Posted On: 01/11/17 12:43 PM
McCutcheon was runner-up in 4A last season. They lost to a team that had one of the best players in the nation in a close game until the final minutes. All they did was bring back their core and start all over again looking like a team poised to make another deep run and try and get revenge.
They got a real test early this season as they went without 2018 guard Robert Phinisee for a stretch as he was dealing with a deep bone bruise. He was out for part of the Kokomo game and missed the next three games. However, McCutcheon didn’t miss a beat and started what is now a 7-game winning streak including a big win over Merrillville in the Marion Holiday Classic.
“I feel like we have been playing pretty well,” Phinisee said of his team. “Other than the Twin Lakes game, I think we came in a little over confident. We have been playing pretty well, everybody has been shooting it pretty well. We can still improve.”
The big change in this offense from last year is how big their perimeter shooting has become a part of their offense. And now that they are running more, McCutcheon has been putting up big numbers. They have scored over 70 points in a game this season in every game except two. They scored 108 against North Montgomery.
“I feel like when we hit shots it dictates our defense so when we hit shots it gives us energy and we feed off of that,” Phinisee said of how shooting is working well for them this season.
Being so close to a State Championship has McCutcheon and Phinisee hungry to get back and they have a gameplan for what it is going to take to do it.
“Rebounding,” Phinisee said of adjustments to make. “Pick it up on the defensive end. I feel like our offense is there still but just picking things up on the defensive end. I think we can. Just make up on the defensive end. That is where we are lacking off the most. I feel like the offense is all there. Once we get it all there we can make another state run.”
At the head of that movement back to the state championship run is Phinisee. He was really good last year as a 5’11 guard who can defend, shoot, and run an offense like no one else in the state. Now, he’s 6’1 and even better. The adjustments he’s made this offseason have really rounded out his game.
His jump shot is the one area that really needs to improve but that is being a bit nitpicky. He’s a career 33% three-point shooter already.
“Shooting,” Phinisee said of areas he is trying to improve. “I have shot it really well in open gym. I haven’t really shot it this much at the start of the season. I know once I get more shots up it is going to improve. I have gotten stronger since last year. Just getting stronger and becoming an overall leader.”
As far as recruiting, Phinisee has four offers and makeup the teams recruiting him the hardest right now. Butler, Indiana, Purdue, and Virginia are those that have offered. Although, a couple other Big Ten programs are taking a look now.
“I have four that have offered and Ohio State has come in (recently). They talked to me in open gym. Minnesota came twice to open gym so those two and a couple more have contacted coach as well.”
While he is still in his junior season, a decision will be coming up on the horizon sooner or later. That decision will come down to comfort for Robert he says.
“How comfortable I am,” Phinisee says of the aspect that he will look for in a college. “If I go away from how I have to be comfortable with the players and coaching staff. After that, I mean I’ll look deeper into the playing style and just how comfortable I am with everything overall.”