Sports

Struggling season come to an end as the basketball team looks towards the future

After a long, exhausting season, the men’s basketball team dressed just six players to compete against Mansfield University. Three players for KU played all 40 minutes in the one-sided game, as KU lost 90-65. Health and injuries have been the problem all season, which reflected the bench having limited reserves.
Senior Micah Fraction took the court for the last time two Wednesdays ago at home against Mansfield. Fraction didn’t play a fraction of the time either. He played all 40 minutes along with junior Daniel Mack and freshman Ryan Connolly. Junior Kenny Battle started along with freshman Tracy Peal, while junior Harrison Johnson gave a few minutes as the only bench player.
Coach Bernie Driscoll couldn’t have expected much from this game. The Golden Bears were on a six game losing streak by this point and the team’s health didn’t improve any either. With just six players on the court, KU had to battle fatigue as well as talent loss.
At no point in this game did KU have the lead nor did they tie it. In the first half, the Golden Bears trailed by as much as 13 points and could only manage to get within in five points before Mansfield eventually ran away with the win.
Though a loss, two players played at an all-star level for KU. Fraction was on a level, especially from the free throw line. Shooting just six for 22 was not his best outing. That can be attributed to the eight three-pointers he missed while the team was behind. However, his 16-18 from the free throw line helped him get the game-high 29 points. Along with four assists, Fraction had a decent game for the minutes he played.
Mack was the other main contributor in the game. He has seen little playing time to this point, but his last two games he has seen at least 40 minutes each game. He recorded his only two double-doubles in college these past two games. Against Mansfield, he shot a good percentage by scoring nine of his 15 shots. Along with six rebounds offensively and defensively, he combined for 12 rebounds total.
The Golden Bears ended the season with a 5-23 record season, 4-17 in the PSAC. KU ranked 10th in scoring offense with 69.8 points per game and 14th in points against with 76.9 among the other 16 PSAC teams. One area KU excelled in was free throw, in which they ranked fifth.
Despite KU’s poor performance overall, individually, Fraction competed at an all-star caliber. He led the entire PSAC conference in scoring and averaged 22.7 points a game. No other athlete averaged even 20 points a game. The other category he led was average minutes a game and was again the only player to reach 1000 minutes this season; he averaged 38.5 minutes a game and was trailed closest by junior teammate Tyler Brooks with 38 minutes a game. Fraction shot 39 percent this season for 16th best in the conference.
Brooks was the other standout for KU this season. Had he not been hampered by injury all year, this could have been a different season. Brooks ended the season 11th in rebounding, 10th in overall minutes (even with missing four games), eighth in assists, plus fourth in both steals and blocks. In addition, Brooks was a top-50 scorer as well, 35th overall.
After a season with little to celebrate, KU should be optimistic for the future. Many of the games were close until the injuries hindered any —if not all production— from the bench. With the return of Brooks, the team should see some production.
Hopefully, the minutes some players received will be productive for seasons to come. Fraction may not be returning, but Connolly, as a freshman has seen nearly as many minutes as Fraction. His experience this season will surely be helpful for next season.
Otherwise, the Golden Bears need to make quite a few adjustments. Size is an issue with just two players over six-foot. Mack should have been seeing time way long ago with a 6’9” frame. Having double-double daily will be beneficial for everyone as he proved with the time he received at the end of the game. KU was 15th in rebounding margin, so some changes have to be made.
KU may need work next year, but with the minutes the new talent received and the returning talent, KU could be quite dominant. Fraction will be missed this coming season, but hopefully a young new freshman will be able to fill the big shoes he left behind.

By Frank Joe Genther

Categories: Sports