Post players, especially the good ones, are a lot fewer in number than the guards in the Horizon League. Because of that, fans tend to remember post players a lot more; they’re larger than life, and fans get behind their big behemoths.
I decided to take a bit of time and try and rank my best post players in the Horizon League. I did leave out a couple guys that deserve to be on the list (Aaron Pogue, for one) but I think I at least have a decent top five:
5. Anthony Hill – You know I wasn’t going to get this list going without giving a heads up to the Panthers, and Anthony Hill is by far the best in the post we’ve got. He’s got the biggest problem with sharing the ball among the post players here; not because he doesn’t share it, but because unless Kaylon Williams is on the floor, all five players are scorers; Hill won’t be the guy to score twenty a night, although he can. Matt Howard cannot take Hill, flat out. Hill scored 18 and 21 points in the two regular season match-ups, and 15 points in only 20 minutes of the conference semifinals. Hill seems to save his biggest games for the biggest opponents. He does have a tendency to shoot the three if given the wide-open opportunity, even though his ability is marginal outside the arc. He belongs down in the block, where he has more post moves than anybody and can use them. On a worse team, he’d be putting up 18 a night, but with the balance he hovers around ten.
4. Andy Polka – The Loyola post from Oshkosh is definitely the best rebounder in the conference. He has a nose for the ball and the strength to push even the biggest opponents around under the glass. The problem with Polka, of course, is that he should have graduated by now, but redshirted last year because of injuries. He might have been higher had he been healthy, but Polka has been injury-prone for much of his career. The lack of talent around him will be a problem for him this season; none of the other players on the list will be asked by their coaches to carry the load as much as Polka will be asked by Whitesell.
3. Cory Johnson – If this were a discussion of the best forwards inside and out, Cory Johnson may be #1 on the list. However, this is all about who can dominate the low block, and Johnson’s jack of all trades status means he’s the jack in the post, not the ace. That’s probably unfair, because Johnson is a pure scorer more than any of the players on this list, and he can go off for 25 on any given night.
2. Matt Howard – Believe me, I labored long and hard trying to decide who was number one, and while Matt Howard doesn’t have a lot of downside, I’m still dropping him in the two spot. You’re more than welcome to disagree in the comments section. Howard is the smartest basketball player in the conference; disagree if you want, but he knows where the ball is at all times, has great reaction on defense, and knows how to work the officials better than anybody else. He can draw a foul from anyone, and it’s a good game; he shoots almost 80% from the line. On the downside, he can be dominated, as we’ve seen with Anthony Hill. But he’s consistently good, and that’s why he’s been all-conference three years in a row.
1. Eli Holman – He’s terribly inconsistent, with games of four points against Wright State and 21 against Valpo. When I explain Holman’s game to people who haven’t seen him, I use one word: anarchy. It’s powerful, it’s incredibly talented, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. If you gave him Matt Howard’s basketball IQ and Anthony Hill’s offensive post moves, he’d be the best player in the nation, I’m convinced of it. He, above all the others, has NBA size (6’10”, 255) and the game to match. He’s pure athleticism, the best post player that Detroit has had since who…Dave Debusschere? We’re going to be modest and say Ryvon Covile. Holman’s 2.5 blocks per game last season are enough to prove that he’s one of the best defensive post players the conference has seen in awhile, and his nine rebounds are proof that he owns the area around the basket. If coach Ray McCallum Sr. can get him going consistently, the Titans will be the best team to challenge Butler since Wright State got it done with VD and Wood in 2007.
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