The youthful West Virginia Wesleyan men’s basketball team (1-10, 0-6 MEC) has struggled in the early part of the 2021-22 season. Head Coach Derek Sloan leans on a rotation full of freshman. The inexperience of his most trusted line-ups has led Sloan’s team to go through a steep learning curve as the freshman adjust to the pace of the college game. As these young Bobcats continue to gain valuable in-game experience and reps, the future looks increasingly bright for Sloan’s program.
In 11 games this year, the Bobcats have scored 702 total points, averaging a respectable 63.8 per game. As a team, the Bobcats have shot a combined 286-683 (41.9%) from the field, including 67-217 (30.9%) from three-point range. The Bobcats make around 26 total field goals a game with an average of 6.1 of those shots coming in the form of made three-point field goals. The Bobcats have gone 63-91 (69.2%) from the charity stripe as a team, averaging 5.7 made free throws per contest. The Bobcats have played well as a team, sharing the basketball, getting good looks on their way to tallying 143 total assists, averaging 13 a game.
The Bobcats have struggled to rebound the basketball consistently. While they have pulled down 321 total rebounds, good enough to average 29.2 a game, but they are getting out rebounded by opponents to the tune of 8.2 rebounds per game on average. Despite looking rather good offensively at times, the Bobcats go through spells where they don’t value the basketball, getting careless with their passes. The Bobcats have committed 139 turnovers this season, a number they will focus on limiting going forward.
Most of the concerns surrounding the Bobcats this season have been centered around their defense. While, the Bobcats have nabbed 81 total steals on the year (7.4 a game) and blocked 13 shots (1.2 a game); they have also allowed opponents to drop as staggering 910 combined points (82.7 per game). The Bobcats’ opponents have shot a combined 336-666 (50.5%) from the field, including 107-287 from (37.3%) from deep.
The Bobcats opponents have made on average 30.5 field goals per game, including 9.7 threes per contest. The Bobcats opponents have gone 131-178 (73.6%) from the charity stripe against them. The Bobcats have lost their games this season by an average margin of 18.9 points per game. These porous defensive numbers must improve if the Bobcats hope to build any sort of momentum for their young players to take into the offseason.
Redshirt Freshman forward Jayden Hibbett paces the Bobcats in scoring, notching an outstanding 20.3 points per game to go along with 5.6 rebounds per game. Playing around 33.3 minutes per game, with 10 starts in 11 games, Hibbett has shown a deep arsenal of offensive moves, shooting 4-23 (17.4%) from deep, 23-29 (79.3%) from the free throw line, and 98-197 (49.7%) from the field, to complement his 12 assists, 8 steals, and 3 blocks on the year. Senior guard Braeden McGrew is one of the Bobcats only source of veteran leadership. In his role as a steadying force, McGrew has posted 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. In his 33.4 minutes per game, including 7 starts, McGrew is shooting 17-63 (35.9%) from deep, 14-15 (93.3%) from the free throw line, and 47-131 (35.9%) from the field. McGrew is also the Bobcats’ best playmaker on either side of the ball, dishing out 48 assists and nabbing 15 steals. Redshirt freshman guard Shawn Moran has already made his mark this season, posting strong averages of 7.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. In 24.4 minutes per game, the local product has made 9 starts, shooting 13-35 (37.1%) from deep, 6-8 (75%) from the charity stripe, and 29-77 (37.7%) from the field. Moran has also doubled as a secondary offensive and defensive playmaker for the Bobcats dishing out 15 assists and nabbing 10 steals. Freshman forward Tyler Slone has had a strong debut season, scoring 6.9 points per game and pulling down 3.5 rebounds per game. Spanning 21 minutes per game, including 1 start, Slone has shot 12-23 (52.2%) from deep, 2-5 from the free throw line, and 31-58 (53.4%) from the field. Slone is versatile in terms of production, dishing out 9 assists, nabbing 6 steals, and recording 4 blocks.
While they have struggled, the young Bobcats have shown improvement and a scrappy willingness to fight through the early stages of a rebuild. This team has boundless potential, but it will be up to the coaching staff and the team’s veteran leaders to ensure the young players are picking up good habits and living up to that potential. The WVWC men’s basketball team will next take the court following the turn of the new year, on January 1 for a home game against Salem.
Senior guard Tommie Pope - 5.8 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, 28.4 minutes per game, 4 starts in 5 games played, 2-6 (33.3%) from deep, 1-6 (16.7%) from the free throw line, 13-32 (40.6%) from the field, 16 assists, 11 steals, 0 blocks
Redshirt Freshman guard Anthony Craven Jr. - 5.7 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, 22.4 minutes per game, 5 starts in 10 games played, 5-14 (35.7%) from deep, 6-12 (50%) from the free throw line, 23-65 (35.4%) from the field, 17 assists, 11 steals, 0 blocks
Sophomore guard Joseph Keenan - 4 points per game, 1.1 rebounds per game, 15.4 minutes per game, 5 stars in 7 games played, 8-27 (29.6%) from deep, 4-5 (80%) from the free throw line, 8-31 (25.8%) from the field, 5 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks
Sophomore guard Jalen Anderson - 3.3 points per game, 1.2 rebounds per game, 8.8 minutes per game, 0 starts in 6 games played, 1-5 (20%) from deep, 1-3 (33%) from the free throw line, 9-20 (45%) from the field, 4 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks
Senior guard Marvel McGowan - 3.0 points per game, 0.7 rebounds per game, 19.7 minutes per game, 3 starts in 3 games played, 1-5 (20%) from deep, 0-0 from the line, 4-19 (21.1%) from the field, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Freshman guard Brian Bernard - 2.0 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game, 9.2 minutes per game, 0 starts in 6 games played, 0-4 (0%) from deep, 2-2 (100%) from the free throw line, 5-12 (41.7%) from the field, 1 assist, 5 steals, 2 blocks
Freshman guard Kabe Ellis - 2 points per game, 0.6 rebounds per game, 10.1 minutes per game, 0 starts in 8 games played, 4-11 (36.4%) from deep, 0-0 from the charity stripe, 6-14 (42.9%) from the field, 3 assists, 6 steals, 1 block
Freshman forward John Ibukunoluwa - 1.8 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, 18.3 minutes per game, 11 games started out of 11 games played, 0-0 from deep, 2-2 (100%) from the free throw line, 9-20 (45%) from the field, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Freshman guard Daunte Gardner - 1.4 points per game, 1 rebound per game, 3.8 minutes per game, 0 starts in 5 games played, 0-0 from deep, 1-2 (50%) from the free throw line, 3-4 (75%) from the field, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks
Freshman forward Zach Seese - 1 point per game, 0.7 rebounds per game, 7.7 minutes per game, 0 starts in 3 games played, 0-1 (0%) from deep, 1-2 from the free throw line, 1-3 (33.3%) from the field, 1 assist, 3 steals, 0 blocks
Freshman forward Mekhi Barlow - 0 points per game, 1 rebound per game, 2 minutes per game, 0 starts in 1 game played, 0-0 from deep, 0-0 from the line, 0-0 from the field, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 block
Freshman guard Garrett Staubs - 0 points per game, 0 rebounds, 1 minute per game, 0 starts in 1 game played, 0-0 from deep, 0-0 from the free throw line, 0-0 from the field, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks
Good luck to the WVWC men’s basketball team next season!