Although Coach Kevin Stallings was not displeased with the effort, it was a game in which the team obviously was not very effective against a winless opponent. If the pattern holds, Saturday night's game against the Centenary Gents (or Gentlemen) will go more smoothly.
The Gents are an independent team that had only an 8-19 record last year, yet they had the top-scoring player in NCAA Division I, Ronnie McCollum. The 6'4" McCollum averaged 29.1 ppg.
Obviously this was a big loss but this year's team has already won four of their first five games, but over weak opposition (East Texas Baptist, Le Tourneau, Southern, and Stephen F. Austin) at home.
Their only road trip resulted in a 92-76 loss at Tulane.
The best player on this year's team is certainly Andrew Wisniewski, 6'2" sophomore point guard, who transferred in from St. Peter's. Wisniewski is the leading scorer (19.0 ppg), is averaging over eight assists, and is even the leading rebounder! His running mate is 6'0" senior Kevin Atamah, who is the second leading scorer (14.4 ppg).
The Gents start a third guard, 6'4" sophomore Demario Hooper, who played a year at Tulsa under Bill Self (now coach at Illinois), and is averaging 13.8 ppg. Of the three, Atamah is by far the most dangerous outside shooter.
Wisniewski and Hooper get most of their points off the dribble, and get to the free throw line a lot.
6'4" sophomore Michael Gale (11.6 ppg) may play as many minutes as Atamah and Hooper. Cornelius Riley, 6'0" junior, will also see action.
None of the post players was very effective in the Gents's first five games. Four of them have been getting about equal playing time: 6'9" senior Brian Rabenhorst; 6'5" junior Melvin Dews; 6'6" JUCO transfer DeAndre Cornelius; and 6'6" freshman Chad Maclies. None of them has scored much; Cornelius is averaging 6.6 ppg, mainly because he has jacked up a lot of three pointers, a few of which have connected. Maclies, who missed the last two games, has been the most effective rebounder (average of 6.2 in the three games he has played). Two others who will play are juniors Kresimir Tomorad, 6'9", and Ronald Mickel, 6'5".
On paper, at least, the Gents are a weak rebounding team, and their two biggest players (Rabenhorst and Tomorad) have had unproductive careers to date.
Thus, Centenary is a heavily guard-oriented team, lacking an effective inside game. The rebounding is suspect, the outside shooting has been poor, and two of the four victories have come over teams that are not in Division I of the NCAA, the other two being at the expense of teams from near the bottom of Division I.
This is a team that the Vanderbilt team of two year's ago (Dan Langhi's senior year) would have beaten by 40 points. The present bunch of Commodores have defeated only one team easily, Liberty in the opener.
The Dores will win, and probably by a fairly good margin (10 or more points), if they aren't looking forward too much to their trip to New Orleans next Monday.