Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Scouts say Stempin not getting any help

Chuck Douglas is the director of player personnel for the Washington Wizards, so he's used to watching bad basketball and critiquing potential NBA prospects.

There may not be a Division I-A team in the country struggling through a worse shooting slump right now than the University of Toledo, which plays host to Ohio University tonight at Savage Hall.

The Rockets can't make field goals or 3-pointers. And Douglas was there to see it first-hand Monday night in Huntington, W.Va., where Marshall handed UT its fourth straight loss, 72-57.

UT senior Greg Stempin also has been struggling, but Douglas said the 6-8 forward shouldn't be blamed for the Rockets' poor shot selection or shooting woes.

Stempin, who has said his teammates are playing “selfish basketball,'' is among the candidates for the Mid-American Conference player of the year award, along with Marshall's J.R. VanHoose and Tamar Slay, and Central Michigan's David Webber.

“Stempin's teammates are not doing anything for him - they're not getting him any open shots,'' Douglas said. “He's trying to step up and make plays, but the other four guys on the floor are not getting him the ball. They have to start doing things a little more consistently and help him out.''

Stempin's numbers are down - way down - during UT's losing streak as he gets fewer touches in crucial situations.

In UT's first 15 games, Stempin shot 49.7 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from 3-point range while averaging 17.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in 36.4 minutes.

The past four games, Stempin is shooting 33 percent (19 of 57) and 5 percent from beyond the arc (1 of 20) while averaging 12.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in 33.7 minutes.

He also has committed 11 turnovers and made four assists, while making 10 of 17 free throws.

Still, Douglas and Bob Zuffelato, director of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors, like Stempin's work ethic.

Stempin, who seems reluctant at times to drive to the basket, is averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds for the season, while connecting on just 51 of 105 free throws.

“He plays hard and he really knows how to play,'' Zuffelato said. “He positions himself very well. He's pretty versatile. I like his fundamentals. I like his intensity.

“His game is in a bit of a funk right now, but Toledo's in a funk. The thing he has to do is not get depressed, and keep shooting, because shooters have to shoot. He also needs to learn how to get some points other ways, like offensive rebounding or running the floor a little harder.''

Stempin, the Rockets' team captain, admits he's more frustrated than he's been in his four seasons at UT.

“We're playing terrible right now,'' he said. “Until we realize we have to start playing together, we're not going to win very many games. We just can't score.''

Stempin, though slumping, continues to score points with the NBA scouts, who project him as a small forward.

There were six scouts at the game Monday night, and all said they expected Stempin to be invited to the prestigious Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament in April.

Over the years, Portsmouth has hosted a Who's Who of NBA players who benefited from the extra exposure they received from fine play at the tournament, including superstars John Stockton, Scottie Pippen and Tim Hardaway.

In recent years, Theo Ratliff, Shandon Anderson, Terrell Brandon, P.J. Brown and Antonio Davis impressed NBA personnel with their play at Portsmouth.

“The positive is he (Stempin) continues to play hard, regardless of the score or how his team's doing, or how much he's struggling,'' Douglas said. “He's trying to do whatever he can. There isn't a scout or personnel director in the NBA who wouldn't appreciate that.''

VALPARAISO, Ind. - Homer Drew picked up his 200th coaching victory at Valparaiso from a hospital bed.

Drew, 56, was hospitalized Friday night with chest pain, and an angiogram was performed on Saturday. No blockage was found, and doctors determined that medication would suffice.

His son, assistant coach Scott Drew, coached in his place in Saturday's 89-57 victory over Oakland. Homer Drew was back with the team for practice on Sunday and back on the sideline in Monday night's 77-69 overtime victory over Western Illinois.

“When we started losing our lead, the hospital was looking pretty good to me,” Drew said of the frantic closing minutes of regulation. “But I'm happy I stuck around for the five minutes of overtime.”

Drew is in his 13th season at Valparaiso and has taken the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament in each of the past five years. In 1998, Drew led Valpo to wins over Mississippi and Florida State to reach the Sweet 16.

His overall coaching record is 469-297, including stops at Bethel College and Indiana-South Bend.

Another son, Bryce Drew, is Valparaiso's career scoring leader and now plays for the NBA Chicago Bulls.

His daughter, Dana, graduated from UT (played basketball 1990-94) and is third on the all-time career scoring list.

Valpo is 15-6 and 6-2 in the Mid-Continent Conference this season.

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