WSU HOOPS

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Ask and ye shall receive (unfortunately)

Posted by Jeff Nusser on May 15, 2008

Just one day after lamenting there’s been no WSU basketball news to speak of, the team announced yesterday that Thomas Abercrombie is leaving to pursue professional opportunities back in his homeland of New Zealand.

I’m disappointed, but hardly surprised. His athleticism turned him into somewhat of an urban legend around the program — for his entire redshirt year, all anyone heard was how high the coaching staff was on this long lanky kid who kept destroying people in practice and needed just a little more seasoning before taking the Pac-10 by storm — but he never came close to living up to the hype.

In an offensive and defensive system that relies heavily on precision, it was obvious to even this untrained eye that he was consistently out of position on most possessions. The athleticism was evident in the minutes he got this year, but equally evident was that he didn’t really have any clue how to play Bennett basketball. That’s a pretty huge problem.

Some guys “get” the Bennett system, some guys don’t. It takes a different kind of basketball IQ to play for a guy like Tony Bennett, and while I don’t know anything about Abercrombie personally, one can make a reasonable claim that after two years in the program — one a redshirt in which his sole job was to learn how to play in the system — he should have been a lot farther along in his development than he was. With a six-man recruiting class coming in that includes three guys who basically play his same position, the writing was on the wall.

The thing I’m most sad about, from a purely selfish perspective, is that he’s heading back to New Zealand. I would have loved to see him transfer to another school and watch what he could do in a system that really played to his strengths, one that allowed him to just lock guys down one-on-one on defense and get out and run and run and run on offense.

But it’s not about me, it’s about him, and I feel sad for Abercrombie that it turned out this way. Without that redshirt year, he would have had just two years of eligibility remaining and would have essentially endured two out of three years with no competitive basketball. I probably wouldn’t have chosen that either, not 7,000 miles from home. It’s time for him to get on with his basketball career, and in the right situation, I’m sure he can have a nice one back home.

In the end, it became a numbers game for a guy that never quite seemed to fit. Keep that in mind next time you’re going nuts over the next “can’t miss” recruit — this is just another example of the kind of wacky circumstances that can keep a kid from fulfilling his potential in a program.

Oh, and by the way: Still looking for mailbag questions. I’ve gotten a few already, and I’ll be working on it over the weekend. Continue to fire away here.

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8 Responses to “Ask and ye shall receive (unfortunately)”

  1. MikeR said

    Perhaps this should be a mailbag question (feel free to answer it then), but what kind of impact will this have on our APR score?

    Obviously, it’s not as bad when guys leave while in good academic standing, but will this still have a negative impact?

  2. Ptowncoug said

    I want to thank Longball for once again utilizing his black magic to curse another Coug athletic team. Longball, do us a favor, and start rooting for the Huskies.

  3. Longball said

    Its not my fault, Ptown! The 8 football scholarships on the other hand, that was all me. Sorry.

    There were times this year when i really felt we needed Abercrombie on the floor. I was frustrated that someone like Nic came in last year and could play right away, but Abercrombie wasnt ready yet. It just didnt make sense. Best of luck to the kid, but i think its pretty clear it was a bad fit.

  4. Ptowncoug said

    Breaking news!

    Sounds like DeAngelo Casto received a passing score on his ACT. Of course, the ACT is a sliding scale depending on your core GPA. Not sure if he has all the required courses as of yet, but Casto must have at least scored the minimum ACT score that is required.
    Some good news finally in Coug athletics outside of women’s rowing and T&F.

  5. Coug1990 said

    I saw that over on cougfan. It would be good news if he does make it in, as I think he will be a great help on defense. Also, how many easy assists can Rochestie get when he drives the lane, Casto’s man slides over and helps and Rochestie passes for a dunk. How many times did we see this with Baynes last year.

  6. Nuss said

    “There were times this year when i really felt we needed Abercrombie on the floor. I was frustrated that someone like Nic came in last year and could play right away, but Abercrombie wasnt ready yet. It just didnt make sense.”

    I think it was pretty obvious that Nik was a much more polished player coming in than Abercrombie was. I remember making the comment numerous times in Nik’s first year that the offense just seemed to run so smooth with him on the floor. That never was the case with Abercrombie, unfortunately. His athleticism was tantalizing, but all the athleticism in the world does a player very little good in the Bennett system if he can’t figure out where to be and when.

    As for Casto, that would be great news if it’s true. I have a feeling this team is going to need Casto, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes a night. We’re just far too thin up front, and Baynes — our only legitimate big man — is far too foul prone.

    One thing to remember, though, is the source. You haven’t heard anything out of the program yet, and Grippi hasn’t exactly run with the story yet, either. So just be careful with your enthusiasm.

  7. MikeR said

    I’m intrigued to see what Nik can do for us next year. I’m afraid a lot of fans have written him off, but having a full season between him and his knee injury should really help. The combination of the physical and psychological impact of an ACL injury can be hard in the first year back.

    Before he got hurt, he gave us an interesting weapon offensively — a big(ger) guy who could slash to the basket. Weaver was fairly effective in that role in 07-08 (he didn’t do it as much earlier in his career), so I’m hopeful Nik can fill that void next year. Having a guy who can do that is a big plus when your offense isn’t clicking.

  8. Grady said

    “I would have loved to see him transfer to another school and watch what he could do in a system that really played to his strengths, one that allowed him to just lock guys down one-on-one on defense and get out and run and run and run on offense.”

    Have to disagree with you here out of my own selfishness, because I would hate to see a transfer burn us if we play them down the road. This is one of the main reasons I don’t want to see Cal State Fullerton anytime soon.

    By the way, Akognon has his own Wikipedia page. Derrick Low doesn’t even have one. Ah, the internet.

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