Rick Ray said a few weeks ago that Colin Borchert was his best player in the final stretch of last season.
Now, as the Bulldogs begin their 2013-14 campaign, the senior forward may be holding onto his spot atop the list after racking up 23 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals in MSU’s exhibition against Auburn-Montgomery.
MSU’s depth in the frontcourt is not what Ray would probably like it to be, but pairing Borchert with Freshman All-SEC player Gavin Ware and hustler-off-the-bench Roquez Johnson, State has a solid trio of forwards.
Borchert arrived at MSU with an offensive pedigree, a 6-9 forward who can shoot threes as well as any guard, something Ray covets in his motion offense. Sunday, Borchert was 8-9 from the floor, 2-2 from behind the arc and 5-6 on the line.
The Bulldogs were strong on defense last year, which is what Ray wanted, though their scoring totals were often low. The coaches, obviously, don’t have a care in the world how many points they score, just so long as it’s more than the other team.
But having more weapons on offense certainly doesn’t hurt things.
On that note, the Bulldogs were able to rack up quite a few points, beating AUM 86-57, with 9-of-10 players getting in the scoring column.
In addition to Borchert, three other players reached double-digits scoring, as guards Craig Sword and Andre Applewhite both tallied 12 and Ware racked up 10 points, as well as 12 rebounds, giving him the game’s only double-double.
We also saw the debut(ish) of freshman point guard IJ Ready, who scored the first points of the game on a driving layup. He scored two points on 1-3 shooting, had four assists and snagged two steals in 22 minutes of game time, with one turnover.
Talking to coaches now in post-game, AUM coach very complimentary of Borchert, saying he was a really impressive player who gave them fits. Said he likes MSU in general and thinks they have a chance to be a really, really good team.
Asked what clicked for him at the end of last year, Borchert said the biggest thing for both him and the team was confidence.
Sword’s face lit up a bit when asked about Ready, said he brings a ton of energy to the team and court.
“We needed that.”
Hey, Ray is here now.
He leads off with praise for Borchert, naturally, then his second point was actually to compliment Andre Applewhite, who wasn’t able to play last year but looked good this afternoon.
On the other side of things, Ray said he needs better individual performances from Fred Thomas and Gavin Ware if his team is going to have success.
Interesting as Ray talks more about Borchert, saying that while point guard is naturally the most important position on any team, the “skilled forward” position Borchert occupies is easily the second-most important and touches the ball more than anyone other than that point guard. Naturally, Borchert playing well in that position means a lot.
Talking more about Sword, Ray said he’s very pleased with how he’s playing and also his maturation as a player. Ray said Sword is seeing the court now, seeing open players and feeling what’s happening behind him.