Colonels finding more balance in non-conference schedule

Last year, if Nicholls State standout forward Anatoly Bose didn’t do it, it sometimes didn’t get done.

This year, Bose is still at it, but he has a little help from his friends.

The result is the best start in the past 16 years for the Colonels basketball team.

Balance is the word of the month for coach J.P. Piper, who has seen the Colonels march to a 6-4 start to the season, including a win at LSU.

“It’s what we want. We want balance,” Piper said. “It’s nice for [Bose] to get 30, but I’d rather have five guys get 10-15 than one with 30.”

One of the main culprits behind the Colonels’ offensive improvement in the improved play of senior point guard Kenny Franklin, Jr.

Franklin doesn’t do much scoring on his own, averaging just 6 points per game. But the point guard manages the offense and gets all of the team’s weapons the basketball in positions where they’re able to succeed.

The Shreveport native averages five assists per game, including an eight-assist and one-turnover output in Nicholls’ recent win against Dillard.

“I like to pass the ball more than I like to score it,” Franklin said. “I’ll give up a layup to let my teammate score. That’s just what I look for. The first thing I study every game on the stat sheet is my assists and my turnovers.”

That unselfishness and toughness is something Piper said the team lacked last year without the team’s longtime point guard Justin Payne.

“He loves to share the ball,” Piper said following the Dillard game. “He’s more concerned with his assists. He wanted 10 assists more than he wanted 15 points. That’s a wonderful point guard. Play defense and distribute the ball and then if you don’t guard him, he can make shots. … You have guys who want the ball in their hands because they want to make a play. He wants the ball in his hands so [Bose] can make a play.”

And if teams sag off him and dare him to shoot, he’s more than capable of putting the orange leather ball into the 10-foot high cylinder, too.

Just ask Dillard, because he scored 15 points in that game to go with his assists.

“Kind of the icing on that cake is if you really commit to taking Bose and Hunter away, Kenny can hurt you in his own right,” Piper said.

The second step in the puzzle has been junior forward Fred Hunter, who has stepped up and become a more consistent scorer so far this season.

Hunter has been a good statistical player since his freshman season for the Colonels, but his stats were a compilation of some good and some bad nights.

This year, Hunter has played on a more even keel to provide more steady output for the Nicholls offense.

Hunter’s patience was tested against Dillard as he missed all five of his free throw attempts and a couple of first half layups. But unlike in the past two years, he rebounded emotionally and ended up with 19 points.

“I almost lost it at the beginning when I missed those five free throws,” Hunter said with a laugh. “But I talked to the coach and some of our players and they told me to just let it go, so I put it in the back of my mind and looked forward and kept playing.”

When he’s doing that, Bose said there’s one word to describe the team’s power forward: monster.

“He’s been unbelievable,” Bose said. “The last couple of practices he’s been looking like an All-American and he’s just lifting everyone’s game, him by himself. … I can’t see anyone stopping him.”

Even with balance in mind, Bose is still the team’s go-to-guy and it’s easy to see why.

In the Colonels’ 94-52 win against Dillard, the Australian sensation scored 24 first half points and sunk a career-high seven 3-pointers en route to a 30-point, six rebound and three assist effort.

During one stretch, Bose made three-straight 3-pointers to boost the team’s offense.

“I was just feeling it, man,” Bose said.

Bose’s coach had another way to describe it.

“When he gets in a rhythm, it’s almost not fair,” Piper said.

For the season, Bose averages 25 points per game, up from the 21 point average he had a season ago.

So with Bose and the bunch doing their thing, the Colonels are one of the favorites in the Southland Conference with league play set to begin in a few weeks.

And if it all keeps up, the Colonels just might be dancing in March for the first time in Piper’s tenure.