Western Michigan Broncos
Overall Rank: #74
Conference Rank: #1 MAC
2006-07: 16-16, 9-7, 2nd West
2006-07 postseason: none
The only place to start when talking about Western Michigan basketball is with Joe Reitz. The 6-7 center might not be the biggest or toughest player in the conference, but Reitz is a great post scorer and opens up the offense for the rest of the team. For his senior year, Reitz is expected to dominate the MAC and could end up being the Broncos all-time leading scorer before all is said and done. Finding that piece of the puzzle to compliment Reitz in the paint is where WMU has some concerns. Andrew Hershberger and Jon Workman are the two biggest options. Hershberger is not a big scorer, but will do the dirty work. Workman, a 6-9 sophomore, is more perimeter orientated, but is the future of the power forward position. Don Lawson saw limited action as a freshman, but has already proven to be a presence on the defensive end.
The Broncos lose nobody due to graduation, but forward Donald Cloutier has opted to transfer. The 6-7 forward will continue his career at the Division II level at the University of Indianapolis. Cloutier was a productive member of the team when he was able to find the floor, but with so much talent on the wings, he was rarely given the opportunity.
Juston Hairston will provide some depth and athleticism to the small forward position. The 6-6 forward is a good shooter and a nice pickup for the Broncos, but barring unforeseen circumstances, Hairston will find it extremely difficult to receive quality minutes as a freshman. It has less to do with his talent then it does with the overall depth of the Bronco squad. Redshirt freshman walk-on guard Alex Wolf will also suit up on gameday at University Arena during the 2007-2008 campaign.
Who to Watch:
David Kool quickly emerged as the star of the perimeter group. Kool averaged 11.4 points per game en route to earning MAC Freshman Player of the Year accolades. With a year under his belt, Kool will do for the backcourt what Reitz does for the frontcourt. But it definitely is not all about Kool on the perimeter; he has a nice gang to work with. Point guard Michael Redell has a tendency to be a little too flashy and force the action a bit, but he is a good team leader and a solid scoring option. Shawntes Gary and Andre Ricks add some more quickness to the group. Gary has developed into a solid scorer and Ricks could do the same if he becomes more aggressive getting to the basket. Derek Drews, a 6-5 wing, earned a handful of starts as a freshman and proved to be the best shooter on the team. Drews shot over 46 percent from behind the arc and if he can keep that up, Drews will be tough to keep out of the starting lineup.
The amount of depth is just ridiculous. For a couple years Derek Fracalossi has figured to see fewer and fewer minutes, but the 6-5 Davison, Michigan product keeps earning plenty of playing time due to his ballhandling skills and toughness. Once again it will be easy to write off the point forward, but he will find a way back into the rotation. Silver Laku has been hampered by injuries and inconsistency much of his career, but the 6-2 senior can be a nice option off the bench if he can find his stroke. Coach Steve Hawkins has plenty of options with so much experience returning. A small forward like Drews can step into the four spot during certain situations when WMU needs another shooter on the floor. Dividing the minutes will be a bigger challenge this year than it was last year with the development of last year’s freshmen, but having too much depth will not be a big enough problem to stop Western Michigan from competing for a MAC championship.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Michael Redell, Junior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Shawntes Gary, Junior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
David Kool, Sophomore, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Andrew Hershberger, Senior, Forward, 3.2 points per game
Joe Reitz, Senior, Center, 13.9 points per game