Key Stats (2009-2010): 84 Offensive Rating, 19.4 percent of possessions used, 30.1 percent assist rate (81st in the country), 34.5 percent turnover rate.
2010-11 Season Key Players - Courtney Stanley, Loyola
This is the second in a series of five posts previewing five players that are going to be keys to the 2010-11 college basketball season in Chicago. (One for each school.) These profiles aren't necessarily about the best player, but a player I expect will make a meaningful impact this season.
Courtney Stanley is the ultimate in risk vs. reward play-makers. He has the ability to wow you, but he can also be immensely frustrating at times. Last season he had performances like the 10 point, 11 assist effort in a 76-73 victory over Holy Cross and 18 points and 9 assists in a 92-85 victory over Youngstown State, but also 7 turnovers in a 59-42 loss to Detroit. He is one of the best passers in the Horizon League, but his point guard skills won't get that respect until he learns to play better with the ball in his hands.
Of course the good thing for Loyola is that Stanley was just a sophomore, getting his first real action, last season. He wasn't really prepared for the grind of starting for an entire season, especially as he was being asked to play 31.5 minutes per game, the most of any Rambler. How will a year of experience impact Stanley's game?
Those stats do a good job of beginning to approximate Stanley's value last season. When he kept his turnovers down the team prospered, but in general he's a player you want giving the ball up to an open teammate before the possession ends. A 100 offensive rating is average, and with the ball in his hands Stanley was a below average performer, mostly due to his turnovers. He is going to have to learn to hang onto the basketball.
Stanley's shooting could also use some work, but there are encouraging signs that he has put in the effort this off season to improve that part of his game. At Loyola's Midnight Madness Andy Polka said that he was upset Stanley had gotten banged up a bit when arriving on campus because he wanted to see his progress. Still, Stanley's career 52 percent free throw shooting percentage suggests he'll never be even a very good shooter.
But it's not shooting the basketball where Stanley will make a difference, thus it should also be the case that Stanley's game, along with possibly Polka's and Terrance Hill's, are the ones that will benefit from a year of continuity in the rotation. Those three players are the creators on Loyola's roster and each will be helped by not having to spend a long time figuring out where players like to receive passes and where their teammates will be on the court.
Another thing that can help Stanley's development is getting a backup that Jim Whitesell trusts behind him. It seems like Whitesell would like one of Ryan Sterling, Gabe Kindred, Denzel Brito and Chim Kadima to fulfill that role. My guess is that it will be Sterling this year, but watch out for Kindred, everyone raves about him. If Stanley had a true backup then Whitesell would be able to sit him down if he's struggling or help him slow down. Stanley would also just be able to get some rest.
Stanley is always going to be a high-risk, high-reward point guard, but with a few tweaks to his game, a little more strength, and a little more rest he could be a player that makes a big difference for the Ramblers in the Horizon League.