BASKETBALL SPECIAL: Pancake Thomas looks to lead Tops

Matthew Stewart

Redshirt senior guard Pancake Thomas nailed a three in the waning seconds of the first overtime in WKU’s matchup against Kentucky Wesleyan College on Saturday, sending the game to a second overtime and asserting himself as a key player in the Hilltoppers’ rebuilt lineup. 

Head Coach Rick Stansbury sees Thomas’ experience on the team as a positive. Stansbury has stressed even though he is new to the team, Thomas’ veteran status needs to be taken advantage of in terms of him being a leader on the court.

“It’s hard for a new guy sometimes, but he needs to understand that he’s not just new, but he’s a veteran on this team,” Stansbury said. “So he can’t look at it as being new, he can’t make that adjustment. He’s gotta give me that senior leadership.”

Stansbury wasn’t too excited the game had to go to double overtime, but he was very happy with the way Thomas handled the situation in the first overtime to knock down the three that tied the game at 98.

It was a specific situation as the Toppers were down three points, and they needed a three-point shot to force double-overtime. Anything less and KWC would have walked out of Diddle Arena victorious.

“He didn’t just make the shot the other night, everybody remembers the shot but it’s how he made it,” Stansbury said. “A lot of guys would not have had the poise and the focus and concentration to have understood time and score.”

“A lot of guys would have just rebounded it and just scored it,” Stansbury continued “He had the presence about him to dribble it out behind that line and then be able to jump up and get it off.”

After the shot went through the hoop, Thomas was first met by fellow redshirt senior guard Junior Lomomba and freshman guard Tobias Howard on the court.

Both players embraced Thomas and celebrated with their teammate as he had hit the biggest shot of the Toppers’ very young season and saved the team from an embarrassing loss.

“No question when you do that everybody will gain some confidence from him with that but at the same time I need him doing it more and more,” Stansbury said.

Stansbury continues to rave about Thomas as the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native uses his work ethic, talent and his ability to make big plays to prove to his teammates he can be the go-to-guy at the end of close games.

“He is one of our hardest workers, and he is learning to be more vocal because he’s learning what to do,” Stansbury said. “Sometimes you can’t talk cause you don’t understand yet. And it’s all new for him. He’s never had to practice as hard as we have to practice. Love his attitude, he’s a great kid, and he will get better and better as the year goes on as he gets more comfortable.”