Saturday, February 23, 2019

Senior Day: Wormley makes the best of the situation

This season has been a storybook one for three-quarters of the Flying Dutchmen’s senior class. Graduate transfers Jacquil Taylor and Dan Dwyer struck blue-and-gold in their one-and-done opportunities by seamlessly replacing Rokas Gustys and helping Hofstra to a generational campaign. And speaking of generational, Justin Wright-Foreman has been busy doing Justin Wright-Foreman things.

The tale’s been a different and potentially awkward one for Kenny Wormley, though.

Wormley, who played his freshman year at Siena before playing at Indian Hills Community College as a sophomore, joined the Dutchmen prior to last season and started 13 of the first 16 games at point guard before Desure Buie, who suffered a torn ACL in December 2016, regained his starting role. Even with Buie back in the lineup, Wormley retained a spot in the rotation as part of Joe Mihalich’s top reserves along with Jalen Ray and Hunter Sabety.

It looked as if Wormley would perform a similar role this season, when he played 26 minutes off the bench in the first four games. But he didn’t play against Cal-State Fullerton on Thanksgiving Eve, and it wasn’t a one-time thing for Wormley, who has appeared in just three games since then — the routs of Rosemont, Delaware and Drexel, all of which the Dutchmen won by at least 40 points.

“I thought he’d have a role, I thought he’d play some,” Mihalich said. “It became a number crunch. Desure’s the best point guard. Justin’s the second-best point guard. Justin’s our best shooting guard. Jalen’s our next-best shooting guard. Elijah’s (Pemberton) our best three man. When we take him off the floor, we can play Justin at the three. He just got squeezed in every way, shape or form.”

No multi-season scholarship player has appeared in fewer games for Hofstra as a senior since Mike Davis-Saab played in 15 games in 2008-09. Such an arrangement could create tension, especially on a team otherwise filled with seniors enjoying a memorable final season. But Mihalich and Wormley said it has been a stress-free transition.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much respect I have for Kenny,” Mihalich said. “Because let’s face it, last year, he started at least half the year, was a key player And now he’s basically the scout team.”

There’s no basically about it: Wormley’s task is to test Buie in practice and do his best to emulate what the Dutchmen will see in their next game.

“Helping (Buie) out with pointers on the game,” Wormley said. “I’m still on the team, so I’m going to help any way I can.”

“He’s been terrific,” Mihalich said. “You know the old phrase: Good teams have good players. Great teams have great teammates. He’s a great teammate. He loves basketball. That’s why he’s still here. He could have quit. He loves basketball, that’s why he’s still here. He loves his teammates. That’s why he’s still here. I mean it. I have so much respect for him for that.”

Despite the unexpected turns of his senior season, Wormley said he’ll exit college associating himself more with Hofstra than any other stop, and content with the role he’s had in carving out a memorable season for the program.

“I’m fine that we’re winning,” Wormley said. “Of course, I’d like to play more. But I’m not going to say anything bad. I’m happy that we’re winning.”

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