Prior to Friday, I’d heard of Montrose’s Keith Boswell and Lake Fenton’s Sean Canning before, but only through impressive statlines that the two seniors routinely put up. I had no idea what exactly either guy did to compile those numbers, however.
Now, the Montrose-Lake Fenton game was not a good one. Lake Fenton struggled to shoot the ball, had a couple key players in foul trouble and had no answer for Montrose inside. Montrose cruised, leading by double-digits most of the second half. But neither team’s top player disappointed.
It’s weird to start with a player from the team on the losing end of a blowout, but Canning was clearly the best player on the court. He scored 31 points and did so rather effortlessly. In fact, when I asked Lake Fenton coach Matt Furey about Canning after the game, he was actually shocked Canning had scored that many.
Canning is not flashy whatsoever. He has great length, long arms and can handle the ball a little bit. His jumper, which he slingshots behind his head before releasing, almost like a slower, right-handed version of Sam Perkins’ jumper, doesn’t ever look like it has a prayer of going in. Until it does. With remarkable accuracy.
After two years of averaging well into double figures in the GAC, however, opponents picked up on the fact that he can shoot. And the downside to the slow release is it takes Canning quite a while to load it up, so the defense can often close out. But that’s where his counter moves and, in particular, his long arms come into play. Canning is very good at putting the ball on the floor, getting within eight feet or so of the basket and getting off a floater with a really high release point, which he used for many of his points against Montrose. His team had a terrible shooting night, but Canning’s 31 points came on only 18 shots.
As for Boswell, he’s the prototypical good GAC big man (at 6-foot-4, that’s about as big as “big men” get in the GAC). The first thing that stands out about him offensively is his strength. He was very good at setting up exactly where he wanted the ball, establishing position and using good footwork to make a move or two and get to the basket.
But as the game went on, Lake Fenton began forcing him to set up further and further away from the basket. Most traditional post players would get uncomfortable further out on the wings, but Boswell simply turned and faced up. He showed he could handle the ball pretty well for a big man, he had a couple of nice passes to cutting teammates and he even showed a reliable 15-to-18 foot jumper.
Boswell is averaging about 15 points per game this season, he’s tough, he rebounds well in traffic and Montrose runs a lot of its offense through him at times because he sees the entire court very well from the post.
Underclassman to watch: Jimmie Hodges, Montrose
Calling Hodges the most unorthodox player on the court wouldn’t be a stretch. He’s a freshman, he’s only about 6-foot-1 and he’s a little on the heavy side right now. But he was easily the most impressive player on either team other than the two mentioned above. Hodges played both in the post and in the perimeter. When he set up down low, his style reminded me a lot of Powers’ Quinn Langston. For those who have seen Langston, he’s as fundamentally sound a post player as there is in this area. He catches and keeps the ball high, he moves his feet well and he doesn’t dance around in the post, he makes decisive moves to either get a shot up quickly or get the ball back out to the wing so he can re-post and he’s really crafty finishing against bigger players.
Hodges exhibited all of these skills down low, especially when it came to using his big body to create separation against taller players and prevent them from blocking his shot.
Then, he stepped out on the perimeter and showed he can face up too. He was a great ball-handler, crossing over Lake Fenton’s guards twice and finding teammates as he got in the lane. He was a really fun and unique player to watch and someone who should grow into a pretty good player at Montrose if he keeps working on his game.
— By Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops