With a 66-42 loss to Grand Valley State two weeks ago, the ’06-07 season ended for the Northern Kentucky University Men’s Basketball Team.
However, so did the careers of Division I transfers James Cripe, Anthony Teague and Steven Wright. Fifth-year senior and team workhorse Kevin Schappell also suited up for the last time.
Although the Norse are losing over 40 points per game offensively (the four seniors were the four leading scorers), excellent defenders and shot-blocker Cripe, who swatted 45 shots this year, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare for the 2007-08 men’s team.
Sophomore guard Billy Finnell will most likely be the leader for the Norse next year. Finnell was second on the team behind Wright in minutes per game. He averaged just under 30 minutes and eight points per game.
With the loss of Cripe, the team’s most productive inside player, former Boone County High School standout Travis Rasso will see an increase in play time. The 6-foot-8 center averaged only 11 minutes per game this past season.
Don’t forget about guard David McFarland. He won’t blow the competition away with his scoring – he averaged only 1.7 points per game this season, – but he will be an integral part of the Norse defense next year.
McFarland was a brilliant on-the-ball defender. His “pass first, shoot later” mentality played a critical part in his play this year. He and fellow guard Finnell led the team in assist-to-turnover ratio this past year. Both had ratios of about 2-to-1.
Keep an eye on junior Vincent Humphrey, who also returns for the Norse. Humphrey appears ready for a breakout senior season. He and Finnell are the two leading returning scorers, averaging 7.5 points per game last year.
Humphrey, a former Valparaiso University guard, was the fourth Division I transfer on the squad this year. In all likelihood, he will be the primary scorer for the Norse next year. He shot nearly 50 percent overall from the field and made 43 percent from behind the three-point line. Humphrey has been known to knock down key free throws dating back to his days at Valparaiso. He made more than 78 percent of his free throws last season.
Although no so-called superstar is returning, things seem to be looking up for NKU despite the loss of the talented seniors. The team has a good chance of repeating its success in the Great Lakes Valley Conference as the it continues to develop.
After all, you can’t start planning early enough for next year. October’s only seven months away.