Point Guard Now a Three-Man Job
Nov. 6, 2006
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - When Stephen F. Austin held commencement ceremonies this past spring, the Lumberjack basketball team lost the program's all-time assists leader, a 1,000-point scorer and one of the best free throw shooters in school history. Though they may sound like the work of three men, those milestone achievements belong to one player -- Marcus Clark. But, according to head coach Danny Kaspar, it's going to take three players this season to fill the shoes of the departed three-year starting point guard.
"We obviously are going to miss Marcus," Kaspar said. "In my opinion, Marcus was the best point guard in the league over the last three years. I don't know if you can replace Marcus, you just try to do the best job you can in his absence."
The players charged with that task for the 2006-07 season are Gerald Fonzie, Shelbie Lewis and Corwin Ragland. Fonzie, a 5-11 junior from Helena, Ark., is the only returning player of the three, but newcomers Lewis and Ragland have experience at the collegiate level. They'll need it, as both are expected to hit the ground running this season and play an important role in helping to shoulder the load at the point.
Fonzie proved his mettle last year, when he was thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a midseason injury to Clark. After playing the role of understudy for much of the first half of the season, Fonzie came off the bench to replace Clark during the Lumberjacks' game at McNeese State. He scored 14 points to help SFA hold off a late Cowboys charge in an 82-76 victory. A game later, against Louisiana-Lafayette, Fonzie got the starting nod while Clark recovered from the concussion he suffered against McNeese. This time, Fonzie performed even better, putting up 19 points and seven rebounds -- both career highs -- along with four assists, as SFA dropped a close 66-63 decision on the road against the Ragin' Cajuns in an ESPN BracketBusters game.
For the year, Fonzie averaged 3.9 points per game and hit 42 percent from the floor. He saw increased playing time as the season progressed, and wound up averaging 14.3 minutes per game. Fonzie finished the season with 39 assists and a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
While Fonzie is expected to get the bulk of the minutes at the point, he will share duties with a pair of players whose differing skill sets will give the Lumberjack lineup a few different looks as they rotate on and off the court.
"I think all three of these young men can play the point for us," Kaspar said. "Each has some strengths the others don't have. Shelbie and Corwin can penetrate to the basket. Gerald is probably the best outside shooter of the three."
At 6-1, 195 pounds, Ragland is the biggest of the three. The DeSoto, Texas, native transferred to SFA after playing two years at Yavapai College in Arizona. Ragland averaged 14.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in his freshman year at Yavapai, before an injury limited his action last season.
Lewis, a 5-11 sophomore, joins the Lumberjacks after burning just one year of eligibility at Jacksonville College. In his one season there, he averaged 7.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He shot 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line.
The Lumberjacks' three-headed point guard, along with the rest of the team, will be on display for the first time Tuesday night, when SFA hosts Houston Baptist in an exhibition contest. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. from the William R. Johnson Coliseum.
This article is the first in a series previewing the Lumberjacks, leading up to Saturday's season opener against San Diego. Coming Tuesday -- shooting guard.
-- SFA --