By Andrew Hussey / Photos by Scott Brooks
For VYPE Magazine (Central Indiana)
The word “gunner” in basketball has taken on a negative connotation lately. Often, it is used to describe a player who takes ill-advised shots, especially from long-range. Carmel’s lean, 6-foot-5 point guard Ryan Cline is shattering that archetype thanks to his blistering shooting beyond the arc and his unwavering confidence.
Ryan Cline (3), a junior, is averaging 15.9 points per game for the Class 4A Carmel Greyhounds.
Cline is a junior, but you would think he is much older by the way he carries himself on and off the court. The examples being set by Carmel head coach Scott Heady and the players who came before him, such as Michael Volovic, contribute to that.
“(He) taught me how to lead and carry myself as a Carmel basketball player,” Cline said. “We have a target on our backs because of the name on our jerseys, and we have to play with a chip on our shoulders because of it. Every team wants to beat us. We are their biggest game.”
The senior backcourt last year won a state title, and taught Cline how to handle the pressure of Carmel basketball and other intangibles needed to grow beyond a clutch sharpshooter.
Behind his calm and cool appearance lie the lessons his father, Mike Cline, taught him growing up. His father has coached Cline from the age of 6 and continues to do so even today.
“He gives me insight after every game and helps me see what I could do better,” Cline said. “He played at Ohio State and he definitely knows what he is talking about.”
His coach has even higher praise for his star player, especially after a gutsy performance against Hamilton Southeastern last Thursday, which the Greyhounds won 55-54.
“He has a lot of confidence. I see him every day in practice, and I think he is one of the best shooters in the state of Indiana,” Heady said.
His performance against HSE was a key example of his calm and confidence, only hitting two lone free throws in the first half and then hitting numerous clutch 3-pointers in the second half.
“My teammates were continuing to get me open, and I just wanted to step up for my team,” Cline said. “Coach was calling plays for me and we were moving the ball really well, getting me in position to makes shots.”
Ryan Cline (3), a junior, is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range for the Carmel Greyhounds.
Cline had 18 points, with four 3-pointers coming in the clutch.
The transition from specialist to leading scorer on a championship-level team shouldn’t be this seamless, but it has been for Cline.
Heady notes, “he’s learned to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket, along with making plays. He’s really gotten better defensively.”
The experience of last year’s championship game has motivated Cline to get back to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse and feel that “thrill” again.
Working tirelessly this summer, Cline used his AAU experience to become more of an all-around player.
He used the time “to try new things.” … “I was experimenting with how to play the game and play with new people. It made me a better player.”
Cline also worked diligently in the weight room.
“He has room to grow into his frame, adding weight to deal with the double teams that come at him,” Heady said.
He’s learned to move beyond just “camping in the corner, to becoming a point guard who leads and finds teammates, creates their shots, while still looking for my own shot.”
What makes him such a vital part of the team, Heady says is, “how great he helps our spacing. We routinely get layups from cuts that we make because someone always has to be covering him.”
Cline says he likes “coming off screens to shoot” best.
“I really think my shooting provides a balance as we can work the ball down low and kick it back out. It’s a great way to play and be successful,” Cline said.
Averaging 15.9 points per game as the team’s leading scorer, Cline looks to add to Carmel’s already impressive championship legacy. However, he knows he has to elevate his game beyond his 42 percent shooting from 3-point range if the Greyhounds are going to three-peat in Class 4A.