I’ll skip the Bisons for the time being and go straight to the OBU Tigers, last year’s fourth-best team among GSC squads. Ouachita actually finished in a three-way tie for third with Harding and Arkansas-Monticello also 10-6 in GSC West play, but they were fourth-best by my estimation. Head coach Charlie Schaef led his Tigers to an 8-3 non-conference record, two of which were very close, so I expected a lot of them in the regular season. They were solid in the conference season, but the team’s weaknesses showed through against better opposition.
|Four Keys||Four Keys|
The Tigers were a weak rebounding team to start the season, but they turned that into their biggest strength in conference play, outrebounding their opponents by seven percent. OBU also had an edge in turnovers, with a small and athletic lineup that had the best opponent turnover ratio of any team in GSC games. Offensive efficiency was somewhat of a problem for the Tigers, but just a minor one at minus-four percent. The team’s biggest weakness was actually at the free-throw line. Their 285 attempts were about league-average, but they only shot 64 percent, leaving them far short of their opponents in terms of free throws made. That 13 percent disadvantage was almost certainly the difference between having the #5 seed in the GSC West and being one of the top seeds.
Now, take a look at their individual stats from 2004-05 (explanation):
Now, take all of the above stats with a grain of salt, since all but two of those players are gone now. Only Brian Ross and Justin DeLamar are holdovers from last year’s team, and you can quickly see that neither played a whole lot or did anything spectacular. With just 34 minutes of playing time between them (at least in the games I have stats for), I can’t really say much about them. I somewhat doubt that either will play much this year. Lucky Butler will return to the squad this year after redshirting last season. Butler is a solid outside shooter, and I imagine that he will be a starting guard or sixth man.
OBU, like Harding, tends to get a handful of good transfers and a decent freshman or two each year, and they’re usually fairly comparable to what we get. Center Travis Carrington will probably get a fair share of the time in the post, and he was nothing spectacular at Black Hawk CC last year, shooting 53% (about 4 PPG and 5 RPG). My best guess is that he’ll be a serviceable GSC center and nothing more. Guard Damon Harris will be back in the GSC after playing for Arkansas-Monticello, and I remember him as a good distributor. I suspect that he will start at point guard, with either D-I transfer Daniel Munday or JC transfer Brandon Dawson at the two. George Kirby looks like a good JC transfer, since he put up frequent double-doubles for Phoenix College last season. Still, it will be hard to get all these players on the right track to make a solid GSC team, and I think they will fall short of the conference tournament this season as they rebuild. However, with Butler and Ross as their only seniors, they will probably be a force in the years to come.