Scouting William & Mary
William & Mary turned in one of the best seasons the program ever has had last year. The Tribe went 22-11 and earned a berth in the National Invitational Tournament for the second time in school history. William & Mary hadn't won 20 games in a single campaign since the 1997-98 season. The Tribe -- which claimed road victories at Maryland and Wake Forest -- lost in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship game for the second time in the past three seasons, one step short of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
On Friday night, William & Mary will travel to John Paul Jones Arena to take on host Virginia in both teams' regular season opener.
"Last season, in general, did a lot for the confidence of our program, and I think guys are carrying themselves a little bit differently right now," Coach Tony Shaver said Thursday in a telephone interview.
This season, Shaver will be working with a much different nucleus of talent. William & Mary lost three starters from last year's squad and will rely on junior forward Quinn McDowell (6-foot-6, 212 lbs.) to lead a cast of either players who had much smaller roles on last season's squad or who are newcomers to the college game. The Tribe was predicted to finish eighth in the CAA this season.
McDowell ranked second on the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) last year and is the team's leading returning scorer. He shot 49.3 percent from the field and 42.6 percent (58 for 136) from three-point range in 2009-10. McDowell also grabbed 4.3 rebounds per game.
McDowell will be without David Schneider and Danny Sumner -- who helped William & Mary set a conference record by making 295 three-pointers last season -- and will have to be a steadying force for the Tribe as new starters grow comfortable in their newer, larger roles. But Shaver said he has stressed to McDowell that the player doesn't have to go out of his way to try to do too much on the floor.
"Quinn's role, quite honestly, I don't think is going to change a lot," Shaver said. "And I think the one thing that I've talked to Quinn a little bit about is, I want you to be Quinn McDowell. I think so often guys make that mistake of feeling like their points have got to go up, they've got to have the ball in their hands more and take more key shots. He's already done those things for us, and I think the thing I've tried to caution him about is just be yourself. Continue to lead us, do all the little things well.
"Truthfully, his stats could go down this year because he's going to get so much attention from everybody we play. I think it's important for Quinn to be Quinn and not go outside his character."
The only other starter returning for William & Mary is senior forward Marcus Kitts (6-foot-9, 230 lbs.). Kitts averaged 7.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last year. He also led the team in blocks (33) and shot 62.5 percent from the field.
Four reserve players averaged more than 11 minutes per game last season for the Tribe, and they will be forced to take on greater responsibilities this year. Junior forward JohnMark Ludwick (6-foot-8, 230 lbs.) averaged 4.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 40.2 percent (39 for 97) from three-point range. In fact, Ludwick attempted only 10 shots from inside the three-point line last season.
Sophomore forward Kyle Galliard (6-foot-7, 210 lbs.) averaged 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game, while sophomore guard Matt Rum (6-foot-4, 180 lbs.) averaged 2.7 points per game. Both Galliard (38.3 percent) and Rum (36.5 percent) struggled with their respective shots last season. Junior guard Kendrix Brown (6-foot-3, 195 lbs.) averaged 2.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest.
"These are guys that have played quality minutes for us," Shaver said. "Sometimes it's been five minutes, sometimes it's been 15 minutes in a game, but Ludwick and Brown and Rum and Galliard, those four in particular, have played key minutes for us in big ballgames. Now they're going to be asked to do it on a consistent basis. I think their concentration and focus has got to be different, and they've got to be ready to play more minutes, which most young kids look forward to. I think they'll be ready to do those things."
Another batch of young players who Shaver may look to for fairly immediate contributions are the team's four freshmen. The new class includes center Fred Heldring (6-foot-9, 230 lbs.), forward Tim Rusthoven (6-foot-8, 210 lbs.) and guard Brandon Britt (6-foot-0, 165 lbs.).
Shaver said Britt will play "a good bit" Friday night against Virginia. He called Britt "a very good shooter, a very intelligent basketball player" who has "a really good feel for the game." Britt's slight build may cause him to "get banged around a little bit," but Shaver is confident the player will adjust.
One freshman who won't be available for the Tribe for the near future is guard Julian Boatner, who Shaver said will miss the next few weeks with a fractured bone in his wrist. "But he's very explosive," Shaver added.
William & Mary relies on three-point shooting, back cuts to the basket and precise execution. Whether or not the Tribe will be as in sync this season as they were last year remains to be seen.
"The one thing we don't have is the experience level we had," Shaver said. "We're coming off a team that had done a lot of things together to a team with only one senior right now, so we're going to have to understand it's going to take some time to allow these guys to have those same experiences."
| November 12, 2010; 9:52 AM ET
Categories: Men's Basketball
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