(Penn State attackman Grant Ament (Photo: Penn State Athletics))
The inaugural season of the PLL is in the books, Whipsnakes LC have been crowned champions, and Archers LC is now on the clock with the first pick in the 2020 PLL draft.
The Archers already have a very strong club with studs all over the field, like every team in the PLL. Because of that, there aren’t many holes that Archers need to be filled. However, there are aspects of their play that can be tuned up and polished with the addition of a player or two.
Who the Archers pick first in the 2020 draft will be predicated on Pat Spencer- whom they selected first overall in 2019. The 2019 Tewaaraton winner out of Loyola is currently playing basketball at Northwestern as a fifth-year senior and whether he will pursue the PLL or try and play pro basketball in North America or overseas has yet to be decided.
During the regular season, the Archers’ offense had the single lowest output of any team, averaging 10.5 points per game and shooting a league lowest 25.0%. Even with the Archers’ big three of Tom Schreiber, Will Manny, and Marcus Holman, the Archers offensive production seemed to drop throughout the season as defenses started to figure out how to stop their ball movement, make them go one-on-one with defenders, especially short-sticks up top and on the wings.
If Spencer doesn’t come, Archers need an initiator from X who can fit into this offense, keep the ball humming, and break down defenders. While Christian Cuccinello stepped in as an initiator later in the year and did a lot for the Archers offense, they still need someone that can get the job done consistently.
In terms of drafting a player with that skill set, Penn State’s Grant Ament or Princeton’s Michael Sowers would both be perfect. Either of those players would be perfect pairs with Cuccinello behind the cage and draw enough attention from the defense that would allow Manny and Holman to cut and pop on the far side to get open for a set shot or dive into the middle, getting a quality look right down the throat of the defense.
While Ament and Sowers are likely the top two attack prospects in this draft, Penn State’s Mac O’Keefe, Cornell’s Jeff Teat, and Virginia’s Michael Kraus would also fit into this offense as players that can set up on the wing and being an initiator. Either of those guys could also be used as off-ball guys on the wing, cutting and moving to get set open looks, especially when the defense is drawn into the play at X, up top, or on the opposite wing.
Archers’ greatest need is at the attack spot but they also could use help adding depth to the midfield. Outside of Tom Schreiber and Ben McIntosh, Archers were never able to get quality production out of their midfield. Outside of pushing some of their attackmen up to the midfield on certain sets, they couldn’t rely on the midfield to produce and aid the attack very often, except for Schreiber.
Virginia’s Dox Aitken would great for this system as he can produce from the midfield, causing the defense trouble with his shooting and feeding ability. He can also initiate and get the offense going from up top, something that Archers didn’t do much of last season. North Carolina’s William Perry, Notre Dame’s Bryan Costabile, Villanova’s Connor Kirst could also bring that skill set to Archers at the midfield position, as well as multiple other college midfield prospects.
Lastly, who isn’t to say that Archers head coach Chris Bates will go for Yale faceoff man TD Ierlan? Ierlan has been one the most dominate faceoff men of all-time in college, and while there is a learning curve at the position from college to pro, Ierlan can single-handedly change a game. Plus, adding that many possessions would give their offense more chances to continue to gel and work into something as productive as any other unit in the league.