Junior tandem shines in backcourt

Junior tandem shines in backcourt

Corey Santee has a bold message for the other 13 basketball teams in Conference USA.

At 10-13 and 6-6 in C-USA, the Horned Frogs may currently be sitting in eighth place, but Santee says there isn’t a team in the conference with a better backcourt than the one he and Marcus Shropshire form.

“I’m just gonna put it out there and say there isn’t a better duo in this conference,” Santee said. “There’s a lot of good backcourts, but as far as playing together and playing under control, I don’t think there’s a better 1-2 punch out there.”

And the statistics back Santee up.

Together he and Shropshire combine for 27.7 points and 7.4 assists a game, a stat line that is more productive than the backcourts of Memphis, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Alabama-Birmingham, DePaul and Louisville.

In fact, there isn’t one team in C-USA that gets more scoring production from their backcourt than the Frogs, and only Memphis accounts for more assists a game with 8.5 compared to TCU’s 7.4.

Head coach Neil Dougherty said it makes him excited to hear his players have so much confidence in their abilities and that he has enjoyed coaching the talented backcourt.

“Well, I like them, of course,” Dougherty said. “I think that they definitely complement each other very well. It goes a long way in them believing that they really are the best tandem. That means a lot more to their development than what (the media) tell them.”

Dougherty said the two junior guards represent what every coach wants from his point guard and shooting guard.

“These two fit what everyone wants to see on every team,” he said. “We have a ball handler and a deadly outside shooter that every team wants. They can also take care of the ball and defend the ball.”

Shropshire said he has become a better player since playing with a pure point guard like Santee, who has the ability to get him the ball at the right time.

“He improves my game a lot,” Shropshire said. “He obviously looks for me a lot and he gets me good looks because he such a great passer. With him at the point, I have become a better shooter.”

Santee agrees that his game has also improved as a result of playing along side Shropshire.

“Shrop brings a lot of energy to my game and we work well together,” he said. “He’s so fast off the screens that defenses have to pay attention to him and not focus on me. That lets me pick my spots on the court and allows me to do what I can do. And when it’s time for a bucket, I know who to get the ball to every time.”

The Frogs and their junior backcourt have a tough task with Charlotte (17-6, 9-3 C-USA) coming in to town 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

Santee said he knows what to expect from one of the conference’s elite teams.

“I expect them to come in here and be cocky,” he said. “They’re going to feel like they can beat us on our home court. We got to be ready and bring our ‘A’ game. We’re gonna bring it.”