2016-2017 Tiger Basketball Season Preview
The Tiger Basketball program is coming off of a historic season, one that fell just short of reaching the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena. It was also a season where point guard Connor McKim single-handedly rejuvenated the program and brought a flair that gave hope to the whole community of St.X. With McKim lost to graduation, Coach Kevin Klein will have some work to do with a team that is mostly inexperienced, but excited to fill the shoes that last year’s team left.
AT A GLANCE
Head Coach: Kevin Klein
2015-2016 Record: 22-10
PG Connor McKim
SG William Olsen
SF Billy Basham
At the center position, junior Pierce Kiesler returns to the 2016-2017 Tiger Basketball team as the leading scorer and rebounder. He is a bruiser and more of your back-to-the-basket kind of player and like last year he will get most of his points on second chance opportunities. Kiesler did show some ability to hit some mid-range shots on occasion, but ultimately is bread and butter is going to be wearing people down in the post.
Tyler Barnes looks to vie for more playing time at Power Forward this year. Standing at 6’8″, the lanky senior has been generating some college interest from some Ivy League schools. He played in a limited role last year, often providing a spark off the bench. Barnes is a hustler and has the ability to spread the floor. What sets him apart though is his awareness to fill passing lanes and get steals.
Evan Walker is the other returning starter from last year’s squad along with Kiesler. As a sophomore, Walker was a good rebounder and overall consistent player. At times, he would seemed a little tentative to shoot with other scoring options on the floor, but he definitely has the talent to become the Tigers’ leading scorer this year. At 6’4″, he is smaller than Barnes, which may see him play more at small forward, but his ability to body up bigger guys gives him the ability to rotate between the 3 and 4.
With Connor McKim gone, the point guard position is a wide open race. In preseason action, the duties have been relegated to freshman James Taylor. Taylor has been the starting cornerback for the freshman Football Team and helped lead them to a 10-0 record. Just now getting into basketball mode, Taylor has a knack for scoring off of jumpers, has terrific vision, and is a great ball handler. Also fighting for time will be junior Cameron McDonogh. McDonogh has more experience in Coach Klein’s system which will help his cause. He plays similar to Taylor, and an extra two years in Coach Klein’s system will help his cause.
At shooting guard, senior Paul Oberst looks to lead the charge. He looks to be one of the better all-around players for the Tigers this year. He is a gritty defender and can get to the basket with relative ease. Look for Oberst to take the leadership role for the team as well this year. Jack Koch on the other hand looks to come in off the bench as the team’s best shooter. He is the smallest member of an abnormally tall team for the Tigers this year, but definitely has the sweetest stroke.
To round out the backcourt, senior Chase Westenhofer is going to be the one to watch to make acrobatic plays all year. By far the most athletic player on the team, look for him make his mark felt in transition and if you’re in his way, you might find yourself on a poster.
The team played well against top-ranked Bowling Green in a scrimmage this preseason, however, with so many new players getting minutes, the 2016-2017 squad still has some work to do. Overall the team is excited and hungry to back up last years historic season, and ultimately have the potential to take a shot at Rupp.