Over the past couple of seasons, North Dakota has had an excellent starting lineup, but there has been a drop-off when they have gone to the bench. This season, that has the chance to be different. UND has their deepest team in a long time, and that depth will be a big help. So, let's take a look at the bench and see who the key contributors might be.
When assessing the bench, it's obviously important to know who the starters will be. For the purposes of this post (I don't know what the lineup will actually be), here is the starting lineup I am going with:
G Aaron Anderson
G Jamal Webb
F Troy Huff
F Jaron Nash
C Brandon Brekke
At the PG spot, the most likely guy to see minutes behind Webb is junior Lenny Antwi. Antwi is a good outside shooter (36% from three), but has some holes in his game. His Assist Rate was 7.0 compared to a TO Rate of 22.0, which is a really bad ratio for a ballhandler. He also shot just 50% from the stripe (7/14) and 35% on twos, so there is room for improvement all around. He could be pushed for minutes by freshman Quinton Hooker. UND is very high on Hooker, and while it might make sense to redshirt him, we still might see him out on the court. He earned a lot of high school accolades in the Twin Cities area.
At the two and three spots, the first backup would be senior Josh Schuler. He has started at many points in his career, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him in the starting lineup somehow, but it makes more sense to bring him off the bench. He shot 37% from downtown last year, and has always taken very good care of the basketball. He is a guy that can provide an offensive spark. Even if he doesn't start, he will see starter-type minutes. Another guy in the mix is sophomore Shane Benton. It took Benton a while to get comfortable last year, but he scored in double digits three times in conference games. I'm not sure how many minutes they will have for him this year, but he is clearly a big factor in UND's plans going forward.
Another guy to watch is Cole Stefan, if he gains eligibility this season. He is an excellent shooter that will be a big boost for the lineup. My current guess would be if Jaron Nash didn't get eligibility last year, Stefan may not this year... but it is something to watch.
In particular, the added depth should be huge upfront for UND, which has been very thin in this area in recent years. Alonzo Traylor was ineligible for the second semester last year, but I really liked his game when he did play. He was a versatile frontcourt scorer, and scored 30 points in his last two games last season. He is an excellent rebounder, and had a 13.8 OR% and 21.6 DR% in his time. Against SUU in his final game last year, he had 13 points and 11 rebounds. As long as he is eligible, he would be a capable starter for them.
Chad Calcaterra is a transfer from Colorado State and Western Nebraska CC. He does have some NCAA tournament experience for the Rams, and averaged 3.6 PPG last year for Western Nebraska. Ryan Salmonson redshirted last year, and provides nice depth after averaging 9.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG at a junior college in his sophomore season.
Who do you guys think will be the biggest contributors?
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