Saturday, June 09, 2007

Player Profiles: #14 Max Paulhus Gosselin

Max Paulhus Gosselin was the first member of the class of 2009 that I met personally. I was immediately struck by his French Canadian accent and his really friendly nature. He seemed like the kind of guy who could just make himself have fun at anything without any other stimulus.

I first saw Max the basketball player later that summer at camp. He was taking part in pick-up games with a collection of older campers and new teammates. Something struck me as just a little bit different...maybe it was all of the steals and transition buckets, maybe it was the yelling after a tomahawk jam, or maybe it was the fact that Max made a spectacular block on a certain unnamed 6'8" forward. This guy didn't look like a Davidson basketball player. At least he didn't look like any Davidson basketball player that I had seen up to that point.

The term "raw talent" is often thrown around in reference to freshmen that Bob McKillop brings into the Davidson program. It is a well-documented reality that most freshmen evolve and improve greatly over their four years at Davidson. However, I think that the term most aptly applied to Max that year. He was both very "raw" and very "talented."

When he entered full-fledged practices with his teammates and coaches in mid-October, Gosselin soon realized that his style of play was in direct conflict with the system that McKillop has run for years. Davidson did not run a full-court press. The offense lived off of spacing, passing and accurate shooting. Gosselin's shot...well, let's just say it can be a little flat at times.

Despite his incredible energy, length and leaping ability, Gosselin did not play much as he backed up SoCon Tournament MVP Brendan Winters. Although Gosselin was initially pegged as the freshman who would most often practice with the first team, he was ultimately passed over by his classmate, Andrew Lovedale.

Despite the hardship of having to mostly sit and watch as his teammates led Davidson to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, Gosselin played every second with an eye to the future. He knew he would have big shoes to fill in Winters' absence and there was also some indication that the Wildcats might be tweaking their style of play with this next incoming class.

Gosselin started throughout the 2006-2007 season, and, despite not scoring much, his defensive contributions were felt from Day 1 all the way to the SoCon tournament championship game. Gosselin had a breakout game against UT-Chattanooga when he scored 16 points in the first half to finish with 22 points on 9-15 shooting.

The 6-6 forward operated well out of a new game philosophy that set up with a 3/4 court press, encouraged transition basketball (whether off of steals or rebounds) and allowed for Gosselin to be a defensive specialist while he was still gaining confidence on his jump shot. Although McKillop didn't give Max the license to shoot certain shots throughout the year, Gosselin was invaluable when it came to defense and offensive speed.

Against College of Charleston in the SoCon tournament championship game, Gosselin was instrumental in shutting down the high-flying Dontaye Draper, holding him to only one field goal after he had scored 38 the night before.

Gosselin will continue to be a crucial asset to Davidson's game plan when he returns for his junior season next year. His speed and intensity have formed the cornerstone of a new style of Davidson basketball that pushes the pace, attacks their opponents and lives above the rim.

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