Despite quick end to their season, McKendree coach anticipates big things from Winkelman
The McKendree University men's basketball team saw its 2015-16 season come to an end on Feb. 28 following an 87-80 loss at Quincy University in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament.
It was the first game all season that Steeleville’s Darin Winkelman did not get into the starting lineup.
The junior forward was ready to play, but head coach Harry Statham went with 6-foot-8 senior David Newton in an attempt to offset Quincy’s superior size under the basket. It was Newton’s first start of the season.
The fact that Winkelman did not get the start is no reflection on his ability or his value to the team.
“It wasn’t his fault,” Statham told the Southwest Illinois News. “He did a tremendous job for us this year, but in the matchup ... their power was inside so we went with the bigger kid.”
Ideally, Winkelman is a small forward/swingman and is one of the team’s best perimeter shooters, but at 6-foot-6, he sometimes has trouble defending the bigger and stronger players inside.
“We were trying to shut down their interior game, so I didn’t get to use Darrin like I normally do," Statham said. "I know Darrin understands because he’s a quality guy. We’re counting on him for big things next year."
During the regular season, Winkelman started all 26 games for the Bearcats, averaging 9.3 points and 22.3 minutes played. According to Statham, he is a consistent three-point shooter and an excellent free throw shooter.
In the Nov. 7 season opener at Drake, Winkleman got his season off to a fast start, scoring a game-high 32 points, including six 3-point field goals and a team-leading nine rebounds.
Statham describes Winkelman as an intelligent guy with a great personality, and a million-dollar smile.
“He’s always positive, always up, and he comes to play every day," he said. "I really like him on the court."
The coach also describes Winkelman as a tireless worker in practice and during the offseason.
“From the first time we saw him last spring until the fall, he’s spent time in the weight room and picked up some solid muscle," Statham said. "He came in this season much more physical, and we expect him to get even stronger on interior defense next year."
Due to injuries to key big men, McKendree was an undersized team this past season and Winkelman was its biggest starter in many games.
“Darin played most of the time and started every game but he’s undersized in the post, so putting him against guys that are 6-foot-10 is a disadvantage for us,” Statham said. “We had to weigh his offensive strengths against the defensive responsibilities; and in games that were more post-oriented, we used the other guy a little more."
With key big men returning healthy next season, Statham expects Winkelman to be more of a true swingman playing closer to the perimeter.
“I think he’ll be playing more to his strengths next year than he did this year," Statham said.