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Rams looking for balance in 2005-06

November 18, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The Shepherd University men's basketball team will be drawing from political sciences this season.

The Rams will become more of a democracy than a dictatorship in 2005-06.

The majority will rule for the Rams as they will employ a more open attack with many more players having the freedom to score. While many coaches would rather have one main go-to player in the mix, two injuries have altered Shepherd coach Ken Tyler's plans.

"I'm hoping we don't need (one focal point player)," Tyler said Thursday during Shepherd's annual winter media day. "I hope we can have four guys score 11 points per game on a consistent basis. We have seven or eight guys on the team who can score more than that at any time and have, but I'm looking for true balance. I hope it will present itself on a nightly basis. It will be my challenge to find the guy with the hot hand."

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The one player who would have dictated the Rams' actions would have been senior Danley Shank. But the Chambersburg, Pa., graduate is using a redshirt season to completely heal from a pair of offseason foot surgeries, taking him out of Tyler's plans.

The second setback came on Nov. 1 when starting sophomore point guard Thomas Carr underwent surgery for a sports hernia which will probably sideline him until the Rams' Dec. 17 game with Bloomsburg, the seventh game of the season.

"Danley had two surgical procedures on his foot in June and July and we were told that he would be healed," Tyler said. "I talked with his doctor and he said that this was only the second time in 15 years of doing the surgery that the bones didn't heal.

"We are going to be without Danley, but it might be refreshing to see how the rest of the team responds. Come December, we are going to have the best practice player in the country. And next year, Danley will be the WVC player of the year. ... I'm putting that on his shoulders right now."

There will be others forced to shoulder much of the responsibility for the Rams' fortunes this season, beginning tonight when Shepherd opens the season by hosting the Clarion Hotel Tip-Off Tournament with Barton, Gannon and Valdosta State.

Yves Moliva will assume the small forward spot left vacant by Shank's injury. The 6-foot-4 Cameroon native started 17 games for Shepherd last season and averaged 4.8 points a game. He will be the main player in charge of trying to fill the void of the 20.4 points per game that is sidelined with Shank.

"Moliva is incredibly talented," Tyler said. "He doesn't know how good he is yet."

Until Carr returns, the point guard duties will be given to Donald Thomas, a 5-10 transfer from the Community College of Baltimore City in the Maryland JuCo Conference. He will be on the spot from the start while trying to compensate for the missing 5.4 points and 3.9 assists per game that were provided by Carr.

"He is the prototypical point guard," Tyler said. "It will be his job to run the offense, set things up and set up the other players. We are counting on him to do great things for us, but he has to cut down on his turnovers."

The rest of Shepherd's starting force will revolve around three seniors - 6-1 shooting guard Chad Myers, 6-9 center Ryan Peterson and 6-6 power forward Darren Stackhouse.

Myers has evolved from part-time role player to occasional starter to one of the main shooters on the team in his four years at Shepherd.

Peterson will be the Rams' version of West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle. He will play inside but will also step out to shoot 3-pointers to help draw defensive big men out from under the basket.

Stackhouse returns as Shepherd's leading rebounder and shooter by percentage, but will become valuable for the Rams because of his versatility. He can battle inside, but also has an outside shot and can play defense from any position.

Shepherd will also be relying on big help from the bench in the form of 7-4 center Matt Slaninka, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for medical hardships; 6-2 freshman Matt Deaner, a Hedgesville graduate; Garrett Community College transfer Jon Mann, a Faith Christian graduate; point guard George Gosk, a Hedgesville graduate; and 6-6 freshman forward Corey Snell.

Tyler said he's counting on summer workouts and living arrangements to create a tight bond for a team which will need to use all its assets to succeed. He can't help but glance over at Ram Stadium, where Shepherd's playoff-bound football team plays, for added focus on the task at hand.

"I want our players to look over at the success the football team is having for motivation and inspiration," Tyler said. "That's what I want this program to be, to be competing for conference championships and NCAA playoffs every year. I'd love to see Danley playing, but it will be refreshing to see if this team can come together."

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