|Golden Bulls basketball gets with the program for 2018-19 campaign|
|20-11 JCSU loses all-CIAA backcourt|
|Published Thursday, March 8, 2018|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Johnson C. Smith, which went 20-11 and advanced to the CIAA tournament final, loses their all-conference backcourt and top big man to graduation.|
Major change is coming to Johnson C. Smith basketball.
The Golden Bulls, who put together a 20-win season (20-11) for the first time since 2009, lose their all-CIAA backcourt, starting center and key frontcourt reserve from a team that advanced to the tournament championship last week. In order to repeat as South Division champion in 2018, JCSU will need to restock a chunk of its offense either through recruiting or promotion from the bench.
Six seniors have exhausted their eligibility, including shooting guard Robert Davis, the CIAA player of the year and the league’s top scorer at 21.6 points per game. Davis may be the toughest to replace, not only because of his offense but because of his work ethic and leadership. He’s low-key, but was a calming influence on and off the court.
Point guard Christian Kirchman led the CIAA in assists with 191 as well as averaging 13.6 points per game, third-best among the Golden Bulls. Kirchman was more consistent as a decision-maker as a senior, which explains the parallel between his most-productive season and JCSU’s offensive bottom line, in which the Golden Bulls averaged 77.3 points a game.
Center Arthur Bennett lost weight and gained confidence as a senior, which made him arguably JCSU’s most-improved player. He averaged 8.1 points per game, but more important, became a dependable asset on both ends of the floor as the season wore on. Bennett started the season on the bench, but his offensive efficiency (8.1 ppg and team-best 64.4 percent shooting) earned him a starting job.
Backup center Jonathan Curtis was a capable reserve in a limited role, averaging 4.8 points on 53.3 shooting, and at 6-foot-8 pulled down 72 rebounds in 18 games played. Malik Ford, who started nine games, lost minutes to Bennett and Curtis and averaged 2.2 ppg.
All-CIAA forward Roddric Ross stepped up his game at tournament time, averaging 21.5 points in JCSU’s two wins. He averaged 14.8 ppg, second-best among Golden Bulls, and was adept at scoring from the perimeter as well as driving to the basket. Ross is positioned to become the focal point of next season’s squad as a senior.
Sophomore Cayse Minor blended in capably, averaging 9.2 ppg and shooting 47.5 percent from the floor as the Golden Bulls’ swingman. Because he can play small forward or shooting guard, JCSU has flexibility in where he fits in the lineup.
Junior Michael Bowman adds bulk at small forward while Aaron Adair brings length as a 6-6 swingman. Will either be able to move up to the starting lineup?
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