Commentary: Role players like Wilson make most of limited minutes
Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 10:02
Freshman forward Kasey Wilson apparently doesn't need much time to show what he can do.
It seems like the athletic freshman from North Port, Fla., has been making the most of the opportunities coach Donnie Jones has thrown his way this season: a minute of playing time here, three or four minutes there.
Click here to see what coach Donnie Jones had to say about the team's victory.
However long he's out there, Wilson has been getting attention from plenty of people, teammates included. Just ask senior point guard A.J. Rompza.
"What I love about Kasey … is there are games where he won't play at all. … But the thing with him is he stays confident," Rompza said.
Saturday, during the Knights' 64-55 win over East Carolina, Wilson got 12 minutes of playing time, and did he ever make the most of those 12 minutes.
Wilson went three-for-three from the field, one of which was a 3-pointer. The freshman forward finished with nine points and six rebounds in those 12 minutes. It's the kind of productivity off of the bench that Jones will take any day of the week.
"Every time we put him in he just accepts whatever we give him," Jones said. "He just continues to produce for us, which has been so helpful for our team."
For Wilson, it's all about confidence and comfort.
"I'm getting more comfortable," Wilson said. "Coach trusts me more."
That trust is apparent, as those short appearances on the floor for Wilson have popped up more and more in important games and tense situations.
"You see that I put him in at the end of the game, as well," Jones said.
It's been a recurring theme for the Knights this season: role players stepping up and making the most of limited minutes, and Wilson isn't alone. Sophomore forward Tristan Spurlock has demonstrated an ability to hit a big 3-pointer and grab a big rebound, and senior forward P.J. Gaynor has fired up his teammates and the crowd at UCF Arena with big dunks.
For a team that a season ago was limited by its lack of depth, the improved product on the floor this season and the hopes for a postseason appearance have been anchored by a renewed depth of players who can step up.
The Knights are hanging on to hopes of being a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament by a thread. UCF also wouldn't mind playing in the National Invitation Tournament, a step up from last year's College Basketball Invitational appearance. If either of those things is going to happen, it's going to depend on the contributions of role players making the most of their limited minutes — like Wilson.
"You go into the gym at 11 or 12 at night, there are six or seven guys in there [practicing]," Rompza said. "I just think that's the difference, when you have people who want it as opposed to people who just talk about it."