The state of the Wofford Men's Basketball program

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The state of the Wofford Men's Basketball program

Postby woffordgrad94 on Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:56 pm

Well, another season is history. I'm sorry, but I don't really see how a 20-loss season can be considered a success under any kind of measure. We had some nice wins (at Cincinnati, Furman at home), but a lot more extremely frustrating defeats and yet another year of injuries we just could not recover from. The question I put before you good folks is: Will Wofford basketball ever be able to move into the upper half of the SoCon? Let me be the first to say that I really don't think so. Here are some reasons why:

1. The athletic budget afforded to men's basketball at the school (we all know about this all too well).
2. The mission of the school and the school's general indifference towards athletic records in sports not named football. When I say the mission of the school, I mean that Wofford always places such a strong priority on academics first and that atheletes are not cut any slack with this policy or with their academic schedules like at some other conference schools I know of. While this is very honorable and commendable in many ways, it does not always help you win basketball games.
3. A lot of folks are excited about some promising freshmen post players that will be coming aboard next season. I am too, but its important to remember that this team was still near the bottom of the conference with both Tyler Berg and Howard Wilkerson (probably the best post guy ever at the school) in the starting lineup.
4. We never have any depth.
5. We always have a season-ending injury to at least one key player every season, aned because of #4, we can't cope with it and recover like other SoCon teams might could.
6. The Ben Johnson Arena, though dear to my heart and a very nice place to watch basketball in, is becoming dated. Other schools in the conference either have or are building superior facilities. Wofford has no plans in the immediate future for a new arena that is really needed to compete in this conference. The Ben Jo is not exactly a recruiting magnet.

I'm not saying that we should not support this program and I'm not saying that we should give up on it. On the contrary, our young men playing basketball need all the support that they can get. They are all excellent student-athletes who always play hard and give it all they've got. I just think thare are too many disadvantages that they have to overcome. We may just have to be happy with the occassional big upset and some nice conference wins at home. Our program simply isn't equipped to make a run at a SoCon title or a long SoCon Tourney run.
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Postby BestOfBreed on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:07 pm

Anyone know how many scholarships the men's basketball team has to give? The NCAA allows 13 I think. I'm pretty sure Wofford has less than 13 to give though. I've heard mention that they have the least # of scholarships of any team in the conference but I've never gotten any concrete info.

Can't have depth with scholarships.
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Postby terriers on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:16 pm

'94, I think your analysis of our program is right on the money, although
I'm a little more positive about our future. We definitely need to in-
crease our BB budget, although being a huge football fan, I'm glad
we are making football our top priority. Your point #2 concerning aca-
demics is one I hope we never change. Davidson is clearly the class
of the conference this year and they certainly adhere to a strict
academic policy. Other than the BenJo arena depth accounts for most
of our other problems.

I think we could make a good run at the conference if we ease up on
our monsterous non-conference schedule(which I have always felt
was ridiculous) and have an injury free season coupled with a lot of
luck. Next year with the right team chemistry and an easier non-
conference schedule allowing us to peak when it counts--maybe.
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Postby Rowdy on Sat Mar 03, 2007 3:28 pm

We are two (2) scholarships short of the maximum. This doesn't seem to hurt us too badly until a key player goes down, or the coaching staff mis-evaluates a recruit. We signed one or two last year that I think were mis-evaluated (but we were right on with a couple as well). We will be in dire straights if we don't come up with a good point guard to help next year and replace Drew in 2009.
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Postby Eyes of Old Main on Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:37 pm

I think most of these points are very valid. Money drives the scholarship, recruiting budget and facility train. Some of the money problems are fundraising oriented, some may be allocation oriented. We, the fans, can contribute to the overall quantity of donations, but we have to hope the Athletic Dept. allocates those resources for maximum benefit.

I can see that the arena is a step behind most others in the league. I know for a fact that the original plans for the Richardson Building include a proposed addition with a new arena. Where that stands in the long range plan, I don't know, but I doubt its a priority.

As for the evaluation of talent, it's understandable that we might miss on some players occasionally since we have such a small recruiting budget. If you don't have the money to visit places and properly evaluate talent, you aren't going to hit a home run everytime.

I don't question that those involved in the program want to win and are doing all they can with what we have. My questions is whether the leadership of the school itself is committed to developing athletically successful programs across the board the way they are committed to academics. That is not a statement about the coaches or even Richard Johnson, I know they want to win.

My concern rests more with President Dunlap and the administration at that level. It is my opinion that since taking over for President Lesesne, Dunalp has been much more concerned with climbing the US News rankings than the SoCon rankings. While it always warms my heart when Wofford moves up in those things, I am not sure how much that really helps bring in new students. Wofford is a place you have to see to understand and a ranking isn't going to do that.

Until Wofford's ultimate leadership develops a burning desire to match its athletic rankings with its academic rankings, I am afraid we will stay where we are for the most part going forward.
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Postby dude on Sun Mar 04, 2007 7:29 pm

I think we ought to have a chance to have a very nice team next season. Certainly, the backcourt should be a strength, with Drew Gibson, Shane Nichols and Junior Salters.

I think one major key will be the development of Corey Godzinski. With his height, he could really give teams major match-up problems....but that depends on how well he gets it all together....shooting, ball-handling, defense. I do think he's got some talent, and I think the coaches expect big things from him.

Another key will be how well Noah Dahlman, the recruit from MN, is ready to play. Sounds like he's a real good athlete and tough kid. But freshman year in D-I can be a major transition from high school. But solid contributions from him in the paint could make a MAJOR difference. Tyler Whatley had very little help this year.

Beyond next season, it'll be interesting. We certainly have some intriguing young players/recruits. But securing things at the point guard spot will be important.
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Postby Rowdy on Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:11 pm

OK, the genesis of some of this discussion seems to be that Wofford is spending more money on football than other sports and that we don't care about men's basketball. Running the numbers, we had 48 football athletic scholarships in 2003 when we ran the SoCO and went to the semi-finals in the playoffs. 48 scholarships divided by the max of 63 equals 76% of the number we could have had if we were a cheap state school where a few dollars buys a full scholarship (you get what you pay for). In mens basketball, we have 11 athletic scholarships versus the max of 13. That represents 85% of the number we could have had, AND everyone else in the conference has TODAY.

In my opinion, the football coaching staff is doing a superior job. They recruit good athletes, but not the best to be found in 1 AA (sorry, I can not remember the new acronym). They mold these young athletes and scholars into a formidable force due to their system and passion and compete with the best in the country (and at odds no one else would consider).

In basketball. I'm not sure that a coaching style is going to win games for you. I never played Bball, but it seems much less a team sport than football. Looking at the successful Bball programs in the SoCo this year, Davidson in particular, they seem to have superior athletes. I believe a superior athlete, or two, or three will make even me coach of the year in the conference. Mike Young seems to be doing as well as one could given the limitations he faces at WoCo. That being the limited budget (which affects recruiting) and the shortage of scholarships. He can't make a mistake in recruiting or allow a player to get injured. My only problem with Mike Young is the team isn't consistent from game to game. Some games we are up and some we are down. I think a good coach would figure this out and be more consistent. But I'm not ready to let him go at this point. I see too much potential in Mike. Given good resources, he can be a great coach.

Now the one true answer to this quandary is to increase the budget. That said, it isn't that simple. We are a school of some 1200 students. We also pride ourselves in being an elite college with high academic standards, even for athletes! We can't recruit nationally due to limited funds much less internationally as everyone of our competitors do. We do recruit good players who represent the college well. In short, don't sell Mike Young short or think all of the money is going to football. MY is doing a good job with the resources he has. If you want better, give until it hurts to the Terrier Club. And NO, I do not have an affiliation with the college outside being a graduate and a love for it.
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Postby dude on Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:10 pm

While it's certainly not a blanket excuse, I think it's reasonable to factor in the outrageous bad luck with injuries Wofford has endured.

**Eric Marshall, missing most of last season and a good deal of this season. With Eric in the line-up last year, I think we'd have had the talent to make a serious run at the league title. Would have done so? We'll never know, but I do think the talent was there.
**Howard Wilkerson the year before that. While Howard played well as a senior, I'm not sure he wasn't still feeling the effects of his injury. I'm not sure he was top strength last year.
**Justin Stephens -- that kid could have been one of Wofford's greatest scorers and backcourt players ever. He essentially had THREE seasons screwed up because of injury.

Those aren't losses that a program can easily recover from. Any program would feel major effects, I think. Wofford may have less room for such problems, because of a lack of depth and whatever. But to lose your top scorer -- especially in cases (like Stephens) where it impacts several seasons -- is a major, major deal, it seems to me.

On questions of the program, in general:

How do coaches establish a recruiting pipeline from Europe or Africa? Is it going to clinics and such? Can our coaches get involved?

What would be the possibilities of Wofford's hiring another assistant at full salary? Is it just out the question? Would an older guy who's just been around (maybe at the high school level) a long time help on some fronts? Not that our coaching staff is weak, but would it help in terms of teaching or freeing Mike Young up more for recruiting or whatever it might be that could help?
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Postby terriers on Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:14 pm

Amen, Rowdy, I must take this opportunity to accent the second
paragraph of your posting regarding our 2003 football team. De-
spite the high esteem in which I hold Mike Ayers(and I consider him
the greatest 1-AA fooyball coach in America) I rank our undefeated
SoCon season as one of the greatest feats of all time--for any sport.
As you so accurately described, he did it with players like J. R. McNair
who had the heart of a lion and the soul of a saint.

I think we have a tendency to hold all our coaches to the standards
of Ayers and there just aren't that many around like him. M. Young ap-
pears to be one post player away from a competive team. Hopefully,
the addition of Dahlman and better team chemistry will solve his
consistency problems.
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Postby TURKEYCREEK on Sun Mar 04, 2007 11:41 pm

I agree with most that has been said here. I do know that Wofford is working on slowing increasing the number of students. This will help increase the number of athletic scholarships. Wofford is working towards increasing the number of athletic scholarships through the Terrier Club as well.

I dont know the final level Wofford is aiming for, but I know they are actively working towards this goal. Hopefully this will lead to Wofford being able to be a little more selective in recruiting for the basketball team. All of Wofford's teams can use some good depth and increasing the available scholarships is a good way to begin achieving this.
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The schedule

Postby woffordgrad94 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:22 pm

I, too, would like to see Wofford play a less-demanding non-conference schedule. i understand that some big money games are always going to be necessary at a small school like wofford, and that these games offer the opportunity not only for a sizeable check, but also for program exposure and for big upsets. I alos think the idea of playing big programs can help in the recruiting of certain players at times. However, I also think these games lead to increased chances of injury as well as loss of team confidence when things don't go so well. And losses are simply a reality when you face a brutal schedule, and people can't help but get down some and lose some confidence. we need to replace some of our big games with some teams from smaller conferences like the Big South, Atlantic Sun, and Colonial, just to name a few. Take off some unneccesary trips like @Michigan, and play some teams like Winthrop, UNC-Asheville, PC, USC Upstate, Gardner-Webb, and East Tennessee.

However, this is all a dream. Richard Johnson has made very clear his intentions to continue to schedule the same way he always has, and I doubt that anything or anybody is going to change his mind. I read an article in the Herald-journal where Richard explained why Wofford has "no room" for USC Upstate or PC on its basketball schedule. At least we go to a 20-game conference slate next year, which might eliminate two brutal non-conference games. Then again, it may eliminate two sure wins against cupcakes like Erskine and Toccoa Falls.
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Postby Ruckus on Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:32 pm

I don't think we want anything to do with Winthrop as they are much better than our cruuent non-conference opponents. One reason RJ doesn't want anyhting to do with PC or USCS is the risk of losing to them. Too much downside and risk for the minimal gain to us of beating them. I for one like the scheduling.
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Postby BossTerrier on Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:06 pm

I agree with Rukus. I like the scheduling. We have to play these money games, although I would prefer that we look for opportunities to win, like the Cinncinnati game or V Tech a few years ago. We can't debate the money games, we have to play them for the revenue.
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Postby terriers on Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:15 pm

I think the expansion of the conference schedule will solve the
problem for me. Two or three monster games is fine but six or
seven poundings wears on my fractured pride. We do need the
money.
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Postby Eyes of Old Main on Mon Mar 05, 2007 8:50 pm

Obviously, we need the money and will continue to play the games against the ACC, SEC, etc. I have no problem with that.

I also have no problem with us playing a few smaller schools like Toccoa Falls and Erskine for wins. The NCAA grants us four of these games, and we usually schedule all four, but this year we only played three.

What I would like are more games with schools at our level. Like this year when we played James Madison and Jacksonville State. These are games we have a chance in and give us the experience of playing games against teams more like our SoCon opponents. While we probably should steer clear of PC and Upstate for the threat of losing and Winthrop for the sake of getting our teeth kicked down our throats, there is no reason we couldn't maintain a few multi-year home and home series with schools from the Big South, Atlantic Sun, OVC Colonial or even the Sun Belt.
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