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.
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’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.
It’s pretty straight forward when it comes to the center matchup in this game. All eyes will be on the center in green and white, but the center in green and gold has an opportunity to put his own stamp on the game by bottling up the center in green and white. This will probably be the most fun and entertaining matchup to watch, so let’s get into the details.
St. Xavier Depth Chart
– #31 Lucas Miller | 6’3″ | 197 lbs. | C/PF | Senior
-#24 Daniel Ryan | 6’5″ | 215 lbs. | C | Junior
St. Xavier Overview
Lucas Miller isn’t a true center by any means, but because he draws the unenviable task of checking Trinity’s Raymond Spalding on defense, we are putting him here.
Guarding a skilled 6’10” guy when you are 6’3″ is just inherently difficult. But Miller isn’t afraid of the task at hand. If he plays smart and does the little things right, he has a chance at neutralizing Spalding.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, this is going to be a long and tough night for Miller on the defensive end. He will be jostling for position all night with Spalding trying to front him in the post and boxing him out when a shot goes up. It may influence his offensive game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miller frequently spacing out on offense to save his energy for defense during the game. I don’t blame him.
Here’s a fact, though: Limiting Spalding will be way more important than producing on the offensive end. Miller knows he has offensive weapons capable of picking up his slack, so the only thing that should be in his mind is big number 35 in the green and white.
We could see Daniel Ryan have an impact on the game if Miller gets in foul trouble, which has happened a few times this season. He has a much bigger frame than Miller, but Ryan is more susceptible to being beat by Spalding’s athleticism and quickness. Either way, Ryan is a fundamental player who does everything right and makes very few mistakes. His size might come in handy tonight.
Whoever is on the floor for St. X at the center position, there is one mission: disrupt Spalding. As you will see further down in this article, Spalding is the “You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him” type of player, and if St. X wants to win this game, having a body hounding Spalding at all times is crucial.
If you haven’t realized it yet, I will sum it up for you: Tonight, this position is all about defense, defense, and more defense.
Trinity Depth Chart
– #35 Raymond Spalding | C | Senior
– #33 Christian Terry | C | Junior
You don’t need to look very far when it comes to the Rocks’ center position. Trinity starts and ends with Raymond Spalding. He is the offensive and defensive anchor. He is the 52nd best player in the nation, according to ESPN. He is the “Rock” of the Rocks.
It starts defensively with him. I’ve never seen a better shot-blocker in person in my life. Not only does use his elite athleticism, Spalding has amazing instincts. A pump-fake isn’t going to fool him; he knows that guards will try to attack his body in attempt to get foul calls, so he lets the guard come to him first, and then he sends the shot into the third row.
This kid is just unbelievable on the defensive end. Plenty of NBA big men lack the defensive skills Spalding has. It can’t be understated; Spalding is a defensive monster.
Like many athletic-freak big men, Spalding’s offensive game is much less threatening. He has a few post moves, but they all going to the left with his right hand. He doesn’t want to go left at all. He isn’t and elite free-throw shooter either, so St. X would be smart to put him at the line instead of allowing an easy two.
Spalding means so much to Trinity that if he has to miss significant time due to foul trouble, the Rocks are in trouble, even with all the other talent they have. Junior Christian Terry doesn’t come close to providing what Spalding does for this team. There’s a huge drop-off after Spalding.
But again, Spalding is a superstar. He single-handedly wins games. And he doesn’t force things, something vital to a young player like himself.
“In games, I try not to focus on one area of a game,” Spalding told me. “I just let whatever comes to me happen. I don’t plan on doing anything besides playing hard and getting to the foul line. I’ve been in the gym working a lot, so that’s the plan.”
If he is confident going to the free-throw line, St. X has to be worried. Trinity is a huge favorite, and making Spalding ineffective is about the only avenue the Tigers have to a victory.
The bottom line: If Spalding even has an okay game, much less a good game, the final result might not be pretty for St. X.
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.
Trinity Depth Chart
– #13 Daniel Ramser | Senior
– #1 D’Angelo West | Senior
– #30 Michael Stafford | Senior
– #10 Jay Murphy | Senior
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.