I was never really a Marvel guy until about 2010, but I have seen enough of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to build an understanding that Matt Pile could actually be the real Captain America.
I am not going to sit here and start a conspiracy that Matt Pile became the way that he is, physically, because of some super serum put together in some lab, but I’m not going to sit here and tell anyone that it’s not possible. I’m sure Pile built his physical presence up in a gym, but his 6 blocks against the Pioneers would likely have Denver wanting him to be tested for any scientific advantages he may possess.
Okay, I don’t really want to talk about Pile’s physical characteristics anymore, because, well, this is weird enough. But what else does Pile possess for me to come up with such a claim?
Captain America doesn’t back down from a challenge, and neither does Matt Pile. Capt moves without fear, as does Matt Pile.
When faced up against one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, Pile had to go up against NBA prospects. Pile went right at them because he didn’t want to show fear. When going up against South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, when Pile first got the ball, he looked right at Daum and took it right to the basket for a bucket. On defense, when first against Daum, Daum tried going right back at him, and Pile blocked his shot.
Captain America is the tactician of whatever team he is on. It would be a stretch to refer to Pile as a “floor general” in any sense, but he’s quite tactical on the court to use his strengths to help his team.
Watch Pile whenever he first gets the ball down on the block in any game. With his back to the basket, he’ll look at his defender, he’ll look at the basket, and he’ll figure out his first move to show his defender who is stronger, and not that he’s not afraid.
As the game progresses and he catches the ball down on the block, with his back to the basket, he’ll stand there, maybe take a few dribbles, and watch teammates on the perimeter move around for an open basket, and he is completely capable of finding them.
Random thought: The dumbest scene in all of the Marvel Universe is in “Captain America: Civil War” when Steve Rogers is holding the helicopter from flying away, and he switches arms positions, which the director wanted to do apparently because he just thought it looked cool. Why wouldn’t the powered chopper just pull Rogers clear into the sky with it for the second he lets go of the platform? I have no idea, but the scene would’ve been just as good, if not better, with Matt Pile as Captain America.
The free throws aren’t there, yet, and South Dakota and South Dakota State both exposed that Pile needs to figure out what to do when being double teamed, but he’s got a long basketball career ahead of him and he will figure that stuff out. Also, how many freshmen in the Summit League are drawing double teams? None. Just Matt Pile.
There was a game in Tre’Shawn Thurman’s freshman year that I thought was really his coming out party. It was ironically against Nevada, but he played with such confidence and swagger, and you could tell he felt he was the best player on the court. I thought he was the best freshman Omaha had landed after watching him that game.
After watching Pile play Denver, I thought maybe Pile was the best freshmen Omaha has landed so far. Pile had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 blocks that night. That may not have the feel of “this kid is the future” but he absolutely boggled Denver’s minds that night. They couldn’t figure out how to score in the post with Pile on the floor. Daniel Amigo, one of the best post players in the league, couldn’t match up against Pile. As good as Thurman was against Nevada in the Baxter Arena, I never felt like Nevada was just frustrated by the guy’s presence like Denver. I mostly just felt like Nevada was bad.
Also, coincidentally, both Thurman and Pile were able to take advantage of opportunities with older players being slowed down by injuries. Pile received more playing time with Mitch Hahn, and now Lamar Wofford-Humphrey being injured. Thurman picked up minutes with Jake White was sidelined, and the playing time probably helped him develop faster. Hopefully, it can pay off in the same way for Pile.
Captain America may not have the coolest abilities out of all the Avengers, but he has the biggest heart and displays the biggest signs of leadership. Matt Pile may not be the leader of the Mavericks, yet, but make no mistake that one day he will be Captain Omerica.
The Mavericks still have 6 regular season games remaining, and at least one Summit League tournament game to play, and Pile has already made an impression on the program. This season he:
- Had 6 blocks against Denver, which was the most by any Maverick in a basketball game since transition
- Has 29 blocks on the season, one more and he’ll pass Tre’Shawn Thurman by an freshman since transition. He’s 7 blocks away from passing Thurman for the most by any Mav for blocks on a season since transition.
- Was the first Maverick freshman to record a double-double since transition. It was against Doane, but it still counts.
- Has the 4th most points by a freshman in a season since transition, he’s 28 points away from passing Marcus Tyus for 3rd.