— Jaylen Barford could give Arkansas a playmaker it hasn’t had at PG in a few years
— Dustin Thomas’ versatility and skillset will be huge assets
— The frontcourt may primarily be a 3-man rotation, at least early, against good competition… some question marks past Kingsley-Thomas-Thompson
— Defense wasn’t great in that setting, but the roster has personnel with tools to be good
— May be more balanced perimeter shooting, which was important
Did you go? Curious what others thought about the frontcourt past the top 3.
The Barford-Hannahs-Macon-Thomas-Kingsley lineup is going to be pretty salty, at least offensively.
I think Macon may operate as the de facto PG as much or more than Beard when Barford rests. Beard played mostly off the ball yesterday when they shared the court. Obviously both can initiate/run Mike’s offense.
I think this team is markedly better than last year’s. Needless to say, Thomas is a huge upgrade. Kingsley and Hannahs should be better. Dusty did some nice off-the-bounce stuff that he just didn’t finish yesterday. I don’t think Daryl will shoot it as well as senior Anthlon, but he’ll be somewhere between the first three Bell years and the last. Much more well-rounded offensive game and he’s a good defender. His and Barford’s matchup was fun.
My concerns/question marks… and some of these are small, bordering on nitpicking. I really do think this team will be good. Just stuff I’ll be watching.
— Only one rim protector, unless Adrio cracks the rotation. Granted, Moses is a really good one.
— Only three bigs who really look ready to contribute. Obviously it’s early. I kind of expect Adrio to come on. Trey needs to continue to be assertive. If they had next year’s schedule and headed to Portland early, he’d probably need be playing at least 20 minutes.
— Is this roster better defensively? Athletically, they have the makeup to be. Durham was far from the issue defensively last year, but Moses has said Barford’s size makes him a better defender at PG. Obviously Dusty won’t ever be even an average defender, but Macon, Barford, Beard and Watkins should be at least above average on that end. CJ will have to keep improving defensively to really play big minutes. I kind of wonder if Moses is really the only plus defender in the frontcourt. Not sold on Dustin there yet. Trey is a good low-post, one-on-one defender, but they won’t face a ton of back-to-basket bigs.
— Encouraged by everything I’ve seen perimeter shooting-wise, but still taking a wait and see approach until it carries over into real games. But I think they have more shooters that the defense has to respect.
— I’ll be interested to see who steps up as a go-to scorer/how the offense flows late in games. Barford will have the ball in his hands and his ability to get to the rim makes him a likely candidate. Dusty may be ready to take on more of that role. Macon isn’t shy about letting it fly and has some juice off the bounce. Moses is a great duck-in threat and if he’s improved his post game, he’s an option. It may be a by-committee thing.
— Manny is the closest thing to an athletic wing at 6-4. Not a huge deal, but they don’t have any skilled 6-5, 6-7 athletes who can play on the perimeter. Maybe Adrio gets there in the future like Qualls did. Qualls’ jumper was farther along as a freshman. I’ve never seen Bailey work with the guards/wings. It’s always been with the bigs, which makes sense because he has the skillset of a big. He told me back in August his high school coached never had him focus on perimeter skills and never really helped with his shot. So when he got to campus, the staff immediately started deconstructing his form and building it back.
Bust is maybe strong, but I don’t know that he’ll contribute at the level people (myself included) thought he might. I think he has the tools to be a decent defense/rebounding/hustle role player if he embraced it, but he has a tendency to either hang onto the ball for too long or hunt his shot when there are better options (yesterday wasn’t an isolated incident from what I’ve seen and heard). Adrio’s ceiling is higher and so that makes me wonder how long Arlando is ahead of him if he tries to do too much.
No true “SF” types was what I was saying, but that is a good, fair point on CJ. I guess I think of him as more of a 2 just because of how skinny he is, but that’s probably dumb on my part since he is 6-5/athletic, the 2/3 are essentially the same and he’ll be the biggest guard/wing in 3-guard lineups when he plays.
Arlando is certainly a big question mark at this time. Good news, IMO, is that he’s aggressive rather than tentative. I didn’t have much expectation. The scoring numbers in Juco told me that he probably wouldn’t contribute much this year in that category. I do think there’s time for him to turn into an adequate front court backup this season. The system should benefit him offensively; if he gives max effort off the bench, he should be able to grab boards, get some chippies. We need him to be able to defend. Need to see more to evaluate that.
TBH, I was more disappointed in Trey Thompson than Arlando Cook. Trey seemed very nonchalant and wasn’t aggressive and was passing up open shots. I remember hearing people in the crowd yell at him to shoot it one time when he had a wide open mid-range shot, and he act like he didn’t want the ball, and just passed it. He also blew an easy layup when Thomas set him up perfectly under the basket, and he just dropped the ball. I know CMA was disappointed in his aggressiveness in Spain as well from listening to the press conference. I was hoping he’d be a lot farther than what he is right now, I think we really need him to be the anchor of that second unit and provide a low post threat.
As far as Cook. I kinda agree with RazorAg, I’d rather see them aggressive and looking to make plays rather than tentative. He was very active under the rim, was grabbing rebounds, and was getting put backs. The only knock I see on him was he was taking some ill-advised shots and tried to force things sometimes. It frustrated Coach Watkins a couple of times, you could see it from him on the bench. Cook is kinda of the JaCorey Williams mold, he tries to do a little too much sometimes, and if you remember JaCorey actually turned into a solid rotation player for us before he left, hopefully Cook can do the same. And I don’t think Cook will ever be a starter for us, I didn’t think he’d be a starter when we signed him, if he can be that 10-15 minute off the bench hustle guy for us for the next 2 years, I think he would have lived up to his expectations.
I actually mentioned both those in my story. The drop as an example of Thomas’ feel.
The shot he passed up was bad because no one closed out and he took a few dribbles. Still, no one close out and he wound up just passing, like you said. He did take (and miss) two other mid-range shots later. He’s a good shooter in practice but has to be able to translate it to the game. I think confidence is the thing.
On Cook, he is active. That was one of my takeaways from the practices in August. I remember one play, I think it’s on video in one of the stories I did back then, where he sprinted the length of the court and forced a missed layup. Total hustle play. So he can be that guy, but the issue arises when he tries to do too much.
Like someone else said, the JUCO numbers were an indication he wasn’t going to come in and be a big scorer. But he plays like he thinks he is at times, taking ill-advised shots. Other times, he just pounds the ball rather than keep it moving. Those are more my knocks on him. Was in August too.
Obviously there’s still time for that to correct itself. I still think he’ll open the season as the fourth big and can do well if he embraces his role. If not, Adrio is at least as active and more athletic.
I am not too worried about Cook taking ill-advised shots at this time. Remember you had mentioned the same of CJ. I believe it is a lot easier for the coaches to correct that than for getting someone to not hesitate and take open shots. Mike can correct that a lot easier than gettingbTrey to put it up. Frankly, I have never understood why anyone wants to come out for basketball, if they do not want to score.
I’m a huge fan of CJ’s game and think he’s the best pro prospect on the team. He is a volume shooter and there’ll be some questionable shots at times. But he’s got a scorer’s skillset. I think he’ll have a pretty green light coming off the bench this year. If he’s on, he’ll play more that night. If not, he probably won’t because scoring is what he brings to the table right now.
Arlando isn’t a natural scorer, so there are shots he’s taking that are better served going to others. His role isn’t to score. Duck-ins, putbacks, garbage points are fine. Routinely taking mid-range jumpers and trying to make plays off the bounce when you’re not really great at either isn’t. Mike can definitely correct it, all I’m doing is pointing out it’s an area that may need to be reigned in.
But your point that its easier to correct shooting too much than playing passive is true. You can also play aggressive without forcing low-percentage shots.
I just glimpsed over the article the first time, but just read it entirely now, and yea you did hit on both situations, very good observations.
And out of all the good things I seen from this team, like I said that’s what I was most disappointed to see Thompson not really progressing like I thought he would. Reason for this is if Thompson can play at a high level at provide a consistent low post scorer in the second unit, that means we can keep Moses under the 30 MPG mark, which last year, he averaged right at 30 MPG, and a lot of games he went well over that, and he was wore down at the end of the season. In this system, 30 minutes is a whole lot. If he can do around 25-27 MPG I think that’s perfect for Moses, but Trey has got to step it up for him to be able to do that.
Agreed. Seeing the frontcourt rotation and who Mike pairs with who is really going to be interesting.
Obviously other guys will play more in nonconference. Moses will probably play more in big games. Who gets those other minutes or if they feel the need to go with predominantly 3 guys will be interesting. And I wouldn’t totally rule out someone potentially eating into Trey’s time. Just depends on how the other 3 progress.
I agree with you on that. Jones is the prototypical NBA 2 guard, 6"5 - 6’6, long wing span, athletic, and can shoot the ball. He reminds me a lot of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who played for Georgia a few years ago, he now plays for the Pistons. However, when KCP was a freshman his ball handling was much better than Jones. That’s one thing CJ really has to work on, and he’s gotta add a little more weight.
Yea that looks about right. Although like you said numbers will be skewed a little bit due to non-conference, I think CMA will have that back-up 4 spot open during the non-conference and we’ll see Cook, Bailey, and Hazen all get some minutes there. And IMO, Hazen could be the sleeper. He can really shoot the ball, and has great size. His only knock right now is his quickness and defense. He has the motor and is rentless on the glass, if he can adjust to the speed and show he’s not a liability on defense, watch out for him.
Yeah, they’ll all 3 get time. I really like the foundation of Hazen’s game. Yesterday was by far the best he’s looked shooting it and he took shots without hesitation, which was good to see. He does a great job finding crevices to rebound and use his vertical. That’ll be even better once he adds strength.
Glad you pointed out his quickness. He’s obviously a good leaper, but he’s slow laterally and that really hurts him on defense (along with not being as strong as others). I think this team will score well so he’ll really need to improve on defense to carve out a regular spot in the rotation, but he’s got a nice ceiling just based off his skillset. Once he gets comfortable putting the ball on the floor to attack closeouts, he’ll be tough to guard.
Yea, Hazen is my best long term guy on the team. He’s the type of 4 year player, that’s just a nightmare for teams his junior and senior year. If he doesn’t make rotation this year and transfers out, I’ll be sad about it. I think CMA knows that too, that’s why he always makes sure to mention him and give him props whenever he speaks on the new guys. He’s a legit 6’9 guy that can rebound, shoot, put the ball on the floor, and has a really good feel for the game. I think a off-season is going to do wonders for him, they’ll be able to get some weight on him, and do drills for his lateral quickness (I don’t want to see anyone juke him out of his shoes like Macon did at the red/white game again lol).
Watkins as a senior will do whatever he is asked to do I will say this if he can score from the perimeter consistently he will get his fair share of minutes the same for Beard. Bailey will be groomed to play the three and some four, RJ is being groomed to play the three and some two…I would imagine Mike want those guys out to interrupt passes in lanes…