With the NCAA Tournament field being finalized tonight with the last two play-in games, once again the LIBERAL LYING NCAA SELECTION COMMITTEE show a disservice to the troops, by not granting an automatic bid or at-large bid to one of the five TROOP schools this season, Army, Navy, Air Force, The Citadel, and Virginia Military Institute.
And when the TROOPS get snubbed, one can’t help but wonder, if the TROOPS put together a team of all-stars (they’re all all-stars every year, but for this exercise we are only talking basketball) based on this season’s stats, could they make a deep run in the NCAA tournament?
Well I poured over the rosters for our five schools, and picked out a team of 12 that I think could give those COASTAL ELITES like North Carolina, Duke, and Michigan State, all they could handle.
The biggest issue, no offense to the TROOPS, but they just weren’t very good at basketball as a whole this season. The five schools went a combined 65-90, with only Navy posting a winning mark at 20-12, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t individual talent across these teams.
We tried to build a well-rounded roster that could shoot from the outside, be efficient at the foul line, and grab rebounds, but that wasn’t as easy as it sounds, even with five teams to take player from. If you were a team’s leading scorer, you were on the roster because we need buckets on this team.
Without further ado, here is our roster:
F Zane Najdawi, SF/PF The Citadel, Jr, 6-7, 205
15.5 ppg, 5 rpg, .407 3pt%, .513 FG%, 1.5 bpg, NABC All-District
This is our star player, our highest scoring player at over 15 ppg, a sharp-shooter at nearly 41 percent from deep, and good height at 6-7. You could do a lot worse than this when finding a player to build around.
C Matt Wilson, F/C, Army, So, 6-9, 235
12 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 60 FG%, 51 FT%
One thing I found during this exercise was all five teams had almost no height, or talented height. Wilson is our only player over 6-7, but scores efficiently down low, and boards well. If it becomes a free throw contest, he’s probably on the bench though.
F Lavelle Scottie, F, Air Force, So, 6-6, 200
12.2 ppg, .350 3pt%, 72.5 FT%, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
A good mix of everything, and fills in that wing role that we need, an inside out game.
G Shawn Anderson, Navy, G/F, Sr, 6-4, 215
13.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.5 apg, 32% 3pt, 45% fg, 74% ft
A good rebounding and passing guard, Anderson does a little bit of everything, but his size matches up with most guards he’ll be up against.
G Jordan Fox, G, Army, Jr, 6-1, 184
13.7 ppg, 4.1 rgp, 4.2 apg, .396 3pt%, 81 FT%
One of the better passing TROOPS, and an efficient shooter who chips in on the glass.
Really, this starting five would be STRONG. Decent size, four guys who shoot 3’s at over 35 percent. We might struggle on the glass with no star rebounders, but we’re hoping it would be a team effort.
G Bubba Parham, G, VMI, 5-11, 155, FR
14.6 ppg, 2.5 apg, 3.4 rpg, 80% FT, 33% 3pt, 40% FG
G Matt Frierson, G, Citadel, Jr, 6-1, 150
13.5 ppg, 36% 3pt, 89% ft, 1.5 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.1 spg
G Austin Vereen, G, VMI, Jr, 6-4, 190
10.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 34% 3pt, 1.1 spg,
F Tom Lacey, F/C, Navy, Sr, 6-7, 235
8.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 51% FG,
F Ryan Swan, F, Air Force, So, 6-7, 225
9.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 44% 3pt, 64% ft
G Tommy Funk, G, Army, So, 6-0, 181
10.8 ppg, 5.7 apg, 38% 3pt, 70% ft, 23 steals
G/F Kaelon Harris, G/F, Citadel, So, 6-4, 225
9.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.75 apg, 29 steals, 34% 3pt, 70% ft
The bench was a difficult challenge to round out, you would think it’s just best player available, but you also wanted to make sure you have big man depth, as well as guards who do a few things.
On the bench we have our best rebounder in Tom Lacey, who seriously had the best RPG rate of our five teams at 6.5 RPG. Needless to say, that’s going to be our weak point. We have a super freshman in Bubba Parham, the second leading scorer on the roster, but doesn’t do much else that stands out, so he’s a volume shooter. Matt Frierson falls into that same mold. We have a couple shooters, including stretch-4 Ryan Swan, and then a good combo guard in Kaelon Harris.
Now, obviously these numbers are going to drop, particularly the big ones like points, rebounds, and assists, since they are no longer the best or second best player on the team, but I think this is a well-rounded mix.
But could they make a run?
Let’s assume they are your standard 12-seed mid major that went something like 24-7, give or take a couple wins. (This goes up a few wins if they are still in the Patriot League or SoCon, down if they are in a major conference.)
I think they could absolutely make a Sweet 16 run, perhaps further depending on the region, particularly the Midwest or West.
So, to answer your question, if the TROOPS were allowed to assemble a basketball team, yes, they would dominate the NCAA Tournament.