Devron Bostick was supposed to be the player to put the Gophers over the top. He was the supposed to be instant offense, able to take over a game, or even a season. He was supposed to be the guy we always needed, and would be lucky to keep for more than 1 year. However, after two exhibition games, a lot of people are asking what they are supposed to think now.
Even a week ago the hype seemed to justified. Bostick, a junior college transfer from Southwestern Illinois Community College led scored 18.5 points per game last season a long with 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists. The previous season, his numbers were even more impressive. With statistics like that, it is not surprising that he was named the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year. He has been described as a great scorer, deceptively good ball handler, and long. He is supposed to be able to get to the rim at will. And if that wasn’t enough, he is supposed to be able to shoot.
After two exhibition games, he not lived up to expectations, or even come close. In his first game against Saint Cloud State, he was outscored by Travis Busch. Against Northern State on Thursday, he was outscored and generally outplayed by Kevin Payton. It was not just the lack of scoring, it was his lack of involvement in the game. He often looked lost and confused. He played more like Kevin Nathanial than Vincent Grier, the last Junior College transfer to be an impact player on the Gophers.
So, what’s the matter with Devron? It could be nothing. It could be everything. It could last all season or be solved in one night. Among the possibilities
- Absolutely nothing is wrong. Bostick had two bad games, two games that by the way did not count. Every junior college player needs time to adjust, and in a couple weeks we won’t even remember his early struggles.
- Bostick needs to start. He is used to being a star, being the man, and being in the game from the opening tip. Some players have a hard time getting into the flow of the game, especially coming off the bench. Maybe Tubby Smith should start Bostick in one of the games this weekend, just to see what happens. He won’t do any worse than Travis Busch, and if he does, it won’t make the Gophers lose to Concordia-St. Paul. If he plays well, he makes the team better and deserves to start, so why not give him a shot.
- Bostick just needs more time on the court. Exhibition games create some crazy substitution patterns as coaches try to get everyone some playing time with as many different players as possible. Just when a player gets into the flow of the game, they get taken out. Bostick played quite well on Monday against Saint Cloud State in the first half, but was taken out of the game after less than 4 minutes. He came back in later playing the final 3:41 of the first half. After that, he didn’t get in the game until there were a little more than 6 minutes left in the game, and only stayed on the court for three minutes. After so much time on the bench, he didn’t play well at all. Against Northern State, his longest stint on the court in the first half clocked in at a whopping 4 minutes. He played quite a bit more late in the second half, but the psychological damage may have already been done.
- He is intimidated by Tubby Smith. According Bostick, via Myron Medcalf (caveat emptor). According to Medcalf, Bostick’s poor play is due to Tubby Smith’s reputation as an excellent coach, and because of that Bostick is out of position, and can’t make a jump-shot. As a once upon a time psychology major, perhaps Myron is the one who needs his head checked out.
- The only thing that is wrong is our ridiculous expectations. Down with Goldy, girding his loins against another disappointing season (what else is a reasonable Gopher fan to do?) pointed out months ago to beware of the hype surrounding Junior College players. The top 6 Junior College players in 2007 and 2006 respectively weren’t exactly program changers, and if they live up to expectations, they don’t stick around for their senior season. Minnesota’s good luck with Bobby Jackson and Vincent Grier could just be the exception that proves the rule that most Junior College transfers aren’t impact players
The good news is that the Gophers might not need Bostick to be competitive. There is no shortage of big guards/small forwards on the team now, or coming in next year. Paul Carter is clearly an impact player. Royce White and Rodney Williams look like they’ll be able to contribute immediately. If the best that Bostick can be is a back up, he will definitely be an upgrade, and a bad Bostick is better than a good Busch/Payton any day.