#112 Winthrop: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #112
Conference Rank: #1 Big South Conference
2009-10: 19-14, 12-6
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Randy Peele (52-45 at Winthrop, 98-114 overall)
There were times last season, like in their opening round NCAA Tournament loss to Arkansas Pine Bluff, when Winthrop could not hit a shot. The overall team shooting numbers do not look like that of a team that reached the NCAA Tournament, but with defense and hustle, Coach Randy Peele led his Eagles to yet another tournament bid.
Key Losses: C Andy Buechert, F Mantoris Robinson
The guards who generally shot so poorly are all back, so this recruiting class does not address that issue too much. However, Derrick Scott was added to address those outside shooting woes. Scott does not look like a shooter, at 6-9 and 195 pounds, but he sure shoots like one. It may be asking a bit too much to rely on the freshman, instead of working on returning players shooting, but if Scott really can come in and start knocking down three’s, he will see plenty of playing time. The three new big guys will have to battle for playing time off the bench as well. Joey Jerome, Martaveous Smith and Julius Francis will need to help fill the void left behind by the departing Andy Buechert and Mantoris Robinson.
Robbie Dreher shot 20.6 percent from beyond the arc last season and Andre Jones 21.7 percent. Gideon Gamble connected on a mere 26.1 percent of his attempts and Justin Burton hit a dismal 15.6 percent. Those are some awful numbers. To be fair, most of the team recognized their lack of shooting ability and did not take too many shots, but having somebody who can stretch out the defense would be nice. Also, to be fair, each of those four players brings something else to the table. Dreher does a good job finishing around the basket, while Andre Jones is a decent ballhandler. Gamble was just a freshman last year and should only get better with time and Burton is the backup point guard who does not need to make shots to have a good outing.
The shooting is not going to come from the frontcourt either. However, Matt Morgan is a good interior scorer who has the potential to stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability; although he would be wise to stay inside the arc. Without the top team rebounders from the 2009-2010 campaign, Morgan will be asked to help out more on the glass, especially on the defensive end. He is already a superb offensive rebounder. For now George Valentine will join Morgan in the starting lineup. Valentine only saw action in seven games last year before going down for the season with an injury. The 6-8 junior is not much of a scoring threat, but he could be the leading rebounder on this team. Charles Corbin would likely be the starter if he could stay out of trouble. Corbin will be suspended for the first semester and the team will certainly miss his 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. More importantly, they will miss having another experienced big body in the paint and the newcomers will be forced into action.
Who to Watch:
The Eagles did have one player who shot over 30 percent from three-point range. Reggie Middleton turned into the star of the team and led the way with 10.1 points and 2.8 assists. The 6-1 junior was playing pretty good basketball by the end of the season and he is the player who can turn an ugly offense into a decent offense. That will be his duty this season, whether he does it himself or finds open teammates for easy buckets.
The offense simply cannot be as bad as it was last year. At times it was ugly and that is why Winthrop ended up third in the conference pecking order. They got hot at the right time and made it to the big tournament, but then got cold at the wrong time. That sort of inconsistency is not going to win a conference championship. But a year older and a year wiser, the Winthrop offense should be good enough for another NCAA appearance.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Reggie Middleton, Junior, Guard, 10.1 ppg
Andre Jones, Junior, Guard, 5.9 ppg
Gideon Gamble, Sophomore, Guard, 3.5 ppg
George Valentine, Junior, Forward, 4.0 ppg
Matt Morgan, Junior, Center, 9.6 ppg
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