Let me first start off by saying that as the hockey writer, I suck at basketball coverage now. It just comes with the territory. So lower your expectations. Please? OK, so lets get into this thing. . .
My first post on this site came as a "Wait 'Till Next Year" post following the 2010-11 basketball season. I'm not going to try and find it, but it was good work. It was hopeful, long, and detailed. I thought that last year was the year WMU was going to break through in the MAC.
They didn't. A senior filled class under-performed, and the season was shot. Now those seniors are gone. Big man/goofy man/ongoing joke Matt Stainbrook has transfered to Xavier. David Brown is still recovering from an ACL injury. This Bronco team is nowhere close to where they have been in recent years.
But is that a good thing? Maybe. This Bronco team sees EIGHT freshmen join the team this year. That is just one less than everyone else combined. Add in the fact that 3 of those 9 are sophomores, and you have a very young team.
However, this team will not be without some Senior leadership. Both Brandon Pokley and Nate Hutcheson are ready to step up and contribute as grinding players, something that this team should be all about. With big, slower forwards gone, this athletic team should run and gun a lot. The athleticism of Hutcheson, junior forward Shayne Whittington, and the lean hybrid forwards and guards of the lower-classmen will definitely allow that.
Hutcheson was a pre-season All-MAC player, albeit a 4th teamer. Pokley can hit a jumpshot every now and then, and sophomore guards Hayden Hoerdemann and Austin Richie are a good 1-2 combo as a sniper and a "Steve Nash" type respectively.
But what of these freshmen?
A.J. Avery and Darius Paul should hold down the forward positions quite well. Paul has basketball in his blood. Just look at his brother Brandon at Illinois. I watched this game. I was amazed. If he is anything like his brother, the MAC could be in trouble. I mean, THAT WAS JARED SULLINGER HE BLOCKED!!!
Connar Tava and Jared Klein are good guard/forward types that like to move around and can hit jumpers. Tava loves to drive as well, so the Broncos look like they are going to have to be good at free throw shooting, something they struggled with last year.
Lastly, you have the 3-pt specialist. This year that is Kellen McCormick. In the Saturday morning scrimmages I went to, McCormick went 5-for-7 from 3, making all 5 in a row in one scrimmage and looks unstoppable when hot.
In all the team looks way different than before. The once post-em-up team has now become more spread out. No one player scores a majority of the points. Everyone gets in on the action. This should be one tough team to stop, with only their youth being the huge question mark. This team is athletic, but they must execute.
How do I think they'll do? They aren't better than Toledo, yet. The entire East should finish ahead of them as well. But the Michigan MAC Trophy? Winnable. 2nd in the West? Yep, that is possible. Call me crazy, but a 7th seed in the MAC tournament is in the future. A .500 season however as well.
Now I'm going to go back to hockey, which is what I can give you good coverage on.