One of the debates going on amongst fans this season seems to be over who should get the start for the Wildcats at the center position. While Juice, Moore, Coble, and Shurna appear locked in at their spots, the center spot has seen four players rotate. If you check the message boards at wildcatreport.com you will see much of the fan sentiment is for Ivan Peljusic to reemerge as the starter. Honestly, I think I agree with that point of view, but I will try to give an honest assessment of each players strengths and weaknesses below.
Rowley’s biggest strength is his tremendous size. At 7-0 280 lbs. he is the largest Wildcat since Dan Kreft and is far more athletic than many men of his size. He has shown some nice ability to pass the ball and smooth touch on free throws. In fact, his offensive skills are surprisingly well-rounded. He dribbles okay and reports from Brown had him displaying a nice hook shot. His biggest weakness is the fact that despite his size, Rowley hasn’t grabbed many rebounds. He only has six rebounds in three games.
Luka played a lot at Brown, but I didn’t see the game. The reports I heard indicated that he showed great passing skills and displayed a smooth stroke from the free throw line. The same reports also indicated that he appeared extremely soft inside. I think Luka has great potential as an offensive player, but it seems he’ll need to get a little tougher to fight inside in the Big Ten. Still, Luka might have the best overall upside of any NU center.
Curletti started the exhibition game against Robert Morris and played a lot in NU’s first two games. He then didn’t play at Brown. I think Davide might be the most physically ready of the freshmen when it comes to battling down low, however, he needs lot of work on his offensive skills. I think he should be able to contribute right now as a banger who comes off the bench to rebound and play defense, but he can’t be on the court with Williams and Nash who also offer very little offense.
The people’s champ at the center position, Ivan offers great athleticism and is one of NU’s most aggressive players. He’s an okay three point shooter, but his best skill is taking the ball to the hoop. Last year he was one of the few Wildcats who willing drove the lane and tried to score. He is also a fantastic passer. Also, Ivan has been known to dunk the ball which apparently Luka and Rowley did not do at Brown much to Carmody’s dismay. Finally, Ivan’s defense is okay, but he can be overpowered by bigger men. I do like the fact that he is long and can make entry passes tough, though.
Each of these guys has talent and all should probably play. I do think Peljusic is the most well-rounded, but I understand Carmody giving minutes to Rowley and Mirkovic. They are young with great upside and could be All-Big Ten performers in a couple years. Still, I think Peljusic could really help the ‘Cats right now. He’s proven he is Big Ten ready. Does he need to play 40 minutes? Of course not, but he ought to play more than six.