2014 Frontier Basketball Preview: Posts
Great post players create many balanced teams in the Frontier
December 27, 2013
There’s no question the talent at the guard position in Frontier Conference men’s basketball is outstanding this season. But there’s no shortage of great post players either, and it seems just about every team which has a great guard, also has a big man to go with him.
The Montana State University-Northern Lights have never been one of the bigger teams in the league under head coach Shawn Huse. But the Lights have certainly got great post play out of some undersized bigs in his tenure, and this season in the Frontier will be no different.
Corbin Pearson returns for his junior season for the Lights, and though he stands just 6-6, Pearson has always played much bigger and stronger for MSU-N. And with two full seasons of Frontier battles under his belt, Pearson is now one of the top post players in the conference, and so far this season, he’s averaging 11 points and five rebounds per outing. Pearson enjoyed Frontier All-Conference honors a season ago.
Alongside Pearson is another junior, 6-5 Jesse Vaughan. In the post, Vaughan has excellent back-to-the-basket skills, but what makes him so dangerous is his versatility and his ball handling. Vaughan can break players down off the dribble, and is an outstanding 3-point shooter, which means he’s extremely difficult for other, taller bigs to guards. All of Vaughan’s skills led to All-Conference honors last season, and so far this year, he’s putting in nine points and grabbing four rebounds per night.
Northern also had another post player playing lights out basketball in the early season in 6-4 senior Will Perry. Perry was showing tremendous ability to dominate a game for the Lights, but he suffered a knee injury and hasn’t played since mid-November.
Here’s a look at the top post players from the rest of the Frontier Conference
The Rocky Mountain College Bears won a national championship five years ago because they had such a strong inside game. It’s no coincidence the Bears are back in NAIA contention again, and they have two of the best post players in the Frontier. Junior Joel Barndt (6-9) has been a rebounding machine the last two seasons, but he’s really upping his offensive play as well.
A returning All-Conference performer, Barndt is averaging a double-double so far this season, scoring 19 points per game and grabbing 10 rebounds. Barndt also has the perfect compliment in the paint in 6-6 senior Jeremy Nicholas. A smooth and dynamic scorer, Nicholas earned All-Conference accolades a year ago. He’s a strong inside player who can also step outside and shoot, and he runs the floor extremely well. Nicholas was averaging 15 points per game before suffering an injury, but when he’s healthy, he’s one of the most talented players in the Frontier.
Montana Tech has a nearly unstoppable force as well. Junior Adam Greger (6-7) is already a two-time All-Conference star, and a legitimate Frontier MVP candidate. Greger can go to work in the paint, but he plays like a European big man, with the ability to shoot the three, to drive from the perimeter and run the break. Averaging 19 points and five rebounds per game this season, Greger will be a force every night in league play.
UM-Western may have great guards, but the play of 6-8 center Jake Owsley is essential the Bulldogs success. Owsley earned All-Conference honors a season ago, and helped the Bulldogs to an NAIA tourney run. He plays like a true center, clogging the paint, getting rebounds and blocking shots. But in his senior season, Owsley is also averaging 15 points per game, and will be tough for anyone in the league to guard this winter.
Westminster College has also been a guard-oriented team, but like Northern, the Griffins always get the most out of undersized post players. And 6-6 Tallon Robertson fits the mold. Robertson is a true scorer, he can shoot and he can drive to the basket. But he also gives the Griffins a strong inside presence on the defensive end. This season, Robertson is averaging 16 points per game and shooting better than 40 percent from three. Meanwhile, Carroll also has a true scorer that plays big in 6-5 Dennis Mikelonis. An All-Conference standout a year ago, Mikelonis is picking up where he left off, averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game. Mikelonis is also known as a tenacious defender, and he should help Carroll climb back into the thick of the Frontier Conference race.