Barry University juniors Adrian Gonzalez and Arie Williams have been so good off the bench the past two years that it’s hurting their chances to be starters.
Gonzalez, a 6-5 small forward from Hialeah Gardens, averaged 8.0 points last season, leading the team with a 60.6 percent in field goals, attacking the rim with ferocity.
Williams, a 5-9 guard from Elgin, Illinois, also averaged 8 points, leading the team in three-point percentage (42.1 percent). All but eight of his field goals were from beyond the arc.
Yet, Butch Estes, who coached the Bucs to a school-record 25-6 record last season, reaching the NCAA Division II South Region semifinals and tying the furthest advance in program history, said he may just keep Gonzalez and Williams in their reserve roles.
“I’ve never had two players like Adrian and Arie who come in off the bench and immediately light up the scoreboard,” said Estes, who is about to start his 33rd year as a coach, including his third at Barry. “Both of those kids have been consistently dynamic.”
The Bucs graduated three starters from last season —point guard Deric Hill, shooting guard Juan Ferrales and forward Savad Garner. They combined to average 29.9 points, and Hill led the team in steals in assists.
Returning starters are 6-6 senior power forward Yunio Barrueta, a preseason Division II Second-Team All-American who averaged 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds; and 6-1 senior shooting guard Anders Haas, a deadly perimeter shooter who averaged 9.7 points.
The new point guard is 6-0 sophomore Elvar Fridriksson, a native of Iceland and a transfer from LIU-Brooklyn.
“Elvar seems to have a sixth sense of what needs to happen next on the court,” Estes said. “He’s an outstanding passer and very unselfish.”
Look for 6-9, 260-pound senior Tray Leonard to potentially start in the post. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds last season in just 11.6 minutes per game.
He has since lost 30 pounds and is in much better shape to last longer in games.
The fifth starter could be Gonzalez or Williams, but if Estes opts to keep them as firepower off the bench, 6-2 junior wing Undra Mitchem could win a job. A transfer from Jacksonville State, Mitchem plays tenacious defense.
But no matter what Estes decides to do with his starting lineup, he is confident he has complete buy-in from his players.
“Every player in America works to become a starter,” Estes said. “But I think Adrian and Arie are unselfish, and our whole team is that way. That’s a huge part of our success.”
MEN’S BASKETBALL PREVIEW CAPSULES
Barry (NCAA Division II)
Coach: Butch Estes; Last season: 25-6; Top players: 6-5 sr. PF Yunio Barrueta (18.7 pts, 9.7 rbs.); 6-2 sr. CG Anders Haas (9.7 pts., 3.0 ast.); 6-6 jr. SF Adrian Gonzalez (8.0 pts); Noteworthy: Reached the NCAA South Region semifinals, tying the furthest advance in program history.
Broward College (junior college)
Coach: Bob Starkman; Last season: 22-8; Top players: 6-3 so. SG DeAndre Turner (21.0 points); 6-7 so. PF Joe Lopez (formerly of South Miami High, transfer from Winthrop); 6-5 fr. SF Adam Traore (from Harlem, N.Y.); Noteworthy: Team was ranked in the top 20 nationally for most of last season but got hit by key injuries late. Turner led Florida junior colleges in scoring.
Florida Memorial (NAIA)
Coach: Artis Maddox; Last season: 3-25; Top players: 6-2 sr. F Samuel Dorismond; 5-8 jr. PG Andre Braziel; 6-6 sr. F Davonte Byrd; Noteworthy: Maddox is in his first season as the FMU coach.
Johnson & Wales (NAIA)
Coach: David Graham; Last season: 18-12; Top players: 6-4 jr. F Ricardo Suarez (second-team all-conference); 6-8 sr. C Ralph Nin (ex-Columbus standout); 5-11 jr. pg T.J. Johnson (Broward College transfer); Noteworthy: The Wildcats return 11 players from a team that beat five Top 25 NAIA teams last season.
Miami Dade College (junior college)
Coach: Stephen Cowherd; Last season: 21-11; Top players: 6-3 so. G Marvin Jean-Pierre; 6-6 so. SF Joe Mvuezolo; 6-10 so. C Dalen Traore; Noteworthy: Jean-Pierre and Mvuezolo were first-team all conference. Traore is also a returning starter from a team that reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2005.
Nova Southeastern (NCAA Division II)
Coach: Gary Tuell; Last season: 12-16; Top players: 6-5 sr. SG Chris Page (19.5 pts;); 6-8 jr. C Harrison Goodrick (led team with 5.3 rbs.); 6-7 jr. W Casey Carroll (starter in 2013-2014 but injured last season); Noteworthy: Page led the team in scoring and was named first-team all conference.
St. Thomas (NAIA)
Coach: Patrick Gayle; Last season: 17-13; Top players: 6-4 jr. SG Michael Walker (led team in scoring, 13.5); 5-7 so. PG Mikon Hewitt (4.6 ast.); 6-3 j r. G Armand Shoon (transferred from Florida Gulf Coast); Noteworthy: Bobcats lost three double-figure scorers from a team that made it to the NAIA’s round of 32.