The old cliché "The cream rises to the top" that can be universally used to refer to the cream of the crop in any realm whether it's sports, academia or politics will present themselves and prove to be paramount to a team’s success in sports.
This year's UNCP men's basketball team can be more accurately compared to a double-decker sheet cake who's second layer is just as sweet and savory as the first. Now you man be asking yourself what a pastry has to do with basketball, but I make this comparison because of the depth that this year's team possess on their bench.
Not only is this team blessed with quality depth, their second unit, that is comprised of players that could start for many other programs, shows no signs of drop off in production when called upon and often provides a spark for the Braves when the starting five struggles early, late or simply need a breather.
They are a selfless group that doesn’t concern themselves with the number of minutes that they play and instead does their best to maximize and capitalize during the minutes they do get when they come in the game off the bench.
“I feel like we’ve got eight or nine guys that are ability wise starters and they’re a very unselfish group that really doesn’t care too much about whether they start or come off the bench and not necessarily about the quantity of minutes it’s the quality,” said Head Coach Miller.
Ordinarily, the stigma associated with players that come into the game off the bench is that they are less than and not good enough to start but the opposite is true for the Braves as some of the team’s most valuable contributors don’t start the game.
The second starting unit that is comprised of Micah Kinsey, Carson Mounce, Jayvian Hicks, Cam Hamilton and is led by a newcomer to the program in Spencer Levi as he has flourished as the team’s new sixth man. Levi leads all players off the bench in points scored and is fourth on the team in scoring with Hamilton not too far behind.
“You look at production per minute, we got a lot of guys like Spencer that are doing a lot with the minutes they do have, and we’re blessed to have that depth and unselfishness to with it,” said Miller.
With their consistently stellar play in relief of the regular starting five they allow the members of the first unit to not feel additional pressure or urgency to try to press or do too much because they know the team has viable and reliable options waiting in the wings to pick up where they left off or even given them a much needed shot in the arm.
“I definitely feel less pressure just knowing that this team is so deep you know you don’t have to do everything yourself or you know that you can count on your teammates to make plays. We all trust in each other’s abilities, we all know what each other can do on the floor so we never feel any pressure, we know each other can pick up each other’s slack whenever one’s down,” said senior James Murray-Boyles after the team’s 84-63 win over Georgia College.