I must admit something: I had to re-open the file to see where I slotted The Tribe. There was so much movement this summer in where teams were predicted I lost track of most of them. However I found them, down at 11th.
Blue Ribbon Open
LAST SEASON: 10-20 (.333)
CONFERENCE RECORD: 5-13 (t-10th)
STARTERS RETURNING: 4
HOMECOURT: William & Mary Hall (8,600)
COACH: Tony Shaver (North Carolina ‘76)
RECORD AT SCHOOL: 65-113 (6 years)
CAREER RECORD: 423-234 (24 years)
ASSISTANTS: Ben Wilkins, Jamion Christian, Jonathan Holmes
TEAM WINS (LAST 5 YRS.): 8-8-15-17-10
RPI (LAST 5 YRS.): 286-263-196-159-238
2008-09 FINISH: Lost in CAA First Round
Key for W&M: They’ve got to make things easy on themselves. Set plays can be destructed in this conference, and most times a few key possessions late in games decides the fate. William & Mary has got to get some easy scores, some open shots. It doesn’t have to be in transition, either. If they can create a little on offense and get easier shots, the rest of the game becomes easier for them.
Last season the Tribe struggled to shoot straight—11th in the conference in three point percentage and ninth overall in total field goal percentage and free throw percentage—and were 11th in turnover margin. From Christmas to the end of the season, the Tribe scored 51 or fewer points nine times and more than 70 points only twice. That isn’t easy.
Guy You Think Is Important, and He Is: David Schneider. He scores, rebounds, and takes care of the basketball (78 assists and 43 turnovers). He is the kind of player the opposition hates but would love to have on their own team. The issue is finishing. Schneider hit just 129-379 from the field (34%) and just 29% from the arc (73-248). He is the heart and soul of this team but needs to shoot it much better.
Guy Who Is Actually More Important: Kendrix Brown. Historically the Tribe is a team that relies on precision. The 6-3 Brown is big, aggressive, and can rebound—a different kind of player who can give W&M a different kind of attack.
Brown can create, and theoretically open up space for Danny Sumner. Brown also learned how to become a true point guard over the course of his freshman year, which led to his singular impressive stat: a 63-44 assist to turnover ratio as a freshman on a bad shooting team. Get to know this guy.
Guy Who Could Play On My Team: Quinn McDowell. So you know, McDowell was my choice for freshman of the year last season, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. McDowell finished in the top five among freshmen in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage.
Plus, “rugged” isn’t an apt descriptor and neither is big, fast, or athletic. In fact, he’s none of those, so his 29 minutes per game, 133 rebounds, and 50% marksmanship from the field (99-198) becomes very impressive for a first year player.
Guy I’m Not Sold On: Danny Sumner. Seems odd point out such a good player, but Sumner was underwhelming in what was supposed to be his breakout season. The 6-8 senior has the athletic ability to score inside and a smooth midrange game; however, for a player this big and this rangy Sumner shoots a ton of threes (54-167, 32%).
He also only shot 93 free throws last year, low for a big man who handles the ball so much. Sumner could be that guy for William & Mary, if he could be more aggressive. I feel like we said the same thing last year.
Coach Seems To Like: Kendrix Brown. See above, both most important player and Shaver’s career wins total. There you go. Also of note: John Mark Ludwick, a 6-7 supershooter who transferred from UTSA.
Games I Will Not Miss: at UConn (11/13). Any CAA team playing that bunch gets my juices flowing, and honestly I don’t know if there is more justice in college basketball than to have the Tribe whip them. Also, Northeastern travels to the Burg on 2/13. The Huskies have never won there and could be in a position for a regular season championship.
Scheduling side note: the ADs at W&M and Richmond have got to get together and pull off the hoops/football double-dip on a November Saturday. Bonanza!