Searching for leaders with no seniors
Last season it was easy to see that the leaders of the men’s basketball team would be the two seniors, Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore.
With these players graduated and one four year player, who has only been with the team since the summer, the Pirates will need to find leadership elsewhere.
The two standouts are junior forwards Fuquan Edwin and Patrik Auda, who have played the most minutes of any Pirates on the roster.
“(Edwin) and (Auda) really have to step their games up,” head coach Kevin Willard said in a conference call on Wednesday. “Not only just scoring but their overall production; rebounds, assists.”
Edwin said that he likes the added pressure of being a team leader because it doesn’t affect him on the court.
“It’s good,” he said. “I have a lot of pressure on me, but pressure is something I can deal with pretty well. It gives the guys someone to look up to when things aren’t going our way.”
Edwin said that the best way he could be a leader was to be a role model for the younger players, showing them how to act in practice.
“In practice when I’m not playing well, I got Willard on my back just talking negative to me,” he said. “I do get mad sometimes, but I have to maintain my focus. When (younger players) see coach yelling at me, they see me not get mad or not put my head down. They just see me listen and take it.”
Edwin was the team’s third leading scorer last season with 12.5 points per game, behind Theodore and Pope. He also led the nation in steals, averaging 3.0 per contest. Auda averaged a team fifth-best 6.7 points per game, but saw less playing time as the season progressed because of personal struggles coupled with sophomore forward Brandon Mobley’s improvements.
Theodore led the team in scoring last year with 16.1 points per game, which was ninth in the Big East. He also averaged 6.6 assists per contest, which was second best in the conference. Theodore passed former Pirate Golden Sunkett’s single-season assist record.
“You don’t replace a Jordan Theodore,” Willard said. “Jordan had as good a year as anybody could have wanted.”
Sophomores Aaron Cosby and Freddie Wilson and freshman Tom Maayan are the players competing for playing time at point guard.
“It will be by committee,” Willard said. “But none of those point guards will have the responsibility that Jordan had last year.”
Cosby made 31 starts in 34 games last year for the Hall and lead the team in 3-point field goal percentage. He was the forerunner for the position after running the point in the team’s trip to Spain during the summer.
A sprained PCL has kept him sidelined for the past few weeks, but Willard said that he will be checked out by doctors before the Pirates opener on Friday.
Edwin said that Cosby needs to step up this season, to show other team’s that he can be a serious threat at point guard.
“People on other teams don’t think we have a point guard,” Edwin said. “So that should be disrespectful for (Cosby).”
Wilson made 32 appearances last season, which included one start. He averaged 1.8 points per game.
“The more (Wilson) understands the defensive stuff, the more playing time he’ll get,” Willard said. “We’re playing him at both positions this year. We’re putting him on the wing because he has a great scorer’s mentality.”
Maayan comes to the Hall from Galil, Israel. In 2010 and 2011 he earned National High School Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Despite losing two leaders and an uncertainty at the point guard position, Edwin said this year’s team might be the best he’s played on.
“(We’re) better,” he said. “We’re not only younger, but we connect better. We’re definitely a bigger team.”
Willard said the team’s size and depth has helped in their defensive scheming moving forward, but has taken time getting used to the difference from the previous two years.
“We’re much bigger and longer team than we have been in the past,” Willard said. “That has taken me a little bit of time to adjust to, so we are definitely playing. We played a lot of zone last year because we were small and this year we are able to play a lot more man to man and use our length to our advantage.”
The Pirates will begin their 2012-13 campaign as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off. They will face UMKC at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.Brennan@student.shu.edu.