -- a real disappointment since he was signed to be a long distance gunner. But the reason why he's starting is so that he never plays at the point. His 49 ball handling is poor and his 28 passing rating is by far the worst for any Thomas starter since I've been coaching. The ball handling can get a bit better and thankfully the passing rating is high potential still. Bjorklund is maxed out on defense but he can still get a bit better on that end due to the average potential in speed and athleticism. Bjorklund is starting this season but might get lapped sooner rather than latter by the guys on the bench.
Dennis Myers will be first off the bench and while there is nothing special about him, he should be starting over Bjorklund. However, Myers (somewhat) ability to play the point has him serving in a backup roll instead. Depending on how players develop this season, Myers might move into the starting lineup. He's the best shooting guard on the roster now and his perimeter rating is still high potential. He also has some room to improve his ball handling and passing. Speed, athleticism, and defense are maxed out but all three are at ok levels.
Bruce Sawyer will be expected to play a lot as a true freshman. While he doesn't have much potental, he is much better to take the court than a number of D3 freshman will be.
Lee Brown is no longer high potential in anything but the 600 rated player still has a decent amount of growth in him. Brown's athleticism is finally starting to max out, joining the shot blocking and perimeter shooting ratings that maxed out in high school. Everything else can still grow a decent amount. That does mean his rebounding will be a bit subpar as will his low post game but he looks to be an outstanding defender and pretty good with ball in hands for a small forward. His guard skills may come in quite handy since the actual guards for Thomas don't have many at season's beginning.
Robert Holt is not yet ready to see the court as a redshirt freshman but will be forced into the roll of Brown's caddy. He should be an ok player when he's developed but right now he's a long way from that. Athleticism is maxed but nothing else is and many of his skill categories still have room for high growth: speed, shot blocking, perimeter, ball handling, passing, stamina. Even by season's end, Holt probably still is not going to be ready to play serious minutes. He's an ok project, but still a project at this point in his career.
Eric Kerney won't come close to filling his potential but he's still a very good player. I got greedy with Kerney and tried to max him out and with such a low starting work ethic (30) that just wasn't going to happen. I spent a season and a half trying to develop his high potential perimeter and passing and those were minutes that should have gone elsewhere. Kerney still has 18 points of growth in the low post but since he only improved 12 last season and the last points are hardest to get, he's probably going to finish with a 60 low post rating instead of 70. As it is, Kerney will be a good defensive player but he won't be any threat on the offensive end. As good as Kerney is on the defensive side, he still has room for growth in his rebounding, defense, shot blocking, and stamina. If I had handled his first 1 1/2 seasons better, he'd really have a chance to be something special this season.
Bryan Vaden makes a return to the starting lineup. He didn't deserve to start as a freshman but it was promised to him and he did deserve to start last season although Kerney got the nod to improve his work ethic. Coming off the bench, Vaden led the team in rebounds per game and blocks per game. He's shot 51% from the field his first two seasons so he's going to be counted on to provide the scoring since Kerney lacks that talent. Vaden is already a finished product with his high work ethic. Only his defense and passing have some room for growth. Everything else is just about maxed out. With the 98 rebound rating, he should be among the NAC leaders and the 73 athleticism and 82 shotblocking should also have him close to the top of that leaderboard as well.
Clinton Schweiger looks set to hold a dubious mark in the Thomas record books. Unless injury strikes, he will be the first Thomas player to practice for five seasons and never start a game. Most Thomas recruits start by the time they are seniors, but Schweiger won't be able to do that even with the extra year of practice. Part of that is because he's not a great player but it also is because Kerney and Vaden are two of the better recruits Thomas has landed in the post. As it is, Schweiger should be one of the better 6th men in the NAC and maybe in D3 as a whole. Kind of surprising that he still has some room for growth in his rebounding and ball handling but everything else is maxed out. With his 81 low post rating, he'll be a scoring threat off the bench and the 80 rebounding, 60 defense, 60 shot blocking should be plenty good on the defensive end.
Al Brogden barely played as a freshman, except for one game where he accidentally started. When he did play, it was simply for cover and often out of position at small foward. In season 54, he will be the 4th big in the rotation. For a true sophomore, Brodgen does not have much potential left. His athleticism is still high potential but that's it for big growth. His shot blocking and low post are already maxed in the upper 50's limiting both his offense and defense. Brodgen sort of looks like the player he is .... a recruit that was signed late in recruiting a full day late due to the Thanksgiving holiday.