5 Observations from Austin Peay (w/vid)

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— Not a great opponent, but all of Mike’s rotation tweaks stemming from starting lineup No. 3 (Barford, Macon, Watkins, Thomas, Kingsley) worked. The starters were +14 in almost 9 minutes together, the bench outscored Austin Peay’s 55-12 and the big lineup of Beard, Hannahs, Bailey, Cook and Thompson outscored Austin Peay 23-4 in 9+ minutes. Obviously you can’t draw any definitive conclusions given the competition and knowing Mike will continue to tinker, but I liked the more defensive starting group and using Hannahs as instant offense off the bench. He broke out of his slump. Defense has held 2 straight teams to less than 90 points per 100 possessions. Offense posted a big 135.6 rating, the result of playing inside-out well, scoring off turnovers and in transition, good 3-point shooting and Austin Peay just not being very good.

— They worked through Moses in the post more and it opened stuff up for the halfcourt offense because of Austin Peay doubling him. He had a career-high 5 assists and was patient when he got doubled, surveying the landscape. Guys played well off of his post-ups, too, creating passing lanes. Dustin in the high post against the 2-3 was money. I honestly don’t know that I’d double Moses if I was an opposing coach, cause he’s not a great back-to-the-basket scorer. But if teams are going to continue to do so, he’s shown he’s a good enough passer when he doesn’t get in a hurry that they can get a lot of good stuff off that.

— Adrio Bailey had 14-7-2 in 18 minutes. He’s gotten 30 minutes the last 2 games after playing 19 the first 5, which includes one DNP-CD. Very active and played with a good motor. He can do things athletically the other bench bigs can’t. He worked well with Kingsley, too. I thought he and Cook were active together. C.J. is instant offense. May be worse rotating on defense than Dusty, but the dude can put up points. Still can’t dribble that well, but that ceiling is so high.

— Bailey, Cook and Thompson were all in that big lineup together and they beat up a small Austin Peay team. Wonder how much Mike goes back to this, if at all, moving forward. He’d only used a 3-big lineup once in the first six games and it was a garbage-time group that included Hazen. This could be his way to get Adrio minutes and also get more length/defense on the court around Dusty.

— Barford and Beard were each effective in their own ways. Barford has been at his best pushing the pace and attacking the rim. He’s got a great ability to be going full speed and then contort his body for nifty finishes. Beard has been very cool and collected, under control and getting where he wants on the court. Both had four assists. Beard has been the better distributor so far this year and was more impressive in that regard Saturday in that he actually created looks for guys with nice feeds. He’s been impressive all year.

— Stray thoughts

I blame the terrible last possession at the end of the half on Beard. He was the PG on that possession. Clearly plan was to run out the shot clock and take a shot at the end. So, as NBA PGs do, Beard is supposed to handle the ball till late, then either dribble penetrate, find an open man or shoot himself or take a deep shot. Beard tried to dribble penetrate, got trapped and ended up giving the ball to a surprised Kingsley in a spot on the floor he least expected.

On Bailey, all but two of his points came from dunks or layups. The other two were of a jump shot. The form on his jump shot was quite encouraging. It looked better than Qualls. Keep working Adrio on the jumper and the handle. I see big things for him by his junior year. Big future as SF/SG.

Beard definitely put Moses in a bad position by dropping it off where he did, but I didn’t get why Moses floated up there when he’d been in perfect position for a duck-in with Dusty flanking him on the wing. Dustin was the big setting the brush screen and kinda half-rolled, so when Moses floated up it congested the area for Anton. The premise of the possession was solid. Spread them out. I didn’t do a great job in the story explaining what I didn’t like.

And yeah, Bailey’s offense is going to be mostly/all garbage points on boards and duck-ins. His athleticism should help him in both areas. You think he’ll wind up a 3/2? I see him more as always being a primarily post player, maybe a 4/3 kind of like Alandise. I looked this up a while back and Alandise was listed at 6-5, 220 coming out of high school, so 15 pounds more than Adrio. Adrio and Qualls are almost identical in their listed height and weight, but I guess I always think Bailey is built more sturdily. Mike echoed that last night. I guess it’ll come down how much he improves his skill set.

On his shooting, I kind of alluded to it in the story but they were really working with him on that in July/August. Completely reworked his shot. His high school coach gave him basically no direction form-wise. If you look at his high school highlight tape, there may not be a single jumper in there. Pretty sure it was all dunks/blocks. Like you said, his form last night looked good.

I went back and took another look at the sequence just before the half. You are right. There is no good reason why Moses ended up in that spot and most probably confused Anton. That spot would have been a better one for Thomas to be in. the boys are still wandering around a bit.

On Bailey, I am looking at that form on that one jump shot and recalling how Qualls looked. During his freshman year, no one thought Qualls could shoot, but he kept working at it and as a junior looked like a good college combo SF/SG and a projected pro SG. After last night, going out on a limb, I kind of sense the same projection for Adrio. However, I think his progress will be slower than Qualls, because the roster back then allowed Qualls to get more PT. Of course, this is all speculation. At the same time, you may be right in that he would be mostly an undersized stretch 4. He does get up there like a 6-8 kid. Alandise didn’t have that hop.

Let’s see how this all plays out. It is very possible that once SEC starts, Mike may shorten the player rotation and we may not see too much of Adrio till next year. But man, he is just oozing with potential and big upside.

It is good to see Adrio and CJ get the minutes. They could make this a deep deep team.

BTW. I thought you would claim some credit for projecting that Dusty would not start last night. You had half-jokingly mentioned that few days ago.

It made lots of sense that Arkansas would go to a defense-oriented starting five, because letting opponents get comfortable in their offense early in the game was a bad idea.

Comments: it is obvious this young man does not have a future at this level or the next playing the four position they are grooming him to play the 3 slot the sooner he adjust the more deadly this team becomes

Ha! I was definitely joking. I was in total agreement with you. Didn’t think Mike would move him to the bench, but he did and it’s worked out well.

As far as the next level, yeah, he’d be an average or slightly below average sized 2.

Right now he practices with the bigs, not the guards/wings, so I don’t know that I’d say they’re actively grooming him as a 3. But I do think in time he can be a combo forward if his skill set continues to expand. That’ll be the key: how much improvement can he make as far as perimeter skills go? Because at this point he can’t shoot consistently, can’t handle well and is more used to playing defense as a big.

If they use him as a 3 right now, he’s limited in what he does. For example, Cook was the one spotting up on the perimeter to space the floor in the 3-big lineup Saturday night. But Bailey can hone the perimeter skills in the offseason. He’s so raw that he has the potential to be molded in a number of ways.