Good article by Tom Berry.
[QUOTE][B]Panthers need more middle men
[I]By Tom Berry, Enterprise Sport Writer[/I][/B]
It’s too late for High Point to add a decent post player this season.
Is it too late to save the season?
Perhaps not, but an unfortunate and unpredictable series of events have made the Panthers a team without much of an inside presence and with virtually no frontcourt depth. Other than do-everything forward Arizona Reid, a 6-foot-5 senior who shines all over the court, High Point has no other consistent player in the paint.
“It’s nothing that we can’t overcome,” insisted HPU coach Bart Lundy, whose Panthers (6-4) play at Savannah State on Saturday afternoon. “We should still be able to produce at that position.”
But the Panthers still won’t have Jerald Minnis, the starting power forward last season whose senior year was wiped out when he suffered an Achilles injury before the beginning of practice.
The Panthers still won’t have forward Joey Taylor, who was expected to provide inside depth before being dismissed for “not meeting academic requirements of the basketball program,” according to Lundy.
The Panthers still can’t use forward Jourdan Morris, who must sit out after transferring from St. Bonaventure.
All three were in attendance on Tuesday during High Point’s 67-51 win over Savannah State at the Millis Center. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Morris and the 6-7, 235-pound Min*nis stood in line slapping hands with players during pregame introductions, while the 6-8, 240-pound Taylor sat in the stands behind the bench.
All were in street clothes, unable to help a team desperately in need of their assistance.
“Some things have happened that were beyond our control,” Lundy said.
One thing happened more than two years ago to provide the first crack in High Point’s current situation. The school heralded the signing of 6-9, 225*pound center Monquel Pegues from Wilson Fike. He would start immediately. He would be an inside presence.
Too bad he wouldn’t qualify academically. Pegues wound up at a junior college in Wilmington and now plays a key role for coach Steve Alford’s first team at New Mexico, grabbing 10 rebounds during a recent game.
Pegues is up to 6-10 and 255 pounds.
He’d look good in Panther purple.
“(Pegues) didn’t quite make it,” Lundy recalled. “But that happens to every program. You’ve got to keep recruiting.”
Even with Pegues long gone, High Point looked to be in good inside shape entering this season. Then Minnis, the team’s strongest and most popular player, went down with injury. Then Taylor went down with his academic problems, after teammates had praised his progress on the court following a disappointing freshman season.
Would Taylor have made an inside impact?
“It’s hard to say,” Lundy noted. “We never got to that point.”
Where are the Panthers now?
They’re starting a 6-foot-5, 205-pound freshman at center. Their main frontcourt reserves are a player coming back from a fractured voice box and a player whose college basketball career appeared over a year ago following another knee surgery.
It’s not an ideal situation.
The freshman starter is Earnest Bridges, who is athletic and aggressive but just not big enough to compete against most NCAA Division I opponents. Bridges had no points, no rebounds and two personal fouls in eight minutes on Tuesday against Savannah State.
The player coming back from a fractured voice box is 6-11 Cruz Daniels, who started at center against Charlotte to open the season but fouled out in seven minutes with no points. He was injured after looking dominant at times against Longwood on Dec. 1, and is now coming off the bench.
The player whose career appeared over is Josh Lamons, a 6-8 junior. To his credit, he has made amazing strides in spite of knee problems and has started a couple of games. Lamons had four rebounds in nine minutes on Tuesday and was singled-out by Lundy for praise.
Still, the trio of Bridges, Daniels and Lamons as inside options with Reid does not scare opponents. Perhaps the Panthers can piece together enough of a post presence to have a good season, but it’s hard to believe they can match the preseason prediction of first in the Big South.
That vote was taken without knowing about Minnis’ injury. It will be much more difficult to win the league now.
Ironically, HPU will be overflowing with big men next season. Morris will be eligible, Daniels is back and the highly regarded freshman class includes 6-9 Chad July and 6-9 Steadman Short.
“Next year, we won’t have this problem,” Lundy said. “We will be huge.”
But right now, the Panthers have a huge hole in the middle.[/QUOTE]