2013-2014 BOBCATS’ BASKETBALL PREVIEW
Coming off a Midlands Collegiate Athletics Conference (MCAC) Tournament Championship and an Elite Eight appearance in the NAIA Division II National Championship, head coach Steve Shepherd and the 2013-2014 College of the Ozarks Bobcats are looking to pick up right where they left off.
In his 12th season, Coach Shepherd and Assistant Coach Todd Wright (in his 2nd season) are excited for the start of the season and are looking to returning starters Nathane Simniok and Pete Leonard to take leadership roles in this year’s team. Simniok, the Bobcat’s lone senior, finished strong last season, leading the Bobcats in rebounds, steals, and blocks. His exceptional rebounding skills ranked him 10th in NAIA Division II in that category, and his play during the NAIA Tournament landed him on the 2013 NAIA All-Tournament Team. In addition to being able to score inside, Simniok has developed his three-point shot and looks to use it to his team’s advantage. Junior forward Pete Leonard is also a competitor, who pushes himself from practice, to the weight room, to the game floor. His intense work ethic is key to his performance on the court. Leonard is a consistent inside scorer and was second only to Simniok in team rebounds a season ago. His terrific low-post moves and hard work have made him a consistent threat to knock down jump shots, which will make him much more difficult to defend.
Junior Kevin Scherer, along with sophomores Ethan Murray and Skyler Frazier, are returning to the court once again. Hampered by injury last year, Scherer is looking to contribute to the team’s success in the coming season as a rebounder and a prominent scorer in the post. Murray, a sophomore guard, is another extremely hard worker who has the talent to score from both the inside and outside. Physically strong, and having the ability to get the ball to the basket, allows him to score a lot of points in a short period of time –a trait that is highly valued by the team. Frazier, who saw a good amount of playing time last season as a freshman, has focused on improving his shots around the perimeter this offseason. The Bobcat coaching staff looks for Frazier to continue his solid rebounding and defensive play. Combined with his ability to score from the inside to the three-point line, he promises to be a threat to opposing defenses.
Rounding out the upperclassmen are Derek Daniels, J.T. Nixon, and Alex Santiago. Junior Derek Daniels, a transfer from Drury University, will bring leadership and a winning attitude to the Bobcat program. Known for his three-point range, excellent passing skills, and court sense, he should be a tough match up for opponents due to his size and ability to not only shoot the 3 but also post up. Junior guard J.T. Nixon brings great shooting abilities and sound defensive play to the floor. His gift for knocking down the open shot will keep opposing defenses on their toes. Alex Santiago, who transferred from Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas, is a quick-scoring point guard who specializes in three-pointers and taking the ball to the basket. Coach Shepherd looks for Santiago to be a strong defensive presence since he is aggressive and not afraid to get on the floor.
Six freshmen complete this year’s Bobcats, each bringing a variety of talents and strengths to the collegiate level. Graham Gardner, from Benton, Arkansas, is a skilled post player who is also capable of stepping outside and hitting mid-range shots. Known for his high basketball IQ on both ends of the floor, Gardner will take up space in the lane and make his presence known on the defensive end. Guard Chandler Hall from Branson High School is a multi-purpose player, who is both skilled and athletic. He is known for draining three-pointers and effectively scoring down low, making him a threat any time the ball is in his hands. Defensively, his talent for guarding both post and perimeter players, along with strong rebounding, makes him a great new asset to the team. Brett Krisik, from Ozark, Missouri, brings to the table great defensive athleticism and the unique ability to play many different positions. He is not only a solid three-point shooter, but good at scoring inside. Cameron Paschke, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, played at the Class 7A level in Arkansas and is accustomed to winning. He is a true point-guard who can score, and Coach Shepherd looks to Paschke to be a good floor leader. Nathan Reid, of Carthage, Missouri, is a very versatile player, who is known for finishing well when driving to the basket. He is also a strong three-point shooter with an effective mid-range game. A very athletic and talented player, Nathan looks to be a key defensive asset as a rebounder. Selby, from Reeds Spring, Missouri, is effective around the basket and possesses the adeptness to drive into a powerful defensive presence. He has displayed great skill around the basket and continues to work on becoming a consistent mid-range shooter. Joe Young, a transfer from Johnson County Community College, played his high school ball in Rogersville and is known for being very intense on the court. He brings not only a winning attitude, but also solid playmaking and defensive abilities. Coach Shepherd sees Young as a player who can get the ball to the basket and score.
The Bobcats’ coaching staff is pleased with the balance of players this season, and is excited about having post players who can score inside, solid three-point shooters, and an all-around athletic demeanor. As a team, the Bobcats have good size and should be strong in defense and rebounding. Coach Shepherd is hard at work blending six returning players with nine new young men, and he expects the players will work hard to earn playing time given the team’s great depth. Expectations are high for developing the team’s chemistry and providing Bobcat fans with yet another exciting season.