Aug. 24, 2004
On paper, this year's returning Broncos may be enough to get the team back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since Steve Nash's senior year. However, the four newcomers may have something to say about how minutes are dispersed and how far the team advances.
"When you bring in a JC player, you expect him to come in right away and contribute," says Dick Davey of transfer Tristan Parham, who brings an element of athleticism to the front line. "We are going to ask him to score a little more for us. His JC numbers didn't really show his entire game because they ran guys on and off the court so much. If he plays 25-30 minutes for us, then he can get 6-8 rebounds and maybe double-figure scoring. More than anything else, he gives us an athlete up front who can run, defend and block some shots." Davey sees Parham as a power forward but could have him playing the other front line positions depending on match-ups. However, after Travis Niesen's breakout year and the return to health of Jordan Legge, competition will be fierce for minutes at the "4."
"We probably have as much depth up front has we've had in a long time," adds Davey. "That gives us a lot of options depending on what we are trying to do with certain teams."
Some coaches in other parts of the country think Mitch Henke from Minnesota will be able take the small forward spot after a breakout year as a prep senior. His earlier high school career was as a role player on a team that featured players like Kris Humphries and a few other Division I players. GopherIllustrated.com calls Henke this most improved player in the state after averaging 21 points a game with an upgraded game off the bounce to go along with his jump shot. Davey will make him earn his minutes and he'll have to beat out an improved Ethan Rhode for time.
Another athletic forward who the staff feels may take some time to develop is incoming freshman Okechukwu Mbanugo. Davey calls him O.K., which may be where he is now but athletically he will give the Broncos another long athlete along the front line at 6'9". Mbanugo averaged a double-double with 5 blocks at American High in Fremont and will not have to come in right away and average big minutes with the logjam at power forward.
With Brandon Rohe's status to be determined as he recovers from injury, there should be some minutes at the point for Brody Angley with Kyle Bailey and Doron Perkins getting most of the time handling the ball. A scout told me he would be in the Pac-10 if he had another couple inches (he is listed at 6 feet). Brody is a ultra competitive point who was the guts of his high school program for four years (Enterprise High in Redding) and was named all-state as a freshman.
With the core of the team back from last year's WCC tourney semifinalists and the tourney once again at Leavey, the pieces may be already in place for a run to the post-season. However, with Pepperdine , Saint Mary's and Gonzaga bringing back solid teams, I'm guessing SCU needs at least 2 of the new kids to make an impact to be playing into mid-March.