Christian Brothers finished a disappointing 6-10 in conference play last year, placing them seventh in the GSC West. They were 14-13 overall, but it was a disappointing year for the group of seniors that included backcourt mates Jake Bazeley and Clint Dowdle. Neither was as good as advertised, with Bazeley posting a barely above average PER of 16.93 (3rd on the team, league average being 15), while Dowdle was extremely disappointing at 11.70. Bazeley is staying on the team this year as head coach Mike Nienaber’s assistant, perhaps to try and improve upon last year’s finish.
Christian Brothers is always one of the smaller teams in the league, so they are expected to shoot well to compensate for their lack of size. Last year was strange, though, as rebounding proved to be the team’s biggest strength for the season as a whole. CBU outrebounded its opponents by nearly 14%, the fourth-best mark in the division, but in division play alone, the team was outrebounded by about 11%. If that doesn’t say something about the importance of looking at schedule strength, I don’t know what does. Also unfortunate for the Bucs was that they lost their usually-large shooting edge, which fell to about three percent (minus-four in GSC play). Strangely, the Bucs were poor handlers of the ball on the season, but better against GSC teams than not. I suppose they may have been a bit too conservative (sort of the anti-Harding of the GSC West, which is another story in and of itself). CBU also did a poor job getting to the free-throw line, making the second-fewest number of shots in the league.
From the individual stats below (see the explanation if some of the stats look unfamiliar), you might notice something interesting. Aside from Clint Dowdle’s poor rating, CBU did an good job of giving the ball to its best players. Sure, Weybright should have played more, but he was a freshman, so I think we can give Nienaber a break there.
What’s so interesting about those stats? To me, it looks like CBU was pretty efficient on the whole, which is interesting because they barely cracked .500 overall. My best guess for why this happened is that CBU just wasn’t very athletic as a team, so they were poor on-the-ball defenders against the rest of the league. Guys like Edward and Emmanuel White eat guys like Clint Dowdle for breakfast.
This may all be a moot point, since Bazeley, Dowdle, and the other effective players not named Weybright are all gone this year. Christian Brothers will basically have to start from scratch. The Bucs will miss the rebounding and energy that Jordon Jeffries brought to the game (it was always so much fun when he fouled out here at the RFH), but they may miss the outside shooting of Bazeley, Lou Wright, and Dowdle even more. Even if they weren’t great defenders, it’s tough to replace that kind of scoring talent. Presumably in for those players will be Bradley, Brock, and Casiano, none of which were particularly effective last year. Casiano was a decent ballhandler but a poor shooter, while Bradley was a decent shooter who turned the ball over too much. Brock wasn’t much more than a warm body inside.
CBU has a lot of newcomers this year, mostly from west Tennessee and (for some unknown reason) Cincinnati, Ohio. Most of them are guards, as usual, which probably means that 6-8 of them won’t see any playing time. Brandon Shane and Brian Murphy look like the most promising outside players, while Nick Kohs may be a solid post player. I think they’ll need a little more than that to compete this year, so I think they may have a hard time improving on last year’s seventh-place finish. CBU has a good program, but they’ll need more size and athleticism to compete year in and year out.