MBU Preview – Part 2
(St. Louis, MO) – The crafting of a college basketball roster is as much art work as it is hard work. Coaches look for a way to roll one class into another with talent, experience and a blending of positional strength.
As Missouri Baptist University coach Matt Brock enters his third year on the Spartan bench, he has worked to develop continuity, culture and talent. We discussed his returning players during the second installment of our MBU preview.
Brock has changed the MBU program from an after thought in the American Midwest Conference into a solid competitive program. As we heard in the first part of this three part series (MBU – Good to Great), Brock has set his sights higher up the AMC ladder.
Having seniors, developing continuity and having enough talent to compete in one of the best NAIA conferences in America isn’t easy, but Brock’s returners appear to have a number of those ingredients.
Seniors Johnny Benson and Andrew Howard will make up the core of the Spartan defensive scheme and Benson appears to be moving back to a more normal (for him) small forward position. During his junior season Howard showed flashes of being a ‘game changing’ type of player.
Brock says his seniors have put in some hard work in the off-season and he is optimistic that their second Spartan seasons will be even more productive.
Benson averaged 9.6 points per game and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds while playing the post position and Howard whose main contributions came on the defensive end averaged 3.2 points and 4.6 rebounds. The 6’7 Howard led the team in blocked shots.
Junior Pablo Hernandez is a dynamic talent with a versatile game. He can bomb (.46% from deep), drive, hit the mid-range jumper and can get to the rim. He was hampered by injuries last season, but when healthy was a major contributor in 2016-17.
The Ames, Spain native averaged 11.1 points in his 15 appearances while shooting 55% from the field and 75% from the charity stripe. At 6’7, Hernandez is a matchup nightmare for AMC coaches.
Four members of last year’s freshmen class return and two of them, James McKelvin and Jahmouri Robinson played significant minutes during the Spartan’s 8th place AMC finish and contributed to that 17-win season.
Brock believes Hernandez and Robinson (second on the team with 99 assists), who are both entering their third year with the program (Robinson red-shirted), provide continuity and cultural stability to a team with only six returning scholarship players (Rick Hill is red-shirting this year).
Robinson exhibited the ability to run the point, while McKelvin was a high-light reel waiting to happen. The 6’4 wing from Hazelwood East was the Spartans’ most entertaining dunker and showed a flare for the dramatic. Robinson, McKelvin and fellow sophomore Hasaan DeCarolis are local products. Robinson graduated from Cardinal Ritter and DeCarolis from St. Charles West.
In Part 3 of this MBU preview, we’ll take a look at the newcomers. There are a lot of them and when reading their basketball resumes, Spartan fans will be excited about what they bring to MoBap basketball.
Editor: Featured image – Andrew Howard – courtesy of mbuspartans.com.