Just two weeks ago in New York's Madison Square Garden, Steve Schreiner went scoreless against South Carolina. He never even left the bench in the second half during the 3-point loss. And he wasn't even injured or sick. He just wasn't needed.
That was last year.Since the start of the new year, Schreiner has been a new man. He played well last week in two games against San Diego and Hawaii with 26 points and 22 rebounds and again Thursday against UTEP (24 points, 12 rebounds).
But his 30-point, 18-rebound performance Saturday night, which lifted the Cougars to a win over New Mexico, was his best yet.
If Schreiner isn't WAC Player of the Week, they ought to stop giving the award. He could be national player of the week, if they gave such a prize.
"Steve Schreiner was just fantastic tonight," said Coach Roger Reid. "He was a man out there."
"Steve Schreiner played a very fine basketball game," said New Mexico Coach Dave Bliss. "Shawn Bradley gets most of the publicity, but Schreiner does most of the work."
So what's happened to Schreiner since the start of 1991?
He doesn't have any specific answers. When pressed about it, Schreiner said, "I really don't know," about three times. Reid said the offense has changed slightly in the last couple of games, allowing Schreiner more chance to play post instead of forward.
"I don't know if we've keyed the offense more for me or not," said Schreiner. "I just personally feel like it has spread the court more."
Many of Schreiner's baskets came because of plain hard work. He scored at least 10 points on follow shots off offensive rebounds. For the night he had 9 offensive rebounds, more than the entire Lobo team.
But the modest Schreiner didn't want to give himself too much credit. "It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Some just fell into my hands."
Schreiner didn't exactly sneak up on the Lobos Saturday. He's played against them for three years now and last year went for 17 points against them in Provo.
During the first timeout of Saturday's game, Bliss told his troops to be aware of where Bradley was at all times on the court, but added, "Schreiner is every bit as important as Bradley out there."
Afterwards Bliss said Schreiner was a big difference in the game. "Defensively we didn't answer the bell on him. We were a nickel short and a minute late most of the time," he said. Schreiner did give some credit to his teammate Bradley, who only managed 7 points and 5 rebounds, but took some of the attention away from Schreiner.
For the rest of the WAC season, opponents will need to key on Schreiner as much as Bradley. You can bet Schreiner won't have any more goose-eggs on his stats this season.