Part 1: Questions Heading into the New Season
As with any season, there are always questions before the games begin. On the eve of the 2015-16 season we take a look at the five biggest questions for the Jays as they begin year three in the Big East. In this two part series we take a look at the first two questions.
Question 1: Can the center position be productive and stay healthy?
Senior Geoff Groselle came on strong in the second half of the 2014-15 season. For the season Groselle averaged 5.4 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per contest. However, in the last ten games Groselle averaged 9.1 points per game and 3.9 rebounds. This huge jump in production gives the Jays a big boost entering this season. Coupled with the return of junior Zach Hanson and highly touted freshman Justin Patton, it would seem the Jays are in great shape. But as a great man once said, "Not so fast my friend."
Groselle has been hampered by injuries his entire career. Even during his stretch run last season he had difficulty getting loose after halftime and foot problems have been a constant worry. Hanson, after a promising freshman season, was AWOL in way too many games last year. He seemed to not play with the same toughness and passion as he did in his first season. He also had trouble hanging on to the ball and fumbled many a pass out of bounds. Patton shows flashes but does not seem strong enough to handle the physical play of Division I basketball.
It seems at this point that it is more likely to see power forwards Toby Hegner and Martin Krampelj back up Groselle than Hanson or Patton. The debate is on among the coaching staff whether to redshirt Patton or not. If he does sit this season that puts more pressure on Hanson who has been injured with a bad ankle for most of the pre-season. The dilemma then becomes can your 4's (Hegner and Krampelj) hold their own defensively and can they rebound enough if they back-up Groselle?
The decision on Patton will probably tell us which way the coaching staff will go. However even if the decision is made to redshirt Patton, injury could cause the redshirt to be pulled. Either way it is very clear-the performance at the center position could be the biggest key to the Bluejays season.
Question 2: Who plays the 4? And will the productivity be consistent?
Last year Toby Hegner logged most of the minutes at the 4. He was then rarely seen in the second half with CU mostly going to a smaller line up, usually featuring Ricky Kreklow at the 4. While sometimes effective this smaller lineup really didn't gain much on the offensive end or on the boards. Yet Hegner, the 6-10 sophomore, has been a major disappointment on the glass. So who do the Jays turn to?
It appears, to start the season, that junior Cole Huff will start at the 4. No one doubts his ability to score or the fact that his athleticism is a big upgrade over Hegner's. But can he be physical enough to be an upgrade on the boards? Personally I have a real concern about this but what are the Jays options? The number one option would be Hegner. Yes he doesn't have the foot speed or the aggressiveness that most would like. But he does have the ability to stretch the floor and bring a larger opposing 4 out away from the basket, which could allow the more athletic wings to get some boards.
With Huff being an option at the 3 spot as well, another choice would be freshman Martin Krampelj. He has shown some athleticism and strength so far in practice. But can this translate to the games? By the stats he appeared to struggle in the Missouri scrimmage. A very small sample size for sure but as we well know freshman can be very inconsistent.
Up next: Question 3-5.