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Webster basketball risks losing JV season due to roster shortfall
After having 32 players last year that were a part of Webster men’s basketball, this year’s team has seen a smaller roster.
Due to graduation and departures from the team, there are 21 players listed on the school roster this year.
Only having 21 total players leads to issues with roster layout and player fatigue throughout the season. There are 18 available roster spots for varsity. While those spots are available, Chris Bunch, Webster University men’s head basketball coach, says he does not use all 18 spots. It could force some players to play both varsity and junior varsity.
“If we dress 15 guys [for varsity] that means we have to pull probably three or four guys in that are playing varsity and it’s just kind of hard,” Assistant Varsity Coach and Head JV Coach Kevin Miller said.
Miller said they want to stay away from players splitting time to ensure varsity players are fresh.
“When we throw guys out there for varsity we expect them to compete,” Miller said. “We don’t want to have them play a JV game the night before a varsity game to the point where they can’t play varsity because they are so tired.”
The small roster is not because of a lack of players, Miller said. Instead, it shows the amount of talent the roster has as a whole.
“Everybody, top to bottom, that’s at practice every single day has a legitimate spot of dressing for varsity every night,” Miller said. “Every guy, we never worry [as a coaching staff] to put out there on the court.”
Regular season about to begin
Even with the JV season in question, it has not taken away from the preparation for the upcoming varsity season.
Webster University was voted by the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) coaches to finish first in conference according to their preseason poll. Webster received 71 total votes to go along with four first place votes out of ten.
The Gorloks have finished first in conference play three out of the last five years.
“It’s one of our goals to do as well as we can. We always hope to win the league and there are years you do that and years you don’t,” Bunch said. “I think we have a good nucleus of guys coming back and some new players that will make contributions right away.”
One of those returning players is junior forward Hunter Ward. Last season, Ward averaged 13 points and 6.5 rebounds per game en route to all-conference honors.
Young team, good leadership
After losing seniors Ahmad Smith and Aaron Griffin to graduation, the Gorloks were left with only one senior, Taylor Walton. With only one senior, the risk of lack of leadership is brought to question.
Walton only started two games last season but played in 26 and averaged 12 minutes per game.
Bunch does not believe the number of seniors determines if the team has leaders.
“I have seen a lot of teams, in all kinds of sports, that had a lot of seniors that didn’t necessarily have good leadership,” Bunch said. “And I’ve coached some that didn’t have many seniors that do have good leadership at the top and I think this group is one of them.”
Junior guards Adam Etter and CJ Moore started 24 games and 23 games respectively and Ward started 22 games last year.
New coach on staff
A familiar face will be seen on the sideline this season, but not in uniform. Kevin Miller is currently enrolled at Webster University as a senior. Miller played for the Gorloks two years ago and missed last year due to injury.
This season, Miller decided that it was best to stop playing and contribute to the team as a coach instead.
“I liked this group of guys and I wanted to, since I couldn’t play this year, be able to give back,” Miller said.
One man that is happy to have him on staff is Bunch.
“He’s done a very good job,so far,” Bunch said. “He’s a basketball guy. Even last year when he wasn’t playing, he was still at every practice, still talking to the guys. I think they respect his opinion and respect what he’s done and what he’s about.”
The Gorloks’ first game is Nov. 14 against Central College in Pella, IA.