TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, March 24, 2004
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Making the Grade

Starters
Corey Santee: A-
2004 statistics: 14.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 spg

Santee led the Frogs on offense nearly every game this season in every category. He was also the team’s floor general on both ends, directing the team for an average of 33 minutes a contest. The junior guard was the team leader in points, assists, steals and minutes. Whenever the Frogs needed a big bucket or wanted to end a prolonged scoring drought, Santee was willing to put the team on his shoulders and take the shot. And if he thought another player had a better look at the basket, he made sure to deliver him a good pass. Santee’s great year earned him third-team All-Conference USA honors. In his first game, after earning conference honors, Santee led the Frogs to a thrilling last-second victory over Marquette in the first round of the C-USA tournament, keeping the team’s faint hopes of an at large berth to the NCAA tournament alive.

Marcus Shropshire: B+
2004 statistics: 13.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.8 spg

The junior transfer from Texas Tech lived up to Neil Dougherty’s every expectation. Shropshire was the perfect complement to Santee in the backcourt. He provided the Frogs with a second consistent scoring weapon, which allowed open looks for the other players on the court. From behind the 3-point arc, there weren’t many players in C-USA who could hit as frequently as Shropshire. In fact, his coach calls his 3-point stroke “deadly.” His shooting from beyond the arch was so deadly that he shot a higher percentage behind it (.396) than he did from the rest of the field (.394). Shropshire saved his deadliest shooting for the free-throw line, where he led the team at a 93 percent clip. On a team that shot 67 percent from the line, Shropshire’s accuracy is the reason that figure isn’t even more unimpressive.

Nucleus Smith: B-
2004 statistics: 8.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2 apg, 0.8 spg

As the only senior to see significant action this season due to a Ronald Hobbs season-long injury, Smith played the role of leader very well. He was never worried about individual statistics or getting any of the glory. Instead, he just tried to lead this young team in the right direction and to a winning season. This was never more evident than in the Frogs blowout win over No. 10 Louisville, where he played one of the best games of his career, scoring 17 points, grabbing six rebounds and recording three steals. The senior called it the biggest win of his career and you could tell he wanted that victory more than any other game, as he was constantly on the floor diving for every loose ball. Without Smith and his leadership, the Frogs’ great improvement over the season, especially in C-USA action, wouldn’t have been as noticeable.

Chudi Chinweze: B-
2004 statistics: 10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.5 bpg

Chinweze made great strides in his sophomore season. He may have been the team’s third-leading scorer, but it was his accuracy from the floor that made him such a valuable commodity. Chinweze led the Frogs in shooting at an impressive 56 percent clip. As gaudy as his performance from the field was this season, he continues to have trouble from the free-throw line, where he shot only 61 percent for the year. The sophomore needs to improve on this part of his game in order for the Frogs to take their game to the next level. With his inside moves and ability to create and make tough leaning jumpers, he will continue to make frequent trips to the line in his remaining two seasons. As a result, it would be in the best interest of him and the team to capitalize on those free points.

Femi Ibikunle: C
2004 statistics: 3.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.4 bpg

You can’t help but marvel at what this freshman might be able to bring to the court someday. He has everything a coach and a team can ever want in a low-post player. Unfortunately, his talent is very raw right now and he’s still learning how to play the game. When Ibikunle finally masters his footwork, passing, low-post moves and decision-making skills, the sky will be the limit. The freshman center improved his game a lot over the course of the season, but foul trouble and a propensity to turn the ball over constantly rattled him. As is the case with Chinweze, Ibikunle must improve his free-throw shooting over the off-season. He shot 48 percent on the year from the charity strip. With more practice and game experience, he will continue to improve and become a menace for teams in C-USA and the Mountain West.

Bench
Aaron Curtis, Corey Valsin, Blake Adams, Marcus Sloan, Art Pierce, Neil Dougherty, Jr., David Markley: C
2004 statistics: 16.6 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 2.4 apg

For most of the season, Aaron Curtis and Marcus Sloan were the highlight of the bench. Curtis was the leading scorer at 5 points a game while Sloan led the way in rebounding with 3.5 boards a game. Sloan really came on late in the season off the bench and dominated the offensive glass the last few weeks of the season. Blake Adams showed he can be a 3-point threat, connecting on 35 percent of his attempts. Freshman Art Pierce was inconsistent much of the season. As a unit, the bench needs to do a better job of providing the team with a spark. The Frogs lack a proven sixth man who can come in and change the pace of the game. Someone needs to step up and give the team a consistent lift off the bench.

 
 
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