Today: Apr 23, 2024

Sports Commentary: High hopes for Owls Hoops

Ryan Flynn – Sports Editor

This is the year.

Owls hoops doesn’t kick off for another four weeks, but I can’t help myself. I’m excited for this year’s squad. On paper, it looks to be the most talented team of the Michael Donnelly era here at Southern.

The team, which went 14-13 last season, returns their dominant shot-blocker, two athletic wings and several young players who compliment the core well.

FRONTCOURT: Projected starters– Trevon Hamlet (Sr.), Lucas Van Nes (Fr.)

Okay, so maybe I’m taking a leap of faith here by inserting newcomer Van Nes into the starting five. He’s the tallest player Donnelly has ever had a Southern and size kills.

If it’s me, I’m starting Van Nes and sliding Hamlet to the power forward spot, where he can dominate smaller or similarly sized players and do what he does best: block shots. Hamlet had 61 blocks last year and also tied for second on the team with a .515 shooting percentage.

Hamlet is a defensive stalwart, but he’s also the team’s most consistent offensive player. Feeding him the rock down low is this team’s best bet to score in bunches.

Then again, we haven’t seen Van Nes play a minute in Owls blue, so expecting him to start right off the bat is probably not the most likely scenario.

BACKCOURT: Projected starters– Greg Langston (Jr.), Tylon Smith (So.), Luke Houston (So.)

Greg Langston, now a junior, led the team in scoring with just under 17 a game in 2011. Look for more of the same from the 6’3 swingman. He took 72 more shots than Hamlet last season, which I’d love to see balance out a little bit more, but you can’t deny Langston’s talent. He still needs to shoot better from deep, but no one on this team is better getting to the hoop.

Tylon Smith was a blur on the court during his freshman season, where for the most part Smith served as instant offense off the bench. Smith still managed to lead the team with 78 assists and finished strong by scoring a career high 25 points in the Owls’ postseason loss to UMass-Lowell. Smith was great as a microwave player off the bench, but with key scorer/facilitator Dominique Langston gone, there are plenty of shots that need to be replaced.

I look for Smith to take over in that regard, breaking down defenses and then dishing it out to his bigs and shooters. While he has no problem getting his own shot, I look for Smith to become more of a facilitator as well this season, and easily smash his assist total from last season.

Luke Houston rounds out my starting five. He led the team in three-point attempts in his freshman season and didn’t shoot a bad percentage (.320). Surrounded by three legitimate playmakers, Houston will get plenty of chances to shoot the rock again this year.

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