After spending one year at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, Class of 2014 Former Tiger Robert Shaw has decided to forgo the final three years of his collegiate career and enter his name in the 2015 NBA Draft to be held on June 25th in New York.
After much deliberation with family, friends, and coaches, Shaw made the decision to become a “one and done” collegiate player and move on to the next level. He believes his draft stock will never be higher than it is now, and according to NBA scouts, he has a legitimate shot to crack the top ten.
“I considered all my options, and I have arrived at the conclusion that I need to capitalize on this opportunity and see where it takes me,” Shaw explained. “I sincerely thank Coach [Kevin] Klein at St. X and Coach [Clark] Sheehy at SBU for all the time and effort they put in to improving me both as a player and a person. Without them, as well my assistant coaches and teammates throughout the years, I would not be in this position today.”
Shaw arrived on campus at SBU, which competes in NCAA Division II athletics, last fall after a sterling career at St. X. He was a four-year varsity player (three-year starter) and became the first 1,000-point scorer at St. X since 1992. He will always be remembered for his wizardry with the ball, possessing any dribble move you could think of and elite agility and athleticism. One of his biggest highlights as a Tiger was against DeSales during his senior season, when he poured in a career-high 38 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, to lead St. X to a 77-73 overtime win.
Southwest Baptist’s season recently came to an end after a 90-74 defeat at the hands of the University of Nebraska-Kearney in the first round of the MIAA Tournament. The Bearcats finished the season with a record of 11-18, with Shaw playing a big role as a freshman. He came off the bench in all 29 games and averaged 5.4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in just under 20 minutes a game. Although the stats don’t jump off of the page, scouts and coaches who saw Shaw in person were left salivating over his ability to beat defenders off the dribble and score from anywhere on the court. Although he will certainly need to work judiciously to fill out his 6′, 160-pound frame, people around the NBA believe his elite physical tools will yield a high ceiling for what Shaw could become in the future.
Scouts generally see Shaw as the second best left-handed point guard of all potential prospects, behind Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell. It’s a tad too early to project a concrete range where Shaw could be taken with many prominent players yet to make a decision, but ESPN’s Chad Ford says he should be right in the thick of the lottery.
“It’s tough to say at this point, but Shaw definitely projects well in this draft,” Ford explained. “I see him most likely fighting with Louisville’s Terry Rozier for the second guard taken off the board. They’re both ultra-athletic players with a propensity for scoring, so it will be interesting to see where the draft process takes them.”
The 2015 NBA Draft Combine, which begins May 12th in Chicago, will be a huge opportunity for Shaw to showcase his athletic ability in front of NBA executives. If he tests well, it will only be a matter of time before he starts climbing up boards around the Association.
From all of us here at WSTX Sports, Good Luck Robert!
After Saint Xavier Basketball scored a huge win over Eastern Tuesday night, the focus shifts to Friday night’s showdown against Ballard. There are many storylines to be discussed concerning the outcome of this game, and two of WSTX Sports’ best will break them down for you.
First and foremost: Can the Tigers’ torrid shooting on Tuesday carry over to Friday night?
Heichelbech: Everyone was hot the other night. No seriously, eve-ry-one. The Tigers hit six of their first seven threes, and it started with the man in the middle, C.J. Shanklin. At halftime, Shanklin was 3-4 from beyond the arc. He sparked an absolute torching performance from three-point land, as Ashanti Burgess and Lucas Miller cashed in on a combined seven more triples. To answer the question, I don’t think the Tigers will match their insane 67% from deep on Tuesday, but I do think they can heat up at any time. Once one guy gets in a rhythm, the whole squad seems to chime in and virtually anyone who checks in for the Tigers can knock down an open shot. Heck, sometimes I confuse Miller for a red-headed Jimmer Fredette.
Hayslip: I agree; it’s almost impossible to sustain 67% shooting from deep, but Ballard cannot sleep on these guys. We’ve been waiting on this team to break out of its shooting slump for a while now, and Tuesday night might have been the first in a streak of impressive percentages. We all knew Burgess and Miller were elite marksmen coming into the season, and they are proving it now.
What problems does Ballard present to St. X?
Hayslip: Ballard is always a well-coached team that is usually far superior athletically than its opponent; tonight is no different. Last year, the Bruins attacked teams with ultra-electrifying tandem of point guard Quentin Snider and forward Kelan Martin, two guys that could score from anywhere on the floor and get a basket when they needed it most. Now, the Bruins are more perimeter-oriented, sporting two of the best guards in the state in Jalen Perry and Anthony Eaves, a transfer who played in North Carolina last season. These players are complimented by 6’7 senior center Corey Douglas, a great defender who isn’t nearly as polished on the offense as Martin was last year. Ballard will blitzkrieg you with barrages of three balls from Perry, Eaves, junior Brian Alvey and sophomore Jamil Wilson. I will put it this way: If Ballard hits its first couple of treys, it could get ugly. Quick.
Heichelbech: Their shooting is out of this world for sure. But you can’t forget about the rebounding of the Douglas Brothers–Corey and Omardrick. They gobble up many of the three pointers that Ballard misses and provide valuable second-chance points. If you want to beat Ballard, you have to put a body (or two) on each of them when a shot goes up.
Can St. X handle Ballard’s offensive explosiveness?
Heichelbech: I never count the Tigers out defensively. Just look at what they did Tuesday night against Eastern. Coming into the matchup, the Eastern duo of Cam Reed and Trey Moses averaged a combined 32.7 ppg. Against the Tiger Defense: 9 points (Reed was 0-11 and failed to score a single point). Call it a fluke, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong. Just look at what the Tigers did to Ray Spalding in the first matchup against Trinity and for the better half of the second meeting. Lucas Miller did a fantastic job of rattling the future Louisville player and put a wrench in the Rocks’ rhythm and ability to control the pace of the game. Perry and Eaves are quick, shifty guards that can fill it up in a hurry, but the Tigers have proven their athleticism in handling big projects like this Bruin tandem. I have no doubt that the Tigers are capable of slowing the attack from the Bruins
Who will have a big game on offense for St. X?
Heichelbech: There are plenty of candidates to chose from here. Burgess has been on a tear as of late, scoring 16 or more in the last 6 games. Shanklin showed us his ability to light it up on Tuesday when he went for 17 in only 23 minutes. This one’s tough, but I’m going to go with Miller. His versatility is so important to this team, and I love his range like I mentioned earlier. He can bang in the post or pull up from 20+ feet away. My prediction: 17 points, 4 assists for the Red Mamba.
Stat to watch?
Hayslip: Watch out for the foul columns for both teams. On several occasions, Miller and Burgess have been plagued by foul trouble. The Douglas brothers on the other side must watch how they body up Tiger guards like Connor McKim and Will Olsen when they come barreling into the lane, because that is prime opportunity for St. X to pin some cheap fouls on the Bruins’ interior early in the game.
Heichelbech: Keep an eye on the assist to turnover ratio for the entire team on Friday night. In the two games against Trinity, St. X registered a combined 13 assists (including 3 in the first meeting) and 32 turnovers. Moving without the basketball and sharing the rock is essential for good offensive flow. A mere three assists is extremely underwhelming and detrimental for the offense. If the Tigers want to take down a powerhouse like Ballard, they must clean up the unneeded mistakes.
How can St. X win this Game?
Heichelbech: Well Jacob, I think it’s pretty straight forward. The Tigers must limit Eaves and especially Perry. A victory is going to come with the Tigers valuing every possession, and looking for the open shots. I’m not going to say that they will have to shoot a certain percentage, because if they take care of the ball and have solid shot selection, the shots will fall. Also, it would help in a major way if the Tigers could win the battle of the boards. St. X is playing its best basketball at the right time. My prediction 74-71 Tigers.
Hayslip: I’m going to be straightforward; I expect St. X to pull out a 71-68 squeaker. Whoever finishes with the least amount of turnovers will have a huge advantage, as you alluded to earlier. Coming off of a great performance against Eastern, this squad is on an emotional high. The team is hyped. The fans will be hyped. St. X will ride a wave of energy and passion to a huge win.
Today, Saint Xavier Basketball begins the most important week in the regular season. It will travel to Eastern High School to take on the Eagles, a team it has struggled with as of late. Let’s see how this matchup breaks down.
What Happened Last Time
In one word, Eastern has been able to get the best of the Tigers recently because of shooting. The last time St. X traveled to Eastern, then-senior Eagle guard Jordan Brangers lit up heavily-favored St. X for 26 points. He accumulated most of those points draining outside shots. The next year, Eastern came into the Br. John Wills Arena and again upended St. X, this time in OT. The catalyst for that victory: another sharpshooting guard. Now-senior Eastern guard Cameron Reed, who is signed to play basketball next season at the University of New Orleans, burned the Tigers for 25 points. On the first possession of that game, Reed stroked a three from NBA range, turned to the St. X bench, and put up the “shush” finger to his lips; he backed it up, once again proving that he gets up for big games.
Keys for St. X
There are two areas where the Tigers need to focus on in this game: turnovers and perimeter defense. Taking care of the ball has been an issue all season for St. X, and it can’t afford to be loose and careless with the ball in this one, as Eastern features several quick, water-bug guards who will swipe for pilfers every time they smell blood. As I previously wrote, it is well-documented that Eastern has killed the Tigers with outside shooting, and St. X will have to learn from history if it wants to break the current losing streak to the Eagles. Cameron Reed is still in a blue and white jersey, and he still has a killer instinct.
One development that will be intriguing to watch is the pace of the game. Eastern is chock full of speed and athleticism (not to mention, five of Eastern’s top eight players are sophomores–guys who go 110% at all times and haven’t yet figured out how to manage their energy) and loves to press and speed up the game. If St. X plays into the Eagles’ hands and attempts to match the speed, turnovers could become a major issue. St. X wants to push, but more often than not, it ends up running set plays in a halfcourt offense. Can the Tigers play at full throttle without spinning out of control? We haven’t seen anything that proves they can, but tonight will be a nice test.
Fortunately for St. X, it has a player very much like Reed in senior guard Ashanti Burgess, and he has been on an offensive tear lately. He has dropped 19 or more in each of the last five games, accompanied with over 50% field goal percentage. When I asked him about playing against big time players like Reed, he answered, “They put their shoes on just like me. I am athletic and can score to.” That he can. He has been laser focused lately, and if he can carry this run into tonight, we could be in for a show. However, St. X will more than likely need more offense than just a 20-point game from Burgess. Your guess is as good as mine as to where that extra production will come from. Lucas Miller, C.J. Shanklin, and Will Olsen are more than capable of exploding, but the extra scoring could also come from a couple extra buckets from role guys like Nick Kitchen or Billy Basham.
Keep your eye out for this Trey Moses-Miller matchup on defense as well. Miller already has experience guarding elite size and athleticism, as he checked Trinity’s Raymond Spalding for two games with significant success. But Moses is a different kind of animal; he doesn’t have Spalding’s freakish athleticism, and he won’t block ten shots in a game. But Moses is much more developed and skilled on the offensive end, which I will get into more later. If Miller can lock up Moses, it will put a lot of pressure on Reed to carry the Eagle offense.
The Tigers are currently on a two-game winning streak after victories against Fairdale and Seneca last week. Beginning this monumental week with a win over a fantastic team in their own region could prove to be the springboard for a team who has finally figured out its roles within the team, according to Burgess.
Keys for Eastern
As you may have deduced, Eastern begins and ends with Moses and Reed. Reed (18.2 ppg) and Moses (14.5 ppg) account for more than half of the Eagles’ 63.1 points per game, and they do it from all areas on the floor. Reed is an outstanding isolation player, using his elite ball handling skills and decisive moves to create space for his shot. Reed is shifty; he can get to any spot on the court he wants. He can pull up from anywhere on the floor and is a great finisher at the rim. When you foul him, he makes you pay by shooting over eighty percent at the charity stripe.
Reed is also a great distributor as the ballhandler in a pick and roll. Reed-Moses pick and rolls are deadly, due most in part to Moses’ shooting ability, which I will get to in a bit. Reed is great at drawing defenses in and then flipping it to Moses or sophomore Jonathon Lane for an easy bucket or kick it out to another guard for a wide-open three. The bottom line is that Reed is dangerous anytime the ball is in his hands; he’s dangerous without the ball, too, because you can’t come off of him at all to help.
Moses is also a lethal weapon on offense. The Ball State signee has a great feel for the game; he’s developed a ton since St. X last squared off with him. When he’s not mixing it up with pick and rolls or pick and pops, he has that uncanny ability of finding the little, open pockets in a defense that create problems. He hasn’t used it much this season (4-10 3FG), but he has a nice jumpshot that extends out to beyond the three-point line. He’s a beast with his back to the basket, utilizing an impressive arsenal of moves with both hands. That’s the part of the game that Miller didn’t have to deal with guarding Spalding; Spalding doesn’t post up. Moses does post up, and he knows what to do with the pumpkin when he gets his hands on it. Moses has a great sense of where offensive rebounds will fall and scores a lot of points on putbacks.
One aspect of Moses’ game that most don’t think about enough, in my opinion, is his passing. He’s Pau Gasol-like in the sense that he can catch the ball at the elbow and see the entire court in front of him and deliver on point bounce passes to cutters. Most bigs don’t have that vision at all, let alone in high school. In last year’s game, Moses got into foul trouble early and was never able to get into a rhythm. That’s his one noticeable weakness; if you’re physical with him, you can get him to let go of some of the force he plays with.
Besides those two, Eastern is very young, and that youth is exactly what you’d think it is–speedy, athletic, but not fundamental. Sophomore guard Sugar Ray Wyche is a defensive menace as an on-ball defender, but he doesn’t have definitive offensive skills. Similarly, Lane’s physicality is intimidating; he’s a big, strong pit bull who fights inside on both ends to try and lessen the load on Moses. But he doesn’t have anything specific in his game that makes you fear him. If you box out Lane inside and cut off driving lanes for Wyche, you effectively make them net-zero players on offense.
That being said, you can’t underestimate these guys at all; they’re hungry. Moses is comfortable with the guys around him and Reed. “We trust our younger guys if one or both of us are struggling,” he explains.
The Eagles are coming into this game after losing consecutive games to Ballard and Manual, but Moses is still high on this team’s potential. Another victory over St. X would add to that sentiment.
“We’re on a two-game losing streak, but we’ve played two of the best teams in the state, so I feel like we’re fine,” Moses says. “I still have a lot of confidence in this team and feel like we can make a deep run.”
The Most Telling Stat
This is pretty easy for both teams. Rebounding has been critical to both St. X and Eastern’s success this season. St. X Head Coach Kevin Klein always has one of his team goals for every game be “Win the rebound battle by at least five.” When they meet that goal, the Tigers are almost always in a great position to win the game. When they get out-rebounded, the result is usually an L.
Moses says rebounding is the path to a deep run for Eastern.
“Controlling the boards is a big key to winning for us,” he says. “When we rebound, I feel we’re as good as any team.”
Last Friday night, Saint Xavier Basketball showed a lot of people that it can play with anyone. The Tigers fell to the Rocks by a final score of 57-47, but they were in it until the very end. It would be very hard for St. X to play better tomorrow night, but it could be done. From a defensive standpoint, St. X played outstanding; however, there are still some points the Tigers need to remember.
1. Don’t forget about Ray.
Lucas Miller did an outstanding job limiting Shamrock star Raymond Spalding in the first match, holding him to just 10 points and 7 rebounds. It will be an even tougher task for Miller this time around, as Mike Szabo and his staff have almost assuredly made some changes to their offensive plan after seeing how the Tigers guarded Ray the first time out. A key stat to remember concerning this matchup is fouls, as St. X was able to send Spalding to the pine for almost the entire second quarter because of foul trouble. (The Tigers would take full advantage of his absence by winning the second quarter en route to a halftime lead.) If St. X can get Spalding to commit cheap fouls early in the game again, it puts them in great position. We have yet to see how the game goes with Spalding on the court for his regular amount of minutes, and we don’t want to find out how it goes, either. Spalding must be fronted at all times, doubled immediately when he has the ball inside the arc, and soundly boxed out every time a shot goes up.
2. Keep an eye on Jax.
Jax Levitch, as expected, hit three pointers when Trinity needed them. He finished 3 for 4 from outside, and all them were too open due to split-second mental lapses on defense. The Tigers need to eliminate those mental mistakes and cling to Levitch like white on rice. Levitch is a smart player, and if he is feeling it, he will without warning drain a long ball in someone’s grill; he might get one or two, but St. X has to keep him uncomfortable. His outside shot cannot be the reason St. X loses.
3. Don’t sleep on D’Angelo West.
In my preview of the last matchup on Friday, I described West as arguably Trinity’s best offensive player. He did not live up to that title on Friday, managing 0 points on 0 of 4 shooting. But don’t write this guy off after one terrible game. He is still a “heat-check” slasher who can score 20 points on any given night; and for all we know, this could be that night. St. X needs to continue to guard him tough, because holding him to a big, fat donut in the box score will go a long way in the Tigers’ pursuit of revenge, just like it did on Friday.
With so much length, athleticism, and talent on the other side, St. X has to win this game as a team; that’s how it was so close the first time. It’s especially important on the defensive side, where you have to call out picks, slips, cuts, and many other movements throughout the possession. If the Tigers are talking on defense, it means they are locked in to what Trinity is doing. Talking keeps everyone focused on his assignment; if St. X wants to beat Trinity, each player must have a laser-focus on what he needs to do on the floor at all times.
5. Be tough.
Playing against a more talented team also means you have to do the dirty work. You have to fight for every rebound, every loose ball, and pounce on every opportunity that arises. The Tigers would do well to turn the game into a controlled street-fight. No easy layups. No dunks for Spalding. If the Rocks know that they will be met with force if they try to enter the paint, they will go there less often. If St. X can channel its inner Bad Boy Pistons and get Trinity to focus on the players in front of them instead of the game being played, it will be on the way to a victory.
If the Tigers can capitalize on these points and weather a few Shamrock runs, they can do this. They almost won the first game, and defense is what got them to that point. St. X isn’t scared or worried about guarding the other team; if the guys stay on their toes, drop the mental lapses, and leave every drop of energy on the court, they can win this battle.
This game is huge. If St. X can topple the giant, they can win the LIT and make an enormous statement in the process. The Tigers are ready.
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.
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.
The forward position is where a big disparity begins to set in between the Rocks and the Tigers. The forwards for both teams are very skilled, but in different ways. While Trinity has a clear physical advantage, St. X will be sneaky in how they use this position tonight. It will be interesting to see how this matchup plays out on the court.
St. Xavier Depth Chart
– #32 Will Olsen | 6’2″ | 191 lbs. | Junior | SF
– #35 C.J. Shanklin | 6’3″ | 175 lbs. | Senior | SF/PF
– #22 Billy Basham | 6’1″ | 185 lbs. | Junior | SF/PF
– #15 Nick Kitchen | 6’2″ | 180 lbs. | Senior | SF
St. Xavier Overview
The Tigers feature some wiley, heady players that man the forward spots. Olsen and Shanklin start, and they provide a nice inside-outside blend. Olsen is a perimeter player who loves to nestle himself in along the baseline and wings in positions that make opposing defenses uncomfortable. His three-point shooting has been streaky this year, but he will take and make any unguarded outside shot.
Shanklin is an especially interesting piece in St. X’s puzzle. He is a natural point guard with NBA size, but due to the Tigers’ extreme lack of size, Shanklin has shifted to playing almost exclusively at small forward and power forward. Shanklin has never been a sharpshooter, but his outside has improved considerably this season, and it has gotten to the point where he should be respected out there. This step was huge for his game, because his strength is much like Trinity’s similarly-sized guard Michael Stafford: penetrating. Shanklin loves getting into the teeth of a defense and then making a decision on whether to pass or shoot. He puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with his wide array of flashy dribble moves. Initially, Shanklin’s ball handling was being taken advantage of because of the position he plays. But as he has grown more comfortable with his role, he has started to get out on the break more frequently. A huge advantage for St. X is Shanklin being the team’s leading rebounder (6.4 rpg), because he has become a natural at rebounding and going the length of the court on his own for buckets. Any easy baskets Shanklin can get by pushing after his own rebound will be huge in this game.
Billy Basham and Nick Kitchen come off the bench to bring smart, high-energy play that is capable of flipping the complexion of the game.
Shanklin says that defense and rebounding are his chief duties tonight; with the bodies he is going up against, it is no surprise he is focusing his energy inside. If Olson can get going from deep, Shanklin’s toughness inside may be the deciding factor in the game.
Olson said it best: “We are going to have to battle,” he explained. “We are going to have to go after it on the backboards and have to have all five guys boxing out on every possession.”
Trinity Depth Chart
– #23 Christian Thieneman | SF/PF | Senior
– #4 Jax Levitch | SF/PF | Senior
– #14 David Burton | SF | Sophomore
The Rocks aren’t particularly deep at this position, but they have a couple of special players here. Christian Thieneman is committed to Marshall University, and Jax Levitch has several D1 offers. There is a reason these guys will be heading to big-time colleges next season: they make plays.
Thieneman will be a handful because of his versatility. He can bang inside with the bigs and rebound, and he is equally as lethal outside, where he sports an impressive three-point stroke. He is ultra-important in Trinity’s offensive scheme because he can fill multiple holes left from foul trouble or injuries at any time.
When I asked him if Raymond Spalding getting in foul trouble would change their approach, he responded predictably.
“Yes it could,” Thieneman said. “I could play inside a little bit or play a five-out motion.”
Levitch, summarized in one word: sniper. You simply cannot give this guy any look at the basket from three-point range. He sunk big trey balls in the state tournament last season, and he told me he is more than comfortable taking and making shots on a big stage. Something to watch out for will be Levitch’s defense. It’s an aspect of his game he said he needs to work on, and if he doesn’t come out focused, he could be an attack point for St. X.
While all the eyes are always on Spalding, Thieneman could be the difference in this game. All you have to hear is him describing his role.
“[My role is] just to be the toughest kid on the team and lead the team to victories.”
When a player of his caliber says something like that, he should be feared.
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.
Want to get more informed about what you will see on Friday night at Broadbent Arena? Then head on over to MaxPreps and check out the newly-updated season statistics for Saint Xavier Basketball. You can see season averages for each player and check box scores from any game St. X has played this season.
You can check it out here, Tiger Nation, but I will give you some quick hitters now.
Leading Scorer: Lucas Miller (11.4 points per game)
Leading Rebounder: C.J. Shanklin (6.4 rebounds per game)
Leading Passer: Josh Rudy (3.2 assists per game)
You can continue to check MaxPreps throughout the season, as stats will be updated after each game the Tigers play.
If you want to be directly behind the hoop–in the Rage Cage–at the game this Friday, January 9, there are 450 spots. They will go quickly. Seniors have priority, but that will expire after school Tuesday.
The end-zone seating is only $8 (see the red oval), but other seats will cost $10 (see the blue trapezoid). NOTE: You will not be able to enter the endzone seating without the end-zone ticket.
This means if you show up at the game and buy a ticket, you will not be in best spot to watch the game and cheer on your Tigers.
Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about your plans for the game. The earlier you get your ticket, the better.
Friday, December 12 | 7:30 PM | Br. John Wills Sports Activities Center | Louisville, KY
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
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
As Winter Sports head into State Championship runs and Spring Sports prepare to open their seasons, there are a lot of headlines. Let’s get to it.
Tiger Basketball begins the road to Rupp Arena and the Sweet Sixteen State Tournament in Lexington this week. St. X takes on Brown this Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. in the Brother John Wills Arena. Looking ahead, the Tigers should be in the 26th District Championship on Thursday in the Wills Arena; game time is set for 7:00 p.m. Look for another thrilling game in the championship, as St. X will presumably take on Male in a rematch of fierce rivals. The Tigers edged the Bulldogs 70-67 in an electrifying, double-overtime battle at Male on Feb. 7th.
Tiger Swimming will go to war at Ralph Wright Natorium Friday and Saturday in search of its 26th consecutive State Championship and 50th overall. St. X will have to fend off a hungry Covington Catholic team, who has as good a shot as ever to break the streak. Competition starts at 10:00 a.m. on both days. In addition to the State Championship, the Tigers will also be fighting to finish off a fourth consecutive undefeated season.
Tiger Lacrosse begins practice this week; rosters were announced last weekend, and the hunt for a sixth State Championship in seven years is on. The Tiger Lax Green-Gold Game is set for this Saturday, March 1st, from 10-12 a.m. at Brother Thomas More Stadium. The season opener is scheduled for Wednesday, March 5th, against Paul Dunbar High School. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at Brother Thomas More Stadium.
Tiger Rugby will welcome one of the best rugby teams in the nation to Brother Thomas More Stadium on Saturday. Indianapolis Cathedral High School was ranked number one in the country last season and will be the Tigers’ opponents in their season opener. The A game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., and the B game is set for 4:30.
Tomorrow is WSTX Sports’ own Evan Shaheens’ birthday! Everyone make sure to tweet @E_Shaheen82 and wish him a Happy Birthday tomorrow! Thanks for everything you do for the Tiger Sports Family, Evan!
It will be a busy week and a busy weekend for sure for Tiger Sports. Tiger fans, make sure to get out to as many events as possible! Go Tigers!