THE HORNETS' NEST -- Season 61 preview
Every time I think I'm getting a foothold in this league, I find out how wrong I am. Once again, I thought I'd secured a solid recruiting class, only to look at what the rest of the league is bringing in and wondering if it's good enough.
In any event, expectations aren't all that high in Winchester this season. After not living up to billing in Season 60 and with five new freshmen added to the roster, this is one of those rebuilding type years that runs the risk of being downright brutal in the stacked USA South. Before looking at the year ahead, let's meet the new faces:
-- Dennis Frisch from Hiram, Ga. I'll curse his career right now by calling him the standout of the Season 61 recruiting class. His BH is average. SB, LP and DUR are all Low. Everything else is high. He's listed as a SG by position, and I'm sure he'll see some time there, but with a rebounding number that could be well into the 40s by graduation, he'll ultimately spend time in the 3 slot as well.
-- Charles Davis, out of Montrose, Colo., should provide some speed at the guard slots. His BH and PASS numbers won't reach the levels needed to be a standout PG (his listed position) at the college ranks, but the high-potential PER could make him a good SG. By graduation, he could be 55/85 ATH/SPD with a DEF of 60+, which I'm hoping will make him a pain in the butt as a defender.
--Mark Nusbaum comes from Gatewood High School in Eatonton, Ga. Yes, I shamelessly invaded the homeland of the one Sim AI coached school in our league to grab a pair of Georgia boys. He's another player listed as a PG that easily rolls to SG. Part of my strategy this time around was looking for players that fit at multiple positions in the lineup as it seems my best success in this conference has been with teams that had multiple "flex" sorts of players that could swing between positions. Nusbaum will lack the speed of a USA South PG, which could mean he spends his Hornet career in perpetual foul trouble. He'll have good PER and BH numbers by graduation and an ATH in the 40s. If I had to predict the future, I'd say Nusbaum is probably most likely to provide bench depth with the occasional spot start.
--David Simmons out of Phoenix High School in Roseburg, Ore. brings a Shaq-like FT percentage of 55 percent to the program, but we think we can turn that around over four years and reveal his true high potential at the stripe. Of course, that's what they said about Shaq too... The REB and LP are, of course, high potential, but the SB is stuck pretty much where you see it. I'm hoping for a 65/50 ATH/SPD split at graduation with a 60ish defense.
--Donald Tassone from Summers County HS in Hinton, W. Va., was the boy next door that we thought we'd grab on the fairly cheap. Obviously, the fact that I was able to get him from nearby, with all the other higher prestige USA South and ODAC schools floating around, means he has some obvious deficiencies that let him slip through the cracks. In Donald's case, it's that his stamina is destined to suck for life. I can live with that...not everyone has to be a 20-25 mpg starter. When he does hit the floor, he'll develop into a 48/50+ Ath/Spd with REB and LP's in the 70s and the bonus of being able to handle the ball and pass it somewhat.
Overall, I feel it's a solid class, although it might be lacking in that high-end superstar potential. In addition to its flexibility, the class is blessed with some solid work ethics across the board that should help foster the high-category developments. Considering it came from a C prestige, that's probably the best I can ask for.
As for the season, we return one 600+ rated player in Rummel, then fall off to a 548 in Massey and a 535 in Land. From this, I'd expect the strength of the team to be in the low post most likely, but we lack a true "solid" center type. We're also thin at guard, so some of these youngsters will have to produce minutes this year. If it sounds like I'm writing my own obituary for the season here, there could be a reason for that. I'll take hitting double digits in the win column and be happy. There are brighter days ahead.
Edit: I may have been unduly harsh on myself. As I examine things today, I notice that this team begins the season as the No. 24 team in Division III in terms of speed and at No. 13 overall in ball handling. That combination should at least lead to an epic number of free throws.