Friday, February 21, 2014

Identifying Some "Glue" Players On Men's Teams

Here's another installment in the series identifying "glue players" from around the league, players whose contributions to a program go behind mere statistics.

We ID'd women glue players previously. Time, now, for men and we'll start from the top of the current standings and work down.

IONA: Trevon Sledge.

The 5-9 junior guard surely expected to be playing more than his current 11.2 minutes per game he has been getting this season. After all, he started 26 times last season, averaging 25.3 minutes per contest. But, Sledge appears to have taken on the reduced role with his typical enthusiasm and has provided a spark coming off the bench. His role as point guard has been taken over by superlative sophomore A.J. English, who is tough to keep off the court. But when Sledge gets in his effectiveness has not been diminished. He has 29 assists on the season against just five turnovers, a terrific assist-to-turnover ratio.

MANHATTAN: Rashon Stores

He might have been the least-heralded of last season's all-Rookie team in the MAAC, and he remains an easy-to-overlook player. But, the 5-11 guard's contributions to the Jaspers go far beyond what the stat sheets indicate. He is a quick defender who wreaks havoc on opposing ball-handlers. His 33 steals this season ranks only five shy of the team leadership, despite playing just 21.9 minutes per game. He is relatively mistake-free with the ball, having 50 assists against just 24 turnovers. And, of late, he has committed just six turnovers, against 11 assists, in the last eight games.


The junior guard appeared to be in line to move into the starting lineup full time this year. He had 22 starts a year ago while averaging 8.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. In a reduced off-the-bench role this season, though, Conti remains a valuable contributor even if his scoring and rebounding numbers are less than half what they were a year ago. His assist-to-turnover ratio, though, is better than 2.5-to-1, an exemplary number. His insertion into games has usually given the Bobcats a spark. He had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and just one turnover in his team's most-recent game, a victory over Canisius on Thursday.

CANISIUS: Phil Valenti

The 6-7 forward was woefully thin when he enrolled at Canisius last year. He still barely checks a little south of 200 pounds, but had clearly worked on both adding some bulk to his body and some effectiveness to his game. When starting forward Chris Manhertz missed three games with a broken nose, Valenti moved into the starting lineup and contributed good defense and hustle. Over the last five games he is averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds and, now, returns to providing spark off the bench for the Griffs.

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