By Greg Kuras
The Furman men’s basketball team, now 5-13, has had their fair share of struggles this season, none of which has been more debilitating than injuries to key players throughout the course of the season.
Sophomore guard Jordan Loyd, who showed a great deal of promise as a freshman and was set to take over the top point guard spot this season, has been limited to only a single game and is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Sophomore winger Dominic Early, who displayed a promising skillset for the Paladins in his freshman campaign, has also been hindered by a knee injury but could make a return to the court in the next few games.
Nagging injuries to other players have also kept out a number of important players for the Paladins. In the wake of all these devastating injuries, however, freshmen have stepped up.
These players will be contributing to the success of the Furman basketball program for the next couple of years as they continue to grow and develop.
Among the rising stars is Stephen Croone from Covington, GA. Due to injuries to Jordan Loyd and David Brown this season, as well as the loss of Richard Brown, Croone has been thrust into point guard duties.
Despite his short time at Furman in the basketball program, Croone has thrived under the pressure of being a floor general. Through his play this season, he has gained the trust of coach Jeff Jackson and continues to start. Since taking the reigns, he has been second on the team in scoring and leads the team in assists, including a performance against SWU, tying a school record dishing out 14 dimes.
Helping out Croone is Kendrec Ferrara, a 6’9” forward from Cape Coral, FL. Ferrara has also seen a great deal of court time as a freshman and has had a number of starts for the Paladins. His shooting ability and range are exceptional for a big man and allows the Paladins to spread the floor and create a more dynamic offense.
But the list does not end with those two. Larry Wideman, a 6’4” winger from Loris, SC has seen a few starts of late and continues to play a key role for the Paladins. Wideman is an extremely athletic slasher, able to get to the basket while also establishing himself as a threat behind the arc, making 36.4 percent of his attempts.
There is also Kevin Chisseau, a 6’8” forward from Cameroon that has not seen as much playing time as the other three freshman but still plays the pivotal role for the Paladins of bringing energy off the bench. He boasts superior athletic ability and has the potential to be an absolute beast in the paint as he continues to develop.
This young group of players have been challenged with arguably one of the heaviest workloads for a freshman class in Furman basketball history and they are handling it very well.
While there may be a few growing pains here and there, the experience and opportunity these freshman are getting early in their collegiate careers is invaluable. There is no doubt that it will pay off down the road and through the rest of their Furman basketball careers.
The Paladins face Georgia Southern at home on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. The following week on Feb. 2, the men’s basketball team competes against The Citadel.