Perry Poindexter has no one to blame but himself for the high expectations that have followed him throughout his basketball career at Saint Francis.
When a player runs so smoothly and leaps so quickly – oh, and scores 18 points and grabs 18 rebounds in just his fourth collegiate game – fans (and the media) tend to expect greatness every time out.
Veteran Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross isn't necessarily expecting greatness from the 6-foot-8 redshirt junior forward this season, but he certainly is expecting Poindexter to make a much more significant impact – more consistently – than he has throughout his first two seasons.
“It's Perry's time to start to break out,” LaCross said. “You've seen flashes of him, where he has started several games for us, but then get injured. I think he's matured more as a person.”
There was never a bigger “flash” of Poindexter's ability than when he dropped 18 and 18 on Indiana Tech at the start of his collegiate career two years ago. In that first season, Poindexter scored in double figures in six of seven games early in the season, but then did so just once in the final 22 games.
Last year he followed a similar path.
The Indianapolis native put up double figures 10 times in a 14-game stretch, but managed to reach that level of production just three times in his final 17 games. However, two of those times were against NAIA powers Indiana Wesleyan (14 points, five rebounds) and eventual 2017 national runner-up Cornerstone (10 points, four rebounds).
“Last year, he was just kind of up and down,” LaCross said. “We need him to be level-headed, not get too high and not get too low. He can have such a big impact.”
In Poindexter's defense, he has been stuck playing behind some “pretty good players,” according to LaCross.
The Cougars have featured NAIA All-Americans in forwards Bryce Lienhoop and Austin Fox, as well as center Kyle Sovine, which somewhat explains why Poindexter has averaged just 14 minutes per game through the first two years of his career.
“He's been in a role, where he has had to play behind some pretty good players,” LaCross said. “There are programs where Perry is coming into his junior season with two years starting. Here, he has played limited minutes.”
With the graduation of Sovine, that should change, as Poindexter will team with seniors Lienhoop and Stephen Turner up front. He has continued to develop his game and his physical presence (he's gained 20 pounds of muscle at Saint Francis), which should allow him to ease into the larger role.
“He may not be 6-9 (like Sovine),” LaCross said, “but his wingspan is unreal. He's very athletic. He can alter shots. He can run the floor so well and he can do so much.
“He's really put in the time and gotten stronger. He's the one that needs to step up and have a big, big year for us.”
White is back
When former Carroll High School standout guard Chandler White transferred last season from NCAA Division I Toledo to Saint Francis, LaCross envisioned the 6-foot-3 athlete making his presence felt on the national stage. However, as the Cougars began their annual run to the NAIA National Tournament last season, White's game was being hampered more and more by an injured hip.
Of the Cougars' final 11 games, White scored in double figures just three times and was limited to three minutes in a season-ending loss to Cornerstone.
“After the season, we kind of shut him down,” LaCross said. “With his injury, he just needed some time off.”
Over the past five months, White received cortisone shot and underwent rehabilitation – along with lots of rest – and LaCross believes the player that showed impressive moments early last season can return in full force this year for his junior season.
“He's back to where he can have a fresh start this season,” LaCross said.
As impressive as White was at times last season, LaCross was more impressed with him while he wasn't playing.
“The one thing that I'll say about Chandler is that even though he battled though injuries,” LaCross said, “he went from playing a ton, to that last game, but if you watched him on the bench, he was always cheering for his teammates.
“He was a guy that did not care about his stats or whether he was on the floor or off it. He still helped our team. But we're excited that he is healthy and back. He's going to have to have a big year for us.”
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