Versatility is the key when it comes to the 2014-15 version of the Longwood Lancers. Coach Gee has a luxury that he was not afforded his first year in that he can choose to go big or small in his lineup. It’s hard to peg all the players in the roster in traditional positions, especially when it comes to the small forward position. One guy really fits into that position for the blue and gray and that’s Shaq Johnson. As coach Gee said in an interview with Blue Ribbon Yearbook, “Most guys in our league Shaq’s size play the four spot, but he’s a genuine three”.
Shaq’s fate will likely be determined next Monday, but without getting too much into legal matters everything points to Johnson playing this season for Longwood. When Shaq steps on the hardwood for Longwood he will instantly be among the most athletic players to ever play in Willett. He came out of high school as a four star recruit before attending Auburn for a year and later Northwest Florida State College a year ago. As a freshman at Auburn Johnson played 18.6 minutes per game, posting averages of 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
We all know about the mixtapes and Shaq’s dunking ability, but what will he bring to Longwood beyond that on both sides of the court? Coming out of high school the 6’5 Johnson had the following scouting report from ESPN:
Johnson is a strong combo-forward that is one of the most explosive jumpers in the country and he excels in transition. He is fearless when attacking the basket and is able to finish through contact. He understands his strengths and does a nice job of playing within his capabilities. He rebounds his position well and he is slowly improving his range from the perimeter. He has the potential to be an outstanding defender when he puts his mind to it and, because of his leaping ability, is able to contests shots even when giving a cushion.
Where it will be interesting to see how Johnson has improved over the years will be his game away from the basket. Will he be more of a mid-range and perimeter threat for the Lancers this season and as he develops down the line?
On the defensive end, Shaq had some flashes of brilliance at Auburn and showed his rebounding ability with 9 rebound games against Murray State and LSU. While Longwood has plenty of guys in the paint this year, Shaq will be able to help when needed or step in on the boards if Coach Gee goes small. Also, his athleticism and jumping ability should help Longwood with both transition defense and in half court sets.
Once there is a clear path forward off the court there will be no stopping Shaq Johnson on the court.
ESPN polled Big South coaches on the upcoming season and it sounds like many of Coach Gee’s colleagues aren’t taking the Lancers too seriously going into the season.
Big South preseason coaches poll
Total votes next to teams; number of first-place votes in parentheses
1. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers — 190 (13)
2. High Point Panthers — 177 (4)
3. Radford Highlanders — 156 (1)
4. Winthrop Eagles — 138
5. Charleston Southern Buccaneers — 127
6. UNC Asheville Bulldogs — 107
7. Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs — 90
8. Campbell Fighting Camels — 70
9. Presbyterian Blue Hose — 53
10. Liberty Flames — 47
11. Longwood Lancers — 33
Men’s Soccer (3-8-1, 2-3): After a very rough month and half span with no wins, the Lancers soccer team has woken up! First came a big 4-2 win over Campbell on Wednesday then was a big 4-1 road win at Presbyterian. Anthony Ugorji accounted for four of the Lancers eight goals this week including a hat trick at PC. Longwood currently stands 5th in the Big South with the top eight teams moving on to the conference tournament. A mid-week showdown with rival Liberty awaits the Lancers before a couple of non-conference contests.
Last Week: W 4-2 vs Campbell, W 4-1 at Presbyterian
This Week: 10/22 vs Liberty, 10/25 at Lipscomb
Women’s Soccer (7-6-3, 2-3-2): Longwood needs wins to get into the Big South Tournament and they helped themselves a bit this week with one of those. First the Lancers tied Presbyterian 3-3 in Farmville and later beat Charleston Southern 2-0 at home as well. Three regular season games remain for Todd Dyer’s squad and they are crucial as Longwood just stands in 7th place for the Big South Tournament that takes just the top eight teams. Longwood will take on Campbell and UNC Asheville this week, two squads that currently rank in front of the Lancers on the Big South table.
Last Week: T 3-3 vs Presbyterian, W 2-0 vs Charleston Southern
This Week: 10/22 at Campbell, 10/25 vs UNC Asheville
Field Hockey (6-10, 2-3): It was a winning week for the Lancers with a non-conference victory over Davidson and a big MAC win over Ball State. Longwood did fall 5-0 to Penn on Sunday but the Lancers seem to be playing good field hockey as the season draws to a close. Longwood’s season comes down to next Sunday though at Kent State. The Lancers are 2-3 in the MAC and currently tied for 4th in the standings. Keep in mind only the top four teams move on to the conference tournament. Longwood will need to take care of business against the Golden Flash or their season will likely be over in a flash.
Last Week: W 3-0 vs Davidson, W 1-0 vs Ball State, L 5-0 at Penn
This Week: 10/26 at Kent State
Longwood has a prime Class of 2016 target from the Millwood School in Richmond in power forward JJ Matthews, but today it was Matthews teammate CJ Williams who visited Farmville on an unofficial visit.
— Vantage Hoops (@VantageHoops) October 11, 2014
Williams, a 6’4 shooting guard, currently holds an offer from Howard University.