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Thread: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

  1. #41
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by Columbuseer View Post
    Agree with your optimism. Each wlu player brings something to the table and all seem to be strong fundamentally and are unselfish. I don't envy the task of determining the rotations after the first 3 or 4 guys. Here are some of the unknowns that I look forward to seeing play out:
    1. Who has a Keene Cockburn like breakout year? He went from a backup player to dominant shot blocker his senior year.
    2. Who takes over the Hester role of smart, gritty rebounder who got rebounds because he wanted to rebound more than opponent?
    3. I saw Zac k show flashes of deadly 3 pt shooting. If he works on getting lower center of gravity in defensive stance and footwork, he may be able to eliminate fouls that limit his minutes.
    4. Can Dennis improve 3 pt shot? Not that he is bad but sometimes he needs a little more arc and rotation on 3s and foul shots.
    5. Monterosa is very intriguing. He is great at wr. His high school videos are impressive. Anyone know if he is practicing basketball during football season? Wonder how long it will take him to shake off the rust?
    6. Brandon Smith - one of best % 3 pt shooters. Anxious to see him again on the court.


    Could be very interesting year.
    All good questions. As I see it:

    1 and 2. Meininger. Probably not as productive as either because I don't see him being a starter, but when he is in I think he will be very productive as a shot blocker and rebounder.
    3. I'm not sold that he is a starter. Started the first 17 games last year and was moved to the bench. I'd like to project him as the principle front court back up due to his height but that doesn't seem to be his game. He could fill the Hester role.
    4. Biggest improvement in a college player is usually between their true freshman and second year. He didn't have a lot to improve on but the two you ID'ed are at the top of this very short list.
    5. Yes...very intriguing. Read somewhere that he averaged over 20 points per game in each of his four HS years and was All-Ohio for three years. He has the chops. Is he practicing and will he be rusty? Don't know and YES! But given how WLU football has tanked, he will have plenty of opportunity to nock the rust off in early season games before the MEC season truly begins not to mention the NCAA Tourney.
    6. Folks are high on him and I tend to agree. From what I can remember of him the year before last, he had some ability...enough for me to say, hummm, I want to see a bit more of him.

    The biggest unknown for this year is replacing the production of Bonifant. I think we have a few options for that and will use the early season to figure out the best. MIGHT cost us a game or two but I think down the stretch and into the NCAA, we will be just fine. My real concern is the years after this one as we get small really quickly. I hope and trust that will be addressed next off season but I would have preferred having WLU's version of a big on the team this year and getting him some playing time/experience before he is thrust in the starting rotation next year.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Great message board banter...

    I agree, Boat, next year doesn't look like a top 10 year from here...but I imagine EVERY year, we worry about losing production and how will it be replaced, but for the last 6-7 years, it's always been replaced, and seems like they figure it out..Lost Falk one year, and Harris steps up as AA. Lose Hester one year, how to replace him and did..Next year could be thin...but we may be talking about 6 double digit scorers returning next year, so who knows...All I know is they are set pretty well for years to come..maybe not championship game-set, but in the running for hosting regional

    but this year, I think they're gonna be really solid...

    Agree with a lot of what you guys say...Brandon Smith will come out of woodwork...I like what I read about the FR Clay and Dalton...that sounds good...I think Monteroso will be a stud. And add that to the nucleus of Hoehn, Grossenbacher, and Dennis...Deep deep team.

    I tend to think that Zak Kirkbride may go down as the most "unlike-Hilltopper" player in sometime (that plays)...Not a great shooter, can't create his own shot, is defense first. and not terribly fluid...but he plays bc he is long, can defend, and gets some boards...

    My call on a player exceeding expectations this year is Evan French...And actually, he's a jr already, so it's do or die time for him now..Came in with a nice pedigree, but honestly, all the hilltoppers have a great pedigree, but we'll see if he can produce...

    Anyone have any intel on how scrimmage vs Ashland went?

  3. #43

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    The WL vs West Chester game next weekend is going to be a good one. WCU returns a lot and added two very intriguing post transfers.

    That's a very interesting non-conference match-up. I get the vibe WCU is going to be pretty good this year.

  4. #44

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Really surprised we didn't get a big either,that's the only issue I see with this team. I'm sure they'll find one for next year they almost have to there's no choice even for d2 you need that 6'8ish big. Grossenbacher was a solid pickup one of my favorite players

  5. #45

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    I think one of the key components of the wlu offense is that everyone is a good to outstanding three point shooter. Their spread offense draws the opponent's big man out which mitigates rebounding advantage of opponent.

    It is hard to find a 6-8 guy who can run and shoot the 3 as they are in high demand in d1. Zac g. Is a rare player.

    I don't see it as a major problem until the following conditions are met:
    1. Wlu faces a dominating big man.
    2. Wlu is stone cold from 3 pt range.
    3. When wlu sags to make opponent's big to pick up the dribble early he passes to a hot 3 pt shooter who makes wlu pay.

    These conditions are often met deep in tournament such as 2nd game in 2 days. (Lincoln memorial comes to mind).


    In absence of a big guy a 6-5 guy with long arms and hops can contest shots. Marlon Moore appears to fit that bill.

    I agree with you that a big greatly increases chances for the ultimate prize. I hope we get one. Might have to get d1 transfer.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    WLU can get through most seasons and probably through the region without a big but were it really effects us is in the elite 8. Here you are usually facing teams that have really really good bigs that can dominate the game if you don't have a player who can challenge them. To overcome that our shooters have to be hot...have an average or just a tick cold shooting game and you have a real chance of losing. I think Crutch's only weakness is not recruiting for a NC. Not talking about bring in a big that is going to be a starter here, just one that is going to sit at the end of the bench and be ready for those one or two situations during a season were your shooters are cold and the other team has a big that's killing you inside. WLU has plenty of blow out games during a season were this big could get serious minutes...Heck, quite a few games were he could play almost the entire second half.

  7. #47

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by boatcapt View Post
    WLU can get through most seasons and probably through the region without a big but were it really effects us is in the elite 8. Here you are usually facing teams that have really really good bigs that can dominate the game if you don't have a player who can challenge them. To overcome that our shooters have to be hot...have an average or just a tick cold shooting game and you have a real chance of losing. I think Crutch's only weakness is not recruiting for a NC. Not talking about bring in a big that is going to be a starter here, just one that is going to sit at the end of the bench and be ready for those one or two situations during a season were your shooters are cold and the other team has a big that's killing you inside. WLU has plenty of blow out games during a season were this big could get serious minutes...Heck, quite a few games were he could play almost the entire second half.
    Everything I've ever seen from WLU (to be clear, I've probably only watched 5-6 complete games over the past couple of years) seems to indicate that a genuine big man like you're describing really wouldn't fit in very well to the WLU system in its current iteration. At most, I see you guys being able to work with a 6'7"-ish stretch-4 big man who can shoot it (which is what I think Crutchfield has generally had in the past), but I don't know if a more traditional ground-and-pound big man like you're describing would at all fit into anything I've seen Crutchfield run offensively. It makes me think of a big man like Zach Randolph being tossed into the middle of last year's Golden State Warriors offense. Seems like a player like him would've just clunked things up, even if the Warriors were going against a team with strong big men.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, wouldn't it end up disrupting what works for you guys even if you do go up against a good big man or two in the Elite Eight? Would the unnatural adjustment to your offense do more negatively than the addition of a traditional big man would do positively?

    Also, if you're following your plan/suggestion (of not necessarily making him a big-time starter or key player, but instead bringing him in for a specific situation or against specific teams), how is that guy going to realistically be able to do anything against Elite Eight-caliber big men on other teams? What person who is able to hold his own against—or possibly even excel above—Elite Eight-level bigs is going to sit the bench for an entire season except for certain blowout game minutes or a potential game or two at the end of the year? Seems like an unrealistic expectation in that regard. So if all Crutchfield ends up doing is throwing a mediocre big in against National Championship-caliber big men, that kid is most likely going to get gobbled up anyway and WLU's offense will potentially be out of whack.

    Sorry. The more I wrote, the more I found myself debating the idea back and forth in my mind, so I ended up writing a little more than I initially intended. It's a really interesting topic of conversation.

  8. #48

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Valid point. Good 'bigs' are hard to find in D2 ... let alone ones willing to play mop-up minutes all season.

    I actually think WL would benefit more from a 'goon' type big man. They are easier to find. Say, that 6'8, 250 pound power forward type who just likes to bang and can grab some boards, give/draw fouls and play about 10 minutes a game.

    You're typical big oaf type center would get run ragged trying to run up and down the court in the all-offense MEC -- especially in the WL offense. They'd be utterly ineffective and need an oxygen mask.

    By and large I think D2 is going to a more up-tempo style. The PSAC West is lost in time but most leagues seem to be shifting away from the 1980s-style typical big men.

    On the nights you do run in to a truly legit big-man lineup ... the speed offsets the size. They have to chase you guys around all night and get wore down fast. You guys saw that last year when Clarion came down. That game was very close until there were about 10 minutes left. They just ran out of gas.

    Other than adding maybe that deep bench goon-type I wouldn't change much. You guys have been a few more made treys from having won a NC.

  9. #49

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by MrAugustana View Post
    Everything I've ever seen from WLU (to be clear, I've probably only watched 5-6 complete games over the past couple of years) seems to indicate that a genuine big man like you're describing really wouldn't fit in very well to the WLU system in its current iteration. At most, I see you guys being able to work with a 6'7"-ish stretch-4 big man who can shoot it (which is what I think Crutchfield has generally had in the past), but I don't know if a more traditional ground-and-pound big man like you're describing would at all fit into anything I've seen Crutchfield run offensively. It makes me think of a big man like Zach Randolph being tossed into the middle of last year's Golden State Warriors offense. Seems like a player like him would've just clunked things up, even if the Warriors were going against a team with strong big men.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, wouldn't it end up disrupting what works for you guys even if you do go up against a good big man or two in the Elite Eight? Would the unnatural adjustment to your offense do more negatively than the addition of a traditional big man would do positively?

    Also, if you're following your plan/suggestion (of not necessarily making him a big-time starter or key player, but instead bringing him in for a specific situation or against specific teams), how is that guy going to realistically be able to do anything against Elite Eight-caliber big men on other teams? What person who is able to hold his own against—or possibly even excel above—Elite Eight-level bigs is going to sit the bench for an entire season except for certain blowout game minutes or a potential game or two at the end of the year? Seems like an unrealistic expectation in that regard. So if all Crutchfield ends up doing is throwing a mediocre big in against National Championship-caliber big men, that kid is most likely going to get gobbled up anyway and WLU's offense will potentially be out of whack.

    Sorry. The more I wrote, the more I found myself debating the idea back and forth in my mind, so I ended up writing a little more than I initially intended. It's a really interesting topic of conversation.
    I tend to agree with your assessment. BTW, congratulations on your national title in 2016 and beating Iowa in Exhibition last year. I really liked your team.
    I think the interchangeability of players is a key advantage for wlu. I am impressed by how seamless the play is, regardless of the combination of players on the floor.
    I agree that a 6-7 shooting guard type is a better fit from a continuity perspective. In the elite 8, Lincoln Memorial had 2 bigs and they were also shooting lights out from 3, much higher than their average.
    I agree with you - anyone who is sitting the bench is not going to be competitive with an elite big.

    The WLU offensive strategy does mitigate the impact of a big.
    1. The spread offense - creates open lanes to the boards for offensive rebounding. I recall Bill Russell, the great Celtic, saying that 90% of rebounds are taken below the rim. So the key is position.
    2. The rapid team ball movement and player movement forces bigs to move, which makes it harder for them to use weight and size to box us off the boards.
    3. On defense, a key component to stopping bigs is to prevent the great entry pass - the constant pressure and harassment by WLU puts pressure on the opponent's guards which increases the complexity of the entry pass. It also increases turnovers, which reduces opportunities for their bigs to touch the ball.
    4. Many bigs (in fact many players) are creatures of habit and patterns. Disrupt their pattern and their effectiveness decreases. For example, they get the ball, go into their post move with 3 or 4 dribbles to jostle for position, pivot, fake and shoot. If a sagging player makes them pick up the ball after 1 dribble, then their pattern is disrupted and increases their stress for they are not in their familiar position relative to the defender and the basket.

    I think every system has strengths and weaknesses. Although I agree with everyone's assessment that you will run into elite bigs in a deep NCAA run, I consider that an acceptable tradeoff, just like giving up layups occasionally from the WLU press. Over the course of the entire game, the WLU style is tilting the odds in its favor, especially with the toll that the physical and mental fatigue of playing WLU is considered. That said, I would love to have 1 or even 2 Zac G.s on the team every year!

    Great discussion!

  10. #50

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    We really just need at least a 6'6 shooting forward type guy who can hit 3's I wouldn't want someone smaller than that it'll come back to haunt us eventually I'm sure crutch has something in his back pocket

  11. #51

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by Columbuseer View Post
    I tend to agree with your assessment. BTW, congratulations on your national title in 2016 and beating Iowa in Exhibition last year. I really liked your team.
    I think the interchangeability of players is a key advantage for wlu. I am impressed by how seamless the play is, regardless of the combination of players on the floor.
    I agree that a 6-7 shooting guard type is a better fit from a continuity perspective. In the elite 8, Lincoln Memorial had 2 bigs and they were also shooting lights out from 3, much higher than their average.
    I agree with you - anyone who is sitting the bench is not going to be competitive with an elite big.

    The WLU offensive strategy does mitigate the impact of a big.
    1. The spread offense - creates open lanes to the boards for offensive rebounding. I recall Bill Russell, the great Celtic, saying that 90% of rebounds are taken below the rim. So the key is position.
    2. The rapid team ball movement and player movement forces bigs to move, which makes it harder for them to use weight and size to box us off the boards.
    3. On defense, a key component to stopping bigs is to prevent the great entry pass - the constant pressure and harassment by WLU puts pressure on the opponent's guards which increases the complexity of the entry pass. It also increases turnovers, which reduces opportunities for their bigs to touch the ball.
    4. Many bigs (in fact many players) are creatures of habit and patterns. Disrupt their pattern and their effectiveness decreases. For example, they get the ball, go into their post move with 3 or 4 dribbles to jostle for position, pivot, fake and shoot. If a sagging player makes them pick up the ball after 1 dribble, then their pattern is disrupted and increases their stress for they are not in their familiar position relative to the defender and the basket.

    I think every system has strengths and weaknesses. Although I agree with everyone's assessment that you will run into elite bigs in a deep NCAA run, I consider that an acceptable tradeoff, just like giving up layups occasionally from the WLU press. Over the course of the entire game, the WLU style is tilting the odds in its favor, especially with the toll that the physical and mental fatigue of playing WLU is considered. That said, I would love to have 1 or even 2 Zac G.s on the team every year!

    Great discussion!
    Thanks. Of course, I didn't do much more than cheer at games and occasionally constructively criticize a ref or two from the stands. :)

    It's been a fun couple of years with this team. Now we get to go get our teeth kicked in by Duke tomorrow night.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
    Valid point. Good 'bigs' are hard to find in D2 ... let alone ones willing to play mop-up minutes all season.

    I actually think WL would benefit more from a 'goon' type big man. They are easier to find. Say, that 6'8, 250 pound power forward type who just likes to bang and can grab some boards, give/draw fouls and play about 10 minutes a game.

    You're typical big oaf type center would get run ragged trying to run up and down the court in the all-offense MEC -- especially in the WL offense. They'd be utterly ineffective and need an oxygen mask.

    By and large I think D2 is going to a more up-tempo style. The PSAC West is lost in time but most leagues seem to be shifting away from the 1980s-style typical big men.

    On the nights you do run in to a truly legit big-man lineup ... the speed offsets the size. They have to chase you guys around all night and get wore down fast. You guys saw that last year when Clarion came down. That game was very close until there were about 10 minutes left. They just ran out of gas.

    Other than adding maybe that deep bench goon-type I wouldn't change much. You guys have been a few more made treys from having won a NC.
    I think you can find a legit big man to fit this bill. What I'm talking about is someone in the 6'8"-10" range who can run. Weather he can shoot outside is in material. I said in a previous thread that has been deleted that shooting from farther than 10 feet from the basket should be a complete foreign concept to this cat. This guy should be a defensive specialist with just enough of an inside offensive game to keep the opposing big "honest." Guy like this would get plenty of opportunities to play in the early and mid part of the season when WLU is often up by 30+ points. While I don't think there are a million of these guys out there, I likewise don't think they are as rare as hens teeth. While we aren't talking about a 30 win D1 program at WLU, we are talking about a national power DII that consistently makes final 4 playoff runs. I would imagine that Crutch and company should be able to entice at least one shooting deficient big to come to a winning program such as ours.

    Heck, just looking at Polk Colleges roster from last season they had a sophomore who was listed as a 6'7", 230 Center/Forward who doesn't appear to have gotten a scholly from any D1 or DII. Strengths are listed as "Strong and long low post player, solid rebounder, good interior defender who can handle bigger opponents, can run the floor, catch, make a move and finish." He was 0-1 from 3 point range. This guy would have been just what WLU needed on those few nights when our opponents big is eating us up inside and we are having a cold shooting night. But instead this cat has probably taken his Polk College Associates degree to the local AT&T Store in Miami and is selling iPhones.
    Last edited by boatcapt; 11-04-2016 at 10:05 AM.

  13. #53

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    I get it. I've wanted the same thing for years. Joe and Crutch just don't seem to want those guys.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
    I get it. I've wanted the same thing for years. Joe and Crutch just don't seem to want those guys.
    And I think that is what's holding WLU back. A team that REALLY competes for a NC is probably going to be well rounded. Yea, they may favor a certain style but they ALSO have a degree of capability to play a different style if forced into it. When WLU is playing their game, they can beat anyone in the nation. Most nights they are playing their game and cruise to big W's. But every now and them, they run into an opponent who can push them out of their game OR they are stone cold. The lack of any ability to play any other style makes our ability to win on those rare nights iffy at best.

    Hey, maybe we stay hot throughout the NCAA tourney this year and get that illusive NC. If we do I'll say good on you Crutch. You stuck to your guns and did it your way!

  15. #55

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Good discussion. I think a wlu stat major might have a good project with following hypothesis:
    Does the interval between games affect wlu 3 pt shooting both as a team and individually?

    Focus might be on 2 games in 2 days or 3 games in 4 days.
    My observation may be statistically invalid or biased but I seem to remember that stone cold shooting often happens in 2nd game in 2 days. What do others think?

    On another topic I looked at team photo on website. Looks like some have really been hitting the weights. Zac g, Smith, meininger and Bolon come to mind. Do u concur?

  16. #56

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Columbusser:

    You will fit right in to the Church with questions like the above one.

  17. #57
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
    Columbusser:

    You will fit right in to the Church with questions like the above one.
    IUP Big...The Church of Crutch is always seeking new members....Columbuseer will be a good one!

  18. #58
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    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Quote Originally Posted by IUPbigINDIANS View Post
    Columbusser:

    You will fit right in to the Church with questions like the above one.
    Come on over IUPbig. We can always squeeze another in the pews! I'm sure IUP Extra Mile would scrunch over for a fellow convert to the Church of Crutch! You KNOW that you want to convert...Just do what is in your heart!!

  19. #59

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Any idea what happened with Janay Bottoms and Baylen Dyrlund from the girls team, Janay still goes to WL probably just lack of playing time and Baylen is at Malone now I thought she was pretty good. A lot of new faces for the girls but I'm impressed with the talent they brought in

  20. #60

    Default Re: West Liberty Hilltopper Basketball

    Also Evan French out for the year probably a knee injury

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