Boys Prep Hoops Preseason Countdown: #8 SNIDER PANTHERS
The big man is gone, but Snider coach Jeremy Rauch is still excited entering his second year. With an expected dropoff due to roster attrition, could the Panthers emerge as the surprise team of the SAC?
With Malik Williams off to Louisville and fellow impact graduated seniors Jordan Gorman and Michael Barnfield having departed, the Panthers will have a new look this season.
A team largely built around the skills of one player a year ago now has the opportunity to succeed as a cohesive unit.
“I am excited about this year because we will have to be by committee,” Rauch said. “We will have to play well together. We will have to play hard. Those are things we didn’t always pay attention to as much last year because our talent was enough a lot of times to overcome.”
Snider lacks a true back-to-the-basket type player up front, but that is nothing new. While the 7-foot Williams was considered a center, he was a wing player in many ways for the Panthers, to the point that he led Snider in three-point makes last season (44-of-122).
The 6-foot-6 sophomore Dillon Duff (3.0 points per game, 1.1 rebounds per game) will be expected to play a much greater role on both ends of the court this season. He showed flashes as a freshman, but wasn’t needed to provide much in key moments.
Big defensive lineman Lawrence Johnson is expected to return for his senior season, despite being committed to Purdue for football.
“Without Malik, we don’t have any real interior defensive presence,” Rauch said. “LJ can bring that for us.”
Senior Keondre Brown is Snider’s leading returning scorer after averaging 9.9 points per game as a junior. He and fellow senior Jonqwell Lee will be the starting backcourt, one that some believe can surprise in the SAC this season.
Sophomore Isaac Farnsworth, a Lakewood Park transfer, is a vocal floor leader who plays with a motor. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds a game last year as a freshman.
There are a multitude of underclassmen that will provide key bench options for Rauch, but are unproven commodities.
THE BIG QUESTION: Who scores other than Keondre Brown?
Only about 15 points of Snider’s 64 points-per-game average of a season ago is back, and 10 of those points came from Keondre Brown.
Rauch knows he needs other scorers to emerge and emerge quickly. Good thing he has a wealth of players in which to choose from.
“On any given night, who knows who will be the high man on the night (in scoring),” Rauch said. “We have a lot of sophomores who have a lot of talent and potential.”
Expect the Panthers to be just as fast running the floor offensively, if not more so.
“The advantage we have over last year is we have more guys who have the ability to play fast,” Rauch said. “Anybody who gets the rebound can lead the fast break.”
BIG GAME TO WATCH: Dec. 8 at Wayne
Many will say the game one week later at rival North Side is the game to watch, but in reality, it is the game at Wayne that will be telling.
Can Snider compete against a team projected to be in the top 3 in the league? Wayne has a wealth of experience and talent on the roster. If the Panthers can grow up quickly and compete against the Generals, it bodes well for the rest of the season against a tough schedule.