Big East Coast Bias: The Broncos leaned heavily on David Brown throughout his college career, as he logged over 1,500 points. He’s departed now. How will WMU attempt to make up some of the scoring they’ve lost?
Ben: Not to go all "Moneyball" on you guys, but we have to make up for Brown in the aggregate. No one on the roster has quite the same combo of strength and scoring ability. That being said, starting sophomore point guard Thomas Wilder is skilled at distributing and has a knack for finding a path to the basket. That, combined with high offensive output from a series of experienced and athletic forwards (particularly someone like Kellen McCormick) should help the Broncos replicate what Brown gave us.
BECB: DePaul only has 2 scholarship players taller than six-foot-eight. Will Drake LaMont be a potential X-Factor in this game for the Broncos?
Ben: LaMont's size will definitely be an advantage for the Broncos in this one. He made dramatic improvements over the course of his freshman year and ended up second on the team in rebounds by the end of the season. If he can take control of rebounding Saturday I think it will give Western's guards an opportunity to get scoring.
BECB: The Broncos logged 59 bench points in their exhibition win over Kalamazoo. Are they a deep enough team to get consistent scoring off the bench (obviously not to that extreme), or was this just them taking advantage of a bad team?
Ben: It's really tough to discern how good the bench is after playing an exhibition game. But with David Brown graduated, and Tava on the bench with a broken foot, there's a lot of potential for guys who wouldn't normally see playing time to prove their worth. That also means head coach Steve Hawkins might be experimenting a bit with line-ups. I expect the bench to do well against DePaul, but that's more a product of the Broncos not really knowing what the starting line-up should be at this point in the season.
BECB: Connor Tava is on the shelf with a broken foot. Who steps up in his absence?
Ben: I think we'll see a lot of production from sophomore point guard Thomas Wilder. He made a big impression as a freshman last year, especially with his driving ability. Junior G/F Tucker Haymond will also have to step up. He's the second highest scoring returning scorer on the team (behind the injured Tava), so big things are expected from him. Haymond will also have to do more of a Tava "impersonation" defensively, stepping up to take on DePaul's forwards. Senior forward A.J. Avery will also probably step up in that capacity as well.
BECB: Final Prediction?
Ben: I think Western's still going to be struggling to figure out who takes what roles. We're talented enough to keep it close though. WMU 63, DePaul 70.
Thanks to Ben for giving us a deeper look at Western Michigan. Tip off is set for 8:00 CST at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Lincoln Park. WSCR 670 The Score will carry the game on radio, and The U Too (check listings here) will air it live on TV.