Blog Archives

#1 Connor McKim’s Senior Season

With the year coming to a close, we take time to reminisce on the past year in sports. 2016 has been filled with countless games, memories, and championships that have added to the legacy of St.X’s athletic excellence. Now, as the crystal ball counts down to midnight, WSTX Sports would like to do a countdown of our own over the next few days. Let’s countdown the Top 10 Moments in Tiger Sports for the year of 2016!

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco 

When I look back on last year’s season for Tiger Basketball, I get chills. I have never seen our school at a higher degree of camaraderie and unity than at those games last season. It was the definition of what a “Band of Brothers” looks like.

But there had to be a reason. Why was it that St.X students, of new and of old, cared so much about this team?

Look no further than Connor McKim.

McKim did so much more than play basketball at St.X. He rejuvenated the basketball program and brought life to the school. No one summarized this better than Assistant Coach Bryan Just in an article he wrote about Connor.

“The thing that makes me sick to my stomach for Connor McKim, is that he stays silent. His game is one of the loudest the seventh region has seen in a long time, but off the court, you wouldn’t have any idea what this kid is capable of. I’m really sorry if you are just now learning about the talent this St. X student brought to the basketball court. And since McKim didn’t get the full recognition he earned over the past three months, I’m doing my own article on him now.

Meet Connor McKim. A “silent assassin”. A guy that doesn’t need the spotlight. An absolute pleasure to watch if you’re a fan of the player that truly let’s his game do the talking. McKim doesn’t talk trash. He doesn’t really talk at all. But for his teammates that have been playing with him for four years, he’s a leader through action, an ideal teammate, and a best friend. I got the unbelievable opportunity to coach Connor for 2 years, and I wouldn’t feel right leaving this out. Connor deserves everything positive this game has to offer. I received countless texts from him, late at night on the weekend, asking questions about film and scouting. He’s the definition of a student of the game. He is passionate. He’s mature beyond his age. He does everything that will never show up in the score book while the lights are off, and delivers every time the lights come on. He doesn’t boast or brag when he plays well, and he doesn’t hang his head or sulk when he’s playing bad. He’s just solid. He’s tough. He’s a coach’s dream.

While you may have been keeping up with other teams in the 6th and 7th region, Connor was leading St. X to wins over them. Down went #3 Trinity, #6 Bullitt East, #13 Ballard, #12 Fern Creek, and #8 Male (with McKim scoring 31, 26, 19, 36 and 34 respectively in those games). In the 20 games played in 2016, he averaged 27.7 ppg, and scored 30 or more in the last four games of his high school career. In this season alone, #5 accounted for 788 total points, 75 made threes, and 199 made free throws. His efficiency was off the charts. He finished the season shooting 50% from the field, 41% from deep, and 84% from the stripe. He is the first St. X Regional Player of the Year since 1970, and ended up 14th in the state in scoring. If you get bored, go compare stats and wins he had this year to the other Mr. Basketball candidates. And if you find out how this kid didn’t make any of those lists, let me know, because I still can’t figure it out. Connor McKim had a very special senior year, and it didn’t take a basketball guru to notice.

Lastly, what Connor McKim did this season was bigger than a game. He was a leader on the team that restored belief in St. X basketball. He brought excitement, electricity, and hype into this program. He brought unity to both current and past students, as well as anyone surrounding the school or program. “He will never even realize how many people he impacted this year,” said Coach Keven Klein. Connor, you did something that most people won’t even realize until years from now. You did it without the hype or recognition you deserved, but I’m thinking you might have actually preferred it that way. On behalf of the thousands of people that got to watch you this year, thank you for taking me on that ride with you”

For myself and many others, I believe I can go to say that Connor McKim’s final season for the green and gold was the Best Moment in Tiger Sports for 2016.

With that, our countdown has ended. Thank you to everyone who made 2016 such a special year.

Now, here is to the countless games, memories, and championships that 2017 will bring, and here is to a Happy New Year!

 

#5 William Olsen’s Go-Ahead 3 vs. Male

With the year coming to a close, we take time to reminisce on the past year in sports. 2016 has been filled with countless games, memories, and championships that have added to the legacy of St.X’s athletic excellence. Now, as the crystal ball counts down to midnight, WSTX Sports would like to do a countdown of our own over the next few days. Let’s countdown the Top 10 Moments in Tiger Sports for the year of 2016!

Will Olsen

Senior William Olsen

Last year’s season for Tiger Basketball had so many unforgettable moments. It’s hard to choose which ones were the best, but this moment could simply not be left out.

The Tigers’ rivalry with Male hit its peak last year. In both of their games, the outcome came down to a single pivotal shot.

The first came only a few weeks before the District Final, where Male’s Alex Cook hit a SportsCenter Top 10 buzzer beater to win the game. However, the Bulldogs would not get the last laugh.

Fast-forward to the District Final, and Male is leading by six points with less than 2:30 to go. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run to take the lead, but the game ultimately went into overtime.

Alex Cook had just hit a three to take the lead 72-71 in the final minute of overtime. Connor McKim proceeded to take the ball up the court and missed a jumpshot, but the Tigers got the offensive rebound and passed it back out to McKim. McKim found himself being double-teamed.

Cue William Olsen.

McKim passed it to Olsen on the wing. He let it go and next thing you know, the Tigers are leading 74-72 with 28.9 seconds to go.

Male made a few last ditch efforts, but could not get anything going and the Tigers won 75-72.

 

#9 Tiger Basketball’s Regular Season Win Over Trinity

With the year coming to a close, we take time to reminisce on the past year in sports. 2016 has been filled with countless games, memories, and championships that have added to the legacy of St.X’s athletic excellence. Now, as the crystal ball counts down to midnight, WSTX Sports would like to do a countdown of our own over the next few days. Let’s countdown the Top 10 Moments in Tiger Sports for the year of 2016!

stx-vs-trinity-basketball

Photo by The Courier Journal

Last year’s Tiger Basketball team was one to remember and their win over third ranked Trinity in the regular season threw them into the mix of teams to watch out for.

The Tigers were down 17-8 at the end of the first quarter, but they would refuse to lay down.

Led by point guard Connor McKim, the Tigers roared back in the second half and took their first lead of the game in the third quarter. At the end of the third, both teams were tied up at 36 a piece after an Austin Brian tip in at the buzzer. That tip in gave the Tigers the momentum headed into the final quarter.

Connor McKim would finish with 13 points in the quarter, and 31 on the game. He went 11 of 12 from the free throw line in the final quarter to seal the game.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Tigers had stunned the Rocks 55-48 to get their first win in the series since 2013.

 

#10 Tiger Swimming and Diving’s 28th consecutive title

 

 

 

2016-2017 Tiger Basketball Season Preview

bball_varsity

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
Key Losses:

PG Connor McKim
SG William Olsen
SF Billy Basham

FRONTCOURT

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.

BACKCOURT

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.

OVERVIEW

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.

Go Tigers!

Etched into History: Connor McKim

Connor McKim | Photo by Jana Bollinger

Connor McKim | Photo by Jana Bollinger

“It’s something I feel like I need to go do,” Connor McKim said on going to the basketball gym. “I feel weird if I don’t.”

You would think all basketball players would love to put in the work, but it’s not that easy. It takes time, commitment and a need to better yourself when no one else is looking.

Connor McKim put in the work and because of that he became the first St. X player since 1970 to be named Region Player of the Year. Some great basketball players have walked the halls of St. X including Scott Padgett, who would go on to win a National Championship at Kentucky and play in the NBA for eight years. Padgett and every other basketball player since 1970 never achieved that award. McKim did.

As Coach Bryan Just wrote in an article to McKim, “He brought excitement, electricity, and hype into this program. He brought unity to both current and past students, as well as anyone surrounding the school or program.” He did all of that while not being the loudest or flashiest player on the court. He let his numbers speak for themselves and with that he left a mark on St. X’s rich athletic tradition. He realized that the team came before everything else and that success would only be earned through grit and sweat.

Going into his eighth grade year at St. Gabriel, McKim didn’t necessarily know where he would end up. He had spent the summer playing basketball with Male, but his dad had gone to St. X and his grandmother lived very close to St. X.

“That’s where I wanted to go,” McKim said. “I guess it’s kind of lucky that the Male thing didn’t work out, and I ended up here.”

Once McKim ended up at St. X, he didn’t really know what to expect.

“Just coming into a school that was so big basketball wise was different,” McKim said. “When you go from St. Gabriel where I was the top guy, coming in here I knew it was going to be completely different.”

Will Olsen, a senior on this year’s basketball team, has played with McKim since sixth grade. The two of them played together for Focus, an AAU team, from sixth to eighth grade year. With the two of them playing together for a couple of years before coming to St. X, that gave them an advantage when it came to their chemistry on the court.

“We’ve always meshed great,” Olsen said. “He’s the ideal teammate anyone could ask for. He can take over a game at any time and carried us to so many huge wins. His game has grown tremendously from being just a penetrator and slasher to one of the best shooters in the state. With lightning speed, he can stop on a dime and then rise up and knock down the midrange. His three point shooting has been the most improved part of his game in my eyes though.”

As a freshman, McKim didn’t expect to play, but by the end of the year he was practicing with the varsity team. The year before McKim arrived on campus, St. X had reached the regional championship, so expectations were high that year. A disappointing loss was the finale of McKim’s freshman season as St. X lost to Central in the first round of the 2013 7th Region Tournament.

“I remember sitting on the bench for that game and just being in that atmosphere for a varsity game where if you lose you go home,” McKim said. “Just seeing how crushed some of the guys were kind of put things in perspective a little bit. St. X basketball is bigger than you. It’s bigger than what you’ve been a part of, and it motivated me to never have that feeling.”

After that season, McKim sat down for his individual meetings with the coaches. One of the things brought up in those meetings was possibly changing his shot. McKim was told he was shooting flat footed and that he had an index finger that wasn’t supposed to be on the ball which was causing the ball to not have any rotation.

Changing your shot is no easy task, and it certainly wasn’t easy for McKim. He was playing AAU basketball in the summer between his freshman and sophomore year, and it was difficult.

“I was short every time,” McKim said. “I was trying to get my new shot going because jumping in the air requires some strength that I didn’t really have back then and so there were big growing pains with that. It took a while to fix.”

The shot eventually became natural for McKim, and if you watched him play at all last season, you could see the results of the change paid off. He completely fixed his shot and has been able to build on it for these past two years.

“I think it was good for me to get done with that early on,” McKim said. “It was extremely tough for me because you get so frustrated. I couldn’t hit anything while I was in the middle of changing my shot.”

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco

With his new shot rounding into form, McKim’s confidence grew. Confidence is not something easily attained but requires hard work. Coming into his senior season, his confidence was at a high. McKim expected to have a big year, but he didn’t expect this big of a year.

“Honestly, if you would have told me I would have this good of a senior season, I would have thought you were crazy,” McKim said. “Just because to do what I did consistently, looking back on it, is really tough especially in the 7th region. I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”

His senior season didn’t start off the way he wanted it to though. St. X fell to Central 52-55 at home. McKim scored only 13 points and had 10 turnovers. McKim knew the team needed better performances than that from him. A game that could have put McKim and his teammates down instead made them work harder.

“No one got down on me,” McKim said. “They were giving me things to improve my game. As the season went, I think my teammates just had more confidence in me and were willing to give me the ball in times that we needed to score. I have confidence in them and the coaches too, so I think the amount of confidence they put in me helped me go out and do what I did this year.”

With McKim’s confidence back to where it needed to be, the team flourished. St. X was 9-4 going into a highly anticipated matchup against Trinity in the regular season. McKim delivered his first of many big games against big opponents, as he went on to score 31 points and lead the Tigers to a 55-48 victory over the Shamrocks.

That would become a recurring theme, as McKim continued to put up huge numbers against highly ranked teams. St. X defeated Trinity, Bullitt East, Ballard, Fern Creek and Male with McKim scoring 31, 26, 19, 36 and 34 respectively in those games. Something about those big moments made McKim play better.

“I knew I needed to be aggressive and attack the entire game because when I’m attacking, I’m either going to score for myself or put someone else in a position to score,” McKim said. “I think that happened a lot of games where I wasn’t necessarily seeking my shot, but I was making plays that were going to help me get my shot and guys did a great job finding me in spots.”

One of the biggest games of the year was when St. X took down #6 Bullitt East on Friday night of the LIT. McKim led the Tigers with 26 points, and it was the first time St. X had made it to the LIT semifinals since finishing as the runner-up to Male in 1967.

“The LIT was a lot of fun this year with us to not have gone that far in a while,” McKim said. “For us to beat Bullitt East, who was one of the top teams in the State on that Friday night, was just so much fun in the locker room after the game. That one really sticks out to me.”

McKim would go on to lead the Tigers to a 23-10 record on the year and a trip to the 7th Region Championship. In 2016, McKim averaged 27.7 points per game and scored 30 or more in the last four games of his high school career. He scored 788 total points this year along with 75 made threes. He also finished the season shooting 50% from the field, 41% from behind the three point line and 84% from the free throw line. McKim also joined the 1,000 point club with over 1,000 points scored during his career.

McKim has been a special player to watch for Tiger fans these past four years, but his teammates have loved playing with him even more.

“Playing with him was so amazing,” Connor Knight said. “He made the game so fun and exciting by the way he plays. I got kinda spoiled playing with him because he made the game so much easier for everyone else around him.”

“It was fun playing with him because of how unselfish he is,” Alex Hulse said. “It was great watching him put on a show.”

With the way McKim’s season ended, he gained a lot of attention in the closing weeks of the year. As Coach Just put in his article, McKim is a “silent assassin”. He doesn’t look for the spotlight, but he was thrown into it. He was never the vocal leader, but he was more of a lead by example kind of guy. He let his play on the court define who he was. His teammates understand that and appreciated how he carried himself.

“He never bragged about any of his huge games or any of the games where he just took over,” Billy Basham said. “He was always the first one to come up to anyone on the team and congratulate them on a great play they made or great game they had. He gave everything he had every day he stepped on the court.”

“Most people who don’t know Connor or just watch him play see him keep the same facial expression the whole time,” Knight said. “When he is playing, he does not change it. Whether he just hit the game winning shot or just got punched in the face. But once you really get to know him and get in his little circle, he is the biggest goofball you will ever talk to. To me, he is the funniest guy on the team by far. In the locker room we look at him, and he won’t even say anything and we just die laughing. Also he is one of the people who if you need anything or need someone to talk to, you go to him. He would do anything for anybody and that’s what makes him such a great person.”

McKim will soon be making a college decision. Right now, he has five offers: Kentucky Wesleyan, Springhill, University of Charleston, Ohio Valley and Rollins. He has not taken any visits yet and will most likely wait until after Spring Break before he does. He plans on letting things play out, as he wants to see what his options are before he makes a decision on where he wants to play ball next year.

McKim won’t be a Tiger next year, but he won’t forget his time at St. X anytime soon.

“The chemistry we had this year was just unbelievable,” McKim said. “I never want to lose that feeling, and I think we’ve all kind of taken it for granted just how together this team was. That’s something I hope to feel in college as well.”

Coach Bryan Just writes about Connor McKim

Connor McKim | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Connor McKim | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The Tiger Basketball season ended Tuesday night vs. Trinity and with that it meant senior Connor McKim had played his last game in the green and gold. To say goodbye, Coach Bryan Just wrote the below passage on Twitter about Connor McKim.

“The thing that makes me sick to my stomach for Connor McKim, is that he stays silent. His game is one of the loudest the seventh region has seen in a long time, but off the court, you wouldn’t have any idea what this kid is capable of. I’m really sorry if you are just now learning about the talent this St. X student brought to the basketball court. And since McKim didn’t get the full recognition he earned over the past three months, I’m doing my own article on him now.

Meet Connor McKim. A “silent assassin”. A guy that doesn’t need the spotlight. An absolute pleasure to watch if you’re a fan of the player that truly let’s his game do the talking. McKim doesn’t talk trash. He doesn’t really talk at all. But for his teammates that have been playing with him for four years, he’s a leader through action, an ideal teammate, and a best friend. I got the unbelievable opportunity to coach Connor for 2 years, and I wouldn’t feel right leaving this out. Connor deserves everything positive this game has to offer. I received countless texts from him, late at night on the weekend, asking questions about film and scouting. He’s the definition of a student of the game. He is passionate. He’s mature beyond his age. He does everything that will never show up in the score book while the lights are off, and delivers every time the lights come on. He doesn’t boast or brag when he plays well, and he doesn’t hang his head or sulk when he’s playing bad. He’s just solid. He’s tough. He’s a coach’s dream.

While you may have been keeping up with other teams in the 6th and 7th region, Connor was leading St. X to wins over them. Down went #3 Trinity, #6 Bullitt East, #13 Ballard, #12 Fern Creek, and #8 Male (with McKim scoring 31, 26, 19, 36 and 34 respectively in those games). In the 20 games played in 2016, he averaged 27.7 ppg, and scored 30 or more in the last four games of his high school career. In this season alone, #5 accounted for 788 total points, 75 made threes, and 199 made free throws. His efficiency was off the charts. He finished the season shooting 50% from the field, 41% from deep, and 84% from the stripe. He is the first St. X Regional Player of the Year since 1970, and ended up 14th in the state in scoring. If you get bored, go compare stats and wins he had this year to the other Mr. Basketball candidates. And if you find out how this kid didn’t make any of those lists, let me know, because I still can’t figure it out. Connor McKim had a very special senior year, and it didn’t take a basketball guru to notice.

Lastly, what Connor McKim did this season was bigger than a game. He was a leader on the team that restored belief in St. X basketball. He brought excitement, electricity, and hype into this program. He brought unity to both current and past students, as well as anyone surrounding the school or program. “He will never even realize how many people he impacted this year,” said Coach Keven Klein. Connor, you did something that most people won’t even realize until years from now. You did it without the hype or recognition you deserved, but I’m thinking you might have actually preferred it that way. On behalf of the thousands of people that got to watch you this year, thank you for taking me on that ride with you”

Thank you Connor!

Connor McKim joins the 1,000 point club in win over Waggener

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco

Connor McKim | Photo by Tim Porco

Senior point guard Connor McKim joined the 1,000 point club in the win over Waggener in the first round of the 7th Region Tournament. McKim’s 34 points tonight takes him to 1,009 career points.

“It’s something to top off the great senior year we have had as a team,” McKim said. “I couldn’t do any of that without guys finding me in the right spots, and I’m just very appreciative how this program is and how it is run by Coach Klein and everybody. I’m just happy to get this win.”

Congrats Connor!

VIDEO: Tiger Basketball Senior Connor McKim releases new Highlights

Tiger Basketball Senior Connor McKim had an impressive AAU Season this past summer, and you can watch the highlights from it above.

Only 93 days ’til tip off!

The Rematch: Offensive Keys

 

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

Last Friday night, one team showed the state that it could hang with anybody. St. X gave the number one team in Kentucky everything it had and nearly knocked it off in Broadbent Arena. But in the end, it was Trinity that defeated the Tigers by a final line of 57-47. So with a rematch coming tomorrow, what can the Tigers do better on the offensive end? Lets take a deeper look at the ups and downs of the offense against its heated rival last week.

By no means am I a coach, nor do I know the personnel of the team as well as Coach Klein does, but there are some tweaks that can be made to the offense to put the team in a better position to win against heavyweights such as Trinity.

The Tigers came out firing in the first half, but shots were not falling for everybody. On a night where the defense shined brighter, the offense could have been on the same level had a few things not happened. Firstly, it is difficult to commit 8 turnovers and be in the game at halftime without playing stellar defense. Luckily, that’s exactly what the Tigers did and found themselves ahead by four at the break.

But besides the turnovers, the St. X offense relied heavily on one player. Ashanti Burgess was hotter than he’s ever been in the first half, and the Tigers kept going to him. That’s perfectly fine, but if no one else steps up to take a scoring role, it is eventually going to wear on Burgess and subsequently, the rest of the team. And that’s exactly what happened. Burgess shot a wildly impressive 71.4% from the field in the first half (58.3% for the game) and made 4-6 three pointers. None of those stats are undesirable, and he was the only bright spot for the Tigers offensively all night. If there are any bones to pick with his performance, it’s going 2-7 from the free throw line. But overall, you couldn’t ask for a much better game from the senior sharpshooter.

What you can ask for, however, is for someone else to step up and lighten the load for Burgess on offense. Lucas Miller was tasked with guarding Raymond Spalding, and having to guard an opponent seven inches taller than you is guaranteed to be physically taxing. With a fatigued Miller, St. X was down a primary scorer on the offensive end. That meant that someone needed to step up and score in the second half to help relieve Burgess. The Tigers only mustered 9 points in the third quarter and it was clear that Burgess was slowing down. He scored his final 5 points of the game in that quarter until the defense caught on to him and shut him down in the fourth quarter.

With Miller and Burgess both seemingly out of offensive gas, one would look to a Connor McKim or a C.J. Shanklin to get some buckets when the Tigers needed them most. Shanklin struggled with the defense from Spalding and often times found himself getting trapped after trying to dribble and get to the rack like he is accustomed to doing. Give the Trinity defense credit though, as they were suffocating in the paint. In the end, 8 points was simply not enough from the senior forward. I expect him to relax and find his shot a lot more easily in the rematch.

McKim had an off night, going 2-4  from the floor, 0-2 from behind the line and uncharacteristically not earning a trip to the charity stripe. I expect to see a lot more of the junior point guard in the rematch because of his pure ability to get to the basket and create. Every good player has bad outings.

Besides those key elements, the offense was not too terribly different than it has been all season. Like I said before, I don’t know if the Tigers could have played more inspired basketball on Friday night.

As for some more subtle tweaks, I look to the floor generals. Both McKim and Josh Rudy need to help communicate to their teammates to move without the ball. Basic ball screens, cutting and flashing, and sealing off the pick on a pick-and-roll situation can pay big dividends in finding easy buckets. It’s the fundamentals of motion without the basketball that the Tigers slipped up on a few occasions. Those mistakes are understandable on the big stage, but in the rematch, I would expect to see fine-tuned and clean offense from the Tigers.

Here are some stats that can be improved upon in my opinion:

– 6-14 from the free throw line as a team (43%)

-17 total turnovers

– only one player in double digits (Burgess, 20)

While those stats exist, there are some very encouraging stats for the Tigers to remember at the same time:

– 9-17 from 3pt. range (53%)

-Miller still managed to find 9 points on limited shooting

– 10 total assists

If the Tigers can replicate what they did on defense and make some minor adjustments to the offense, Kentucky’s number one team could very well taste defeat on Wednesday when these two squads are pitted against each other for the second time in less than a week.

Go Tigers. Beat the Rocks.

 

St. X vs Trinity – Positional Breakdowns: Bench

Billy Basham has an opportunity to affect the game with his relentless energy on both ends of the floor. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Billy Basham has an opportunity to affect the game with his relentless energy on both ends of the floor. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

There is no denying that the both team’s benches are huge facets of this ball game. And none of these guys are benchwarmers. They are all ballers and affect the game in big ways when called upon. Let’s take a look at how these second unit guys will influence the game.

St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #15 Nick Kitchen- 6’3″| 180 lbs.| Senior

– #5 Connor McKim- 6’2″| 162 lbs.| Junior

– #22 Billy Basham- 6’2″| 185 lbs. | Junior

-#4 Connor Knight- 6’0″| 171 lbs.| Junior

St. Xavier Overview

As I mentioned in the guards breakdown, McKim is a big time player and can take over at any time. Coach Klein toggles back and forth between Josh Rudy and McKim as starting point guards, so McKim is essentially the sixth man if he’s not starting. But the real sixth man, usually first off the bench, is senior forward Nick Kitchen. Able to play the 3 or the 4, Kitchen’s versatility gives the Tigers a much needed boost. Although it may not always be a visible impact, Kitchen is a true grinder who plays with grit and veteran savvy. He scraps in the low post so hard that you wouldn’t notice he’s undersized as a power forward.

Billy Basham is usually a big energy boost for the Tigers off the bench. Although his playing time fluctuates, Basham is a reliable cog in the Tiger offense and a huge defensive asset. A big time bonus that Basham can bring to the game is he can rip off a scoring streak in an instant. Set up by his intense defense, Basham’s offensive game is one to admire because he is extremely creative in the way he gets his points. Coach Klein may go to Basham early on in Friday night’s contest if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing from the usual rotation of forwards.

Third string court orchestrator Connor Knight doesn’t get the credit he deserves. While he doesn’t log big time minutes, Knight is an elite passer and dribbler who tries to mediate pressure and game flow when he is in the game.

 

 

D'Angelo West can fill it up in a hurry coming off the bench for the Rocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

D’Angelo West can fill it up in a hurry coming off the bench for the Rocks. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

 

Trinity Depth Chart

-#1 D’Angelo West | Senior | PG

-#10 Jay Murphy | Senior | PG/SG

-#20 Gabe Schmitt | Junior | SG

-#22 Isiah Knight | Junior | PG/SG

Trinity Overview

Trinity’s bench can be summarized by one word: dangerous.  There are handful of guys at one or two positions, but there is firepower beginning the game on the pine for Trinity, and that does not bode well for St. X.

Trinity’s second unit starts with D’Angelo West.  The lefty-swingman is that “heat-check” guy who can completely change games by himself, much like Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and J.R. Smith for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

West loves to drive and finish inside, but he is a more-than capable outside shooter as well.  He is a complete package on offense who averaged over 20 points per game last season playing in Mississippi.  St. X needs to keep an eye out for number 1 in green and white when he enters the game.  You could make a sound argument that Trinity’s best offensive player comes off the bench.

Senior Shamrock guard Jay Murphy is another lights-out shooter who can affect games with his distributing ability.  Trinity’s offense often looks more smooth and fluid when Murphy checks in.

Murphy is another player who values his time on the court, evidenced by his demeanor.

“Coming off the bench is never seen generally seen as a good thing, but with the quality of players we have have, it’s remarkable I even get to play the minutes I do,” Murphy explained.  “For me, being a part of this team and having a chance to help us win a state title is worth it.”

Again, a player who will be playing in college puts the team in front of himself.  It doesn’t always seem like chemistry is a big thing with Trinity on the court, but when you talk to the guys, you realize why they are so good: They recognize their roles and don’t attempt to change them.

St. X also can’t forget about Gabe Schmitt.  With all the senior-laden talent on this Shamrock team, this junior doesn’t get noticed a lot.  But Schmitt can flat-out score, and if he is ignored, he could very well contribute a performance off the bench that dooms the Tigers.

Trinity has a lot of talent, so some of it gets pushed to the bench.  Unfortunately for St. X, they won’t be guarding anyone of substantially less talent when the Shamrock subs come in, and that could spell trouble for the Tigers.

St. X vs. Trinity – Positional Breakdowns: Guards

Connor McKim will have a significant influence on this rivalry game. | Photo by Jaocb Hayslip

Connor McKim will have a significant influence on this rivalry game. | Photo by Jaocb Hayslip

Perhaps the most important figure on the basketball court is the point guard. He is the orchestrator, the quarterback of the offense and makes the game pulsate. His backcourt running mate, the shooting guard, can provide a very relieving source of scoring via quick shooting or movement without the ball to help the flow of the game in a major way. Well, we have some great guards in this big time rivalry game Friday night at Broadbent Arena, and none of them will shy away from the big stage. It is almost guaranteed that these well-defined roles of point guard and shooting guard will be swapped for roles that entail just flat-out competing.

 St. Xavier Depth Chart

– #5 Connor McKim- 6’2″ |162 lbs.| Junior

– #21 Josh Rudy- 6’1″|185 lbs.| Senior

– #11 Ashanti Burgess- 6’1″|175 lbs.| Senior

– #4 Connor Knight- 6’0″| 171 lbs.| Junior

St. Xavier Overview

This Tiger backcourt is as exciting as it has been in years past and is headlined by some exciting juniors and savvy veterans. Senior combo guard Josh Rudy is a seasoned three year bench player who has finally had his chance to take control of the offense this year. Known for driving the lane and finding his teammates, Rudy can take over a game without the crowd even noticing because he never wants the spotlight. By creating off the dribble and seeing the court well at all times, he knows where to find the open man and set up the Tigers for the best shot available. Points are a secondary concern for Rudy; his game is predicated on smart decisions and good passing.

Connor McKim, on the other hand, is a scoring combo guard. While he is a truer point guard, McKim will look for his shot when it’s available or when he’s hot. His quickness is such a big part of his game as it contributes to his abilities to slash and drive the lane to find a floater for himself or to drop it off down low to big men or scoring threat Lucas Miller. McKim’s ball handling skills are sharp and clean, allowing him to play comfortably and shiftily get to the rack.

Senior Ashanti Burgess is a pure shooting guard who won’t pass up an open shot and has a smooth stroke. When he’s on, he’s on. Burgess went for a season-high 25 points against Paul Laurence Dunbar on December 18th in a 97-84 Tigers win. Burgess has a tendency to get into foul trouble when his game is not coming to him, but he can put good pressure as an on-ball defender. Rudy and McKim are no slouches on the defensive end either, as they both average over one steal per game and have come up with 43 so far this season. Oh, and one other thing: these guys don’t turn the ball over often. All three of them have positive assist/turnover ratios. This unit is hard to crack.

 

Senior Shamrock Michael Stafford anchors Trinity's guards. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Senior Shamrock Michael Stafford anchors Trinity’s guards. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

 

 

Trinity Depth Chart

– #13 Daniel Ramser | Senior

– #1 D’Angelo West | Senior

– #30 Michael Stafford | Senior

– #10 Jay Murphy | Senior

 

Trinity Overview

The Shamrocks have an excellent backcourt themselves to counter St. X’s attacking group. It starts with senior combo guard Michael Stafford, who is stronger suited as a point guard because of his great ball handling skills and knack for distributing the basketball to the right teammates. What he lacks in shooting he makes up for in his penetrating skills and getting in the lane to the right whenever he can. Stafford can be stopped if the Tigers can force him left and attack him on the other end of the court.

Daniel Ramser helps complete Stafford’s game to a degree with his elite shooting and quickness. When combined with his big frame, Ramser’s quickness creates deceptive athleticism and allows him to score at a high clip while also being a strong defender.

Senior D’Angelo West is a lefty combo guard who would rather get to the cup than shoot, but he can knock down an open perimeter shot if need be. Like Stafford, West doesn’t like to switch to his off hand and is prone to gambling for steals which can leave him out of position defensively. West is a nice player and will be a big contributor in presenting a challenge to the St. X backcourt.

Trinity’s backcourt understands that this rivalry game is not one to overlook and knows that the St. X backcourt won’t lay down for them.

“We will need to play great on ball defense because [Burgess and C.J. Shanklin] are good players and are going to make plays,”Ramser said. “The rest of our defense will have to be on their toes”.

Trinity has elite height in every position on the court, giving the Shamrocks a clear cut advantage over St. X which has average height at best. But that obviously doesn’t mean anything to the Tigers, as they have mowed through some towering opponents thus far, most recently, a talented and lengthy DeSales team Monday night. Keep your eye on this battle of the backcourts Friday night, because each on is going to have to grind on both ends of the floor in order to come out ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gameday Central | Tiger Basketball vs. St. Xavier

Friday, December 12 | 7:30 PM | Br. John Wills Sports Activities Center | Louisville, KY

St. Xavier 2014 Basketball Gameday Central Graphic

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

St. Xavier Tigers (2-0) vs. St. Xavier Bombers (1-0)
Friday, December 12th
Varsity Game – 7:30 PM
JV Game – 6:00 PM
Br. John Wills Sports Activities Center
Louisville, KY

GAME NOTES

After a week of rest and preparation, Head Coach Kevin Klein are ready to take over duties on Friday nights from Will Wolford and Tiger Football.  St. X’s first Friday game of the season comes at home against the Bombers of Cincinnati Saint Xavier.

After a fantastic season opener on the road against Central and a home blowout of the Collegiate Titans, Tiger Nation will now get to see how good this year’s squad really is in a game that is sure to go down to the wire.  Last season, Cincy St. X led throughout the game, but Tiger point guard Robert Shaw led a comeback effort in the fourth and ultimately was the driving force that allowed St. X to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Tigers were able to leave Cincinnati with a win, and there is no doubt that they want to send the Bombers home with another loss.  Cincy St. X had elite size last season, but does not return much of last year’s production.  We will have to see whether junior Tiger point guard Connor McKim can man the ship like Shaw did last season.  He has played so well to this point, but tonight is where the rubber meets the road; McKim has to play well tonight if he wants fans to stop worrying about Shaw’s absence for St. X this year.

COVERAGE

Twitter: @WSTXSports, @TigerSports_TV
Last Game: Defeated Collegiate 66-27
2014-2015 Tiger Basketball Season Preview

Recap: St. X 66 Collegiate 27

Junior point guard Connor McKim gets in a defensive stance. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Junior point guard Connor McKim gets in a defensive stance. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

On Tuesday night, The Tigers drubbed the Collegiate Titans from start to finish. Connor McKim and C.J. Shanklin shined, but it was an overall team effort, as 14 players saw action. Keep in mind, starting guard Ashanti Burgess was unavailable with a bruised calf. The final score was 66-27; let’s see how it got there.

Stats of the Game

1. Connor McKim had a game high 16 points going 6-7 on field goals and 4-5 from the charity stripe.

2. C.J. Shanklin had a game high 6 rebounds and pulled them down with force; 4 of the 6 were offensive and Shanklin took them right back up and turned them into points.

3. The Tiger Defense forced 26 turnovers. Twenty of them came in the first half. Outstanding.

4. McKim had 5 assists to zero turnovers. If that continues, we are in for a treat this year. This junior point guard is special.

5. Six reserves logged minutes against Collegiate. It’s never too early to get the young bench players some varsity experience.

Pivotal Moments

1. Early in the first quarter Will Olsen had back-to-back layups off steals to build an early 6-0 lead.

2. At one point in the first half, the defense recorded three consecutive steals off the Titan inbound pass, converting all of them into six easy points.

3. Billy Basham hit a three at the halftime buzzer to extend the lead to 46-12.

There were very few “pivotal” moments in this game. It was all Tigers, all night.

Handling the Opponent

St. X handled the opponent. Literally. There’s not much to say here. Pure domination on defense and good execution on offense. The Titans shot 33% from the field to the Tigers’ 58%.

Game Ball

This game ball has to go to McKim. He was all over the place and ran the fast break beautifully on several occasions Tuesday night. He touched nearly every column of the stat sheet and did not turn the ball over. He more than made up for the absence of Burgess who should be ready to go for the next Friday’s clash with Cincinnati St. Xavier.

Tweets of the Game

What a beautiful pass it was. The Tigers had 14 assists on the night.

 

It was undoubtedly a stellar outing by the Green and Gold.

Tiger Basketball Earns Solid Win in Season Opener

Ashanti Burgess and Josh Rudy finish pre-game rituals before tip-off Tuesday night against Central. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Ashanti Burgess and Josh Rudy finish pre-game rituals before tip-off Tuesday night against Central. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The Saint Xavier Basketball team kicked off the regular season Tuesday night against the Central Yellowjackets, and it was a squeaker amid a hostile road environment.

But the Tigers handled the pressure from the crowd and the Jackets very well, and perfect execution late in the game led St. X to a resounding 69-64 victory, making this their second consecutive victory in the season opener.

The team secured the victory with methodical, consistent ball movement and tremendous poise when the action heated up.  They didn’t need any flash or frills; St. X won by simply controlling what it could and taking advantage of every opportunity afforded.

With three new faces in the starting lineup, the final outcome of the game was anything but decided before tip-off.  Juniors Connor McKim and Will Olsen joined senior C.J. Shanklin as first timers in the lineup along with returning starters Ashanti Burgess and Lucas Miller.  After two losing efforts in preseason scrimmages versus Oldham County and Bowling Green, the Tigers were desperately hoping they could find a rhythm early.

St. X never really established a rhythm, but it didn’t phase McKim at all.  The point guard finished with 15 points on 1-5 shooting and 13-14 free throw shooting.  He got to the rim early and often and was money when he got there.  He wasn’t phased by a loud crowd on the road either, as he swished 6-6 shots at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds of the game to put the nail in the coffin.

“I honestly felt great,” McKim said about his clutch free throws.  “I’ve thought about times like that a lot, on the road and needing to hit free throws to seal the game.  I was just thinking, ‘Take your time and win this game.'”

If you look at the box score, both Central and St. X looked very similar; both teams shot horribly from long range, both teams had a ton of turnovers, and both teams had almost the exact same rebound total.

But the Tigers routed the Jackets in one category: free throw shooting.  St. X had more than doubled the amount of attempts Central had, and the Tigers converted those extra scoring opportunities at an 85% team clip.  The difference in the game was the charity stripe.

The game started with a technical foul before tip-off for the third year in a row when Central was assessed a uniform violation for not wearing white jerseys as the home team.  McKim drained the two freebies to begin his eventful night at the line.

The first quarter was back-and-forth the whole way, and the score was knotted up at 16 after the buzzer sounded.

St. X controlled the second quarter on the shoulders of Olsen, who poured in 10 of his team-high 16 points.  Senior Tiger guard Josh Rudy turned the game around for the Tigers on a brilliant play early in the quarter.  He took an inbounds pass, broke Central’s full-court press, and picked up his dribble just after passing halfcourt.  He was immediately double-teamed, and just when it looked like he was going to turn it over on a five-second call, he whipped it across the court to Miller for a wide-open layup that gave the Tigers a big burst of energy.

St. X lead by 7 at halftime, but the Jackets turned the tables in the third period by holding the Tigers to just 7 points and tying the score at 47.

But McKim’s decisive play and Rudy’s deceptively-effective 20 minutes off the bench helped guide St. X the rest of the way.  Rudy only had 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal, but he did not turn the ball over at all and brought a calming presence to the floor when the pressure was ratcheting up.

Shanklin started his first regular season game back after tearing his left ACL in a summer AAU game in during the summer of his junior year.  It will be especially tough for him to get back in the swing of things because not only is he adjusting to the feel of the game after being injured for a long time, but he also has to become accustomed to playing in the post when he is naturally a guard.

“It was hard getting back to the speed of a real game and also the atmosphere,” Shanklin explained.  “I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I started to adjust and get a good feel for the game again.  I didn’t really think about it being my first game back.”

Shanklin finished with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in 23 minutes of action in what was production that will almost surely increase as he grows more accustomed to his role.  He said he needs to work on being more aggressive and putting the ball on the floor going forward.

The Tigers now sit at 1-0 on the young season with their next game against district rival Collegiate.  That game will be St. X’s home opener, and it is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in the Bro. John Wills Arena.