When it comes to foreign trips and the WAC, Grand Canyon’s shortened-trip to Spain will, rightfully, get the most attention. Fortunately the Lopes and their traveling party were safe after the terrorist attack in Barcelona.
But they weren’t the only league team to head overseas. Chicago State spent five days in the Bahamas playing three exhibition games against local teams. Tracy Dildy talked about the benefits of playing “older players in the Caribbean” earlier in the summer.
Results against the competition on these trips should always be taken with a grain of salt. But hey, we’ve got actual box scores, so let’s see what we can glean about the 2017-18 Cougars.
Fred Sims Jr. is going to shoot the ball
Sims, Jr. Posts Double-Double as Chicago State Defeats IBA Elite, 87-79 in Bahamas Opener https://t.co/9tpNUHTRwo— ChicagoStateCougars (@ChiStateCougars) August 12, 2017
This one doesn’t come as a surprise.
Last season, Sims shot 36.4 percent of CSU’s shots while he was on the floor, the fifth-highest percentage in the country. That figure shouldn’t change much in 2017-18, as the junior took 58 shots over the three games in the Bahamas. He shot just 37.9 percent, but that number is skewed by a 4-for-22 outing in the finale.
With all the shots come what Sims is best at: scoring. He averaged 20.3 PPG on the trip and it would not at all be surprising to see him sitting on a number like that at the end of the season. The WAC has some strong contenders for the scoring title in 2017-18, like Damiyne Durham and Nick Dixon. Sims should be right in that conversation.
Some three-point relief?
Dildy talked up two of his redshirt players in an interview with Mid-Major Madness in June.
“Our best two players last year were two kids sitting out, Jelani Pruitt and Travon Bell. Everyday at practice, talking about confidence and skill level it wasn’t close that those two were the best two players on the team,” he said.
Pruitt didn’t make the trip, but Bell did, and showed a little of why Dildy is excited to have him available. The Chicago Public School standout averaged 15.0 points per game in relatively limited minutes (19.0 MPG). He also may have given a glimpse into what his role will be: three-point gunner.
The redshirt freshman hoisted 28 three’s over the three games, knocking down 13 of them for a sterling 46.4 percent. After a rough opener (1-6 3FG) he went 8-for-12 from deep against the NPBA All-Stars. Again, the level of competition needs to be considered, but CSU sorely needs three-point shooting. As a team the Cougars shot just 30.4 percent last season, one of the lowest marks in the country.
A newcomer may already have all the trust
JuCo transfer Anthony Harris may have an early track to big minutes. Dildy heaped praise on the 6’5’’ junior and teased his important role in a release earlier this summer.
Anthony is a guy that really takes a lot of pride on the defensive end. His ability to guard multiple positions is going to be really huge for us. I already told him during the recruiting process that whoever we play, you're going to guard their leading scorer and he welcomes that challenge.
The numbers from the trip suggest Harrus will indeed be a cog in the Cougars’ rotation. He played 102 minutes over the three games (34.0 MPG), second only to Sims, the incumbent star. The presumptive defensive stopper pitched in all over the place, averaging 15.3 points, 5.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. And while averages can get a bit wonky on these trips, he did also swipe 13 steals.
Thanks to CSU Sports Information Director Corey Miggins for sharing aggregate stats from the trip.