Prime Time League title game will showcase depth

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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It’s been a bumpy ride this season, but Coach Ron Nove’s team has played its way to a title berth and will face the streaking-hot squad led by Randy Larson.

Nove’s players aren’t short on talent, and similar to Larson’s, seem to be figuring things out right when they need to.

Aaron White is the driving force for Nove, averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. But while he also has a plethora of talent around him, it’s been a challenge to get it all operating at the same time.

Much-hyped juco transfer point guard Trey Dickerson has only been able to play in three of the six games thus far, and White missed a game to attend the LeBron James Skills Academy. Northern Iowa’s Deon Mitchell and Marvin Singleton both missed Week 3.

Nove’s team made it to the championship anyway, however, and now all the extra reps for the players further down the bench could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Statistically, Nove has the deepest team in Prime Time, with seven players averaging double figures in scoring, and his opposing coach acknowledges that depth could be important

“I’m a big believer that you have got to play your guys,” Larson said. “We have a lot of guys who can play, and they have a lot of guys, so it will be a good game. There’s a reason these are the teams.”

Larson has been carried this season by the league’s first and fourth leading scorers in Matt Bohannon and Adam Woodbury, but it’s hard to decipher if such star power is more impressive than the contributions Nove has gotten up and down his roster.

White averages 19, and Dickerson averages 16. Northern Iowa has contributed mightily, with Mitchell also averaging 16 and Singleton second on the team at 18. What’s most surprising is the production from players that Hawkeye fans may not recognize.

Kirkwood’s Jordan Ashton has scored 15 points per game and shot 54.5 percent on 3s, making 18-of-33 attempts, by far the best clip at that volume in the league. Christian Swartzentruber, formerly of Mid-Prairie High, comes in at 13 points per game and is shooting 48 percent from outside. Finally, Wartburg’s Clay Cook also pours in 13 per game and collects more than 9 rebounds per game.

Larson has taken pride in how much he calls upon his bench throughout the summer, but the depth versus depth matchup is going to get a little thrown off this week, because star center Woodbury will have to miss the game to play overseas in Estonia. Obviously, that works in Nove’s favor.

“We don’t really have a true post guy,” White said. “So it’s going to help a lot to not have a 7-1 guy down low.”

Losing the biggest body in the league for the championship game is far from ideal for Larson, and Nove’s guys know that will leave the defense vvulnerable at the hoop and will look to exploit that.

“We have a lot of guys who can score,” Dickerson said. “My job is to find those guys. If we play as a team, I think we have a great chance to win the championship.”

The stars seem to be aligning (or un-aligning on the opposite bench) for Nove and company, and if you look at the past, there’s a good chance White will come out of this game with another title.

“Every year I’ve played in [Prime Time], I’ve won it,” he said. “So I have to win it again. Got to go for the sweep.”

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