- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It’s an understandable topic, really. Charles Hinkle, he of the 18.4 points per game, has graduated from American.

Guard Troy Brewer, a reliable scorer for two years after transferring from Georgia, has also departed.

So where, exactly, will scoring come from for the Eagles next season?

“It’s the question,” senior guard Daniel Munoz said knowingly.

Munoz might not provide a full solution. Somehow, though, he’ll help figure out the path American takes as it chases a fifth 20-win season in six years.

Much will be needed from the 6-foot-1 Munoz, who led the Patriot League in assists per game last season (4.2) and is the Eagles’ top returning scorer (8.0 points per game). Stability, for starters, as the team figures itself out on offense.

Then again, it’s not much different than what American hoped for from the multiyear starter from the moment he stepped on campus.

“I don’t know if it’s so much a changing role as it is an evolving role,” coach Jeff Jones said. “His role has been the same. It’s just what he’s done with that role has evolved.”

This is the same guy who was plugged into the starting lineup for much of his freshman year, to admittedly mixed results. As a sophomore, he came off the bench behind Steve Luptak, a veteran who didn’t provide a big scoring punch but ran the team with few turnovers.

Both of those experiences helped last season. Jones saw Munoz shed his penchant of turning one mistake into two or three, a significant step for a player who found himself on the bench after a string of miscues his first couple of years.

“Last year was a year I had to be better,” Munoz said. “It was that simple. I had to be better, and I think I was.”

A linear career progression, it was not. But it has set up a potentially fascinating final season with the Eagles.

“My coaches really believed in me last year and kept on me to be aggressive and attack,” Munoz said. “A lot of the coaches always said, ‘We go as you go.’ That gave me confidence I can try new things. I think it was great I had Troy and Charles there last year, sort of like a crutch almost. Now, without them, I have to assume that role. It was definitely good last year that I got that in my system for this year coming up.”

There will be options around Munoz. Fellow senior guard Blake Jolivette averaged 7.2 points last season. Junior center Tony Wroblicky blossomed into a steadier player in the final half of the season. Forward Kyle Kager, seldom-used as a freshman, could be an instant answer to American’s scoring concerns.

Someone will have to organize things, both on and off the floor. As the point guard and with more career starts (51) than the Eagles’ other juniors and seniors combined (49), Munoz is the most logical candidate.

“Last year, he probably deferred to Simon McCormack and Joe Hill, and so did Troy and Charles,” Jones said. “Those guys were the leaders of last year’s team. This year, if it’s not Danny, then the only other guy that has that leadership quality is John Schoof and John’s a sophomore. I think it is incumbent on Danny to step up and not only play well but be a great leader.”

Munoz is aware of both parts of that equation. The solid 3-point shooter wants to be more consistent come the fall, and he’s working to develop his shot so he can create some scoring opportunities even when it seems none is there.

An uptick in offense from Munoz will help solve American’s overarching offseason concern. But should Munoz effectively put to use the lessons of three starkly different seasons, it could provide even more answers for the Eagles.

“These last three years, I’ve pretty much seen it all, I would say,” Munoz said. “I feel like I can handle any situation that comes at me. I’m prepared for my senior year.”

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