At a glance:
(2017-18 Record: 8-15, 3-8 War Eagle)
Key returners: Nick Jacobs, Senior (20.5 PPG; 2nd in assists and steals)
Aaron Hartman (10.8 PPG; Led team in rebounds)
Key losses: Conner Anderson
AKRON — What was an 8-15 record last season could have easily been a winning record if the team had flipped the final score in their four games decided by five points or less. While getting those wins would have changed the team’s final record, it wouldn’t have changed the team’s underlying lack of consistency. In the team’s wins they averaged nearly 70 points per game while in their losses they scored just an average of 53 points.
“We think we’ll be an improved basketball team,” A-W Head Coach Jon Harris said. “We’re hoping to improve on our defense which held us back a couple of times. We think the offense will be there. We’ve got several kids who can score the ball. We need to step it up on defense as a team to win those closer ballgames.”
3-point shooting was the team’s main offensive weapon last season and there were nights when it went fantastic and other nights, not so much. Even in games the team lost, the Westerners still usually made a handful of triples, thus disguising the reality of deficiencies in other aspects of the game.
3-point shooting isn’t likely to go away even with the graduation of Conner Anderson who made 63 last year. That’s because the team returns Nick Jacobs who made 100-of-250 3-point attempts as only one player in the entire state made more shots from beyond the arc last year than Jacobs.
Jacobs averaged over 20 points per game last year and was top three on the team in rebounds, assists and steals as well. Jacobs will continue to get plenty of touches this year, but if the Westerners are going to find more success in the win column, they will need to put some pieces around him.
Aaron Hartman returns in the post as the team’s main scoring threat behind Jacobs and Anderson last year as he dropped in nearly 11 points per game.
Leighton Blake, Chris Steffen and Colton Denison represent returning players who the team would like to see more output from as well as Reagan Frankl who averaged 9.1 points per game two years ago as a sophomore but who didn’t play last year.
A greater emphasis on defense could go a long way in improving A-W’s overall record this season as the team shouldn’t have much trouble finding offense this winter.