Apr 9, 2012
2011-12 Final grades: Mitch Bruneel
36 games, 9 starts
49.1% - FG
40% - 3pt
60.7% - FT
With USU coming off a historic season and stuck with the loss of six graduating seniors, bringing in a player fresh off a JUCO national championship looked like an ideal way to keep some winning momentum going. Bruneel was one of the key players during Southern Idaho's championship season was being looked at to provide some scoring punch, toughness and defense on the wings.
As was the case though with the majority of Utah State's team this season, Bruneel's play could only be described as inconsistent. Some games he looked like an all-around force, others he pulled the disappearing act.
Positives: Early on in the season, when this team was really struggling to find itself, Bruneel was one of the more consistent guys on the team. Through the first 10 games of the season he averaged 5.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game on 53 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from deep. He also punished the living hell out of San Jose State, hitting 8-of-10 3-pointers and scoring 27 total points over two games against the Spartans. Ever once in a while in a tense situation he'd seem to fly out of nowhere for a tip-in basket too, and really, was pretty good about finishing around the rim all season.
Negatives: Outside of the 27 points he scored against SJSU, Bruneel only totaled 27 points all other WAC games combined. His shooting percentages weren't bad by any stretch and he kept his turnovers low, but he also wasn't able to do much in creating for either himself or teammates. A slow first step made it a cake-walk for defenders to keep in front of him, so when his solid outside shooting dropped off at the end of the year (1-11 from 3-point range over the final seven games), he wasn't much of a threat to opposing teams.
Summary: Bruneel started the season on a decent note, and early on, my take on him was that once he settled in and got comfortable that he would be a star. That never came to be though, and sadly, he seemed to regress over the course of the year, which wasn't the kind of production one would have hoped for out of a transfer from a JUCO championship team. He was only a sophomore, but unless he were to work like crazy on being more of a threat to get past a defender once in a while, it's tough to see much improvement in the future.
As a fourth guy in the wing rotation, I don't think anybody would be upset about having Bruneel in that role. He still can provide a solid spark off the bench, and having a guy who can get scorching hot from outside like he showed a couple times this season is never a bad thing. Fittingly, it looks like being that fourth guy is in his future. For this year though, he was the No. 3 wing man, and will be graded as such, all with some of the expectations surrounding him factoring into this grade.
Final grade: C