The main difference I see in this group is that we have great to exceptional basketball players that are good to great athletes. In the past we have had a lot of great to exceptional athletes that were good to great basketball players. This team is built far more like our best teams than some of the past few groups. The basketball IQ is so much better as is the defensive desire. I think by the end of this year no one is going to think they got a good draw if they play us. I’m anxious to see these guys go on the road this week. Playing at Colorado State will never be confused with at Kentucky but it should give us a mindset glimpse.
It is a real shame we couldn’t keep Daniel with this group one more year as they could be very special with a year behind them. He is such a talent and soon to be a wealthy young man. Along those lines though if we can grow some of our current bigs into high production roles no one will know who to key on this time next year. I think we are in for a good 3 to 5 year run if we can just land some of the talent available to us.
Along those same lines, to me this year it seems that our talented players we need on the court are also taller/longer. Last year, (except for Gafford) we had talented players, and we had tall players, but those were separate players. You had to have all of or a combination of Macon/Barford/Beard on the court to have any kind of offense, which meant a pretty small lineup. Those are great guards, and maybe individually more talented than any one guard we have this year (with maybe the exception of Joe) but the starting 5 across the board is longer and more athletic this year, which I think fits better into the fastest 40 system. Adrio’s offensive development, if it is for real once competition steps up, is going to be a huge factor in how good this team will be. The 4 has been a blackhole for offensive production the past two years, with the exception of a few outings from Thomas/Bailey.
I Love how hard the team plays but am concerned how we will do when we play the good defense teams B/c I see only 2 shooters from 3 and both are not slashers so defense doesn’t have to worry about that a whole lot.I think we are good if we can get in a uptempo game but not so much in the half court.I think we will get better a we go and the SEC not as good as in the past so we may surprise some people.
Actually Jones and Joe can and have shown they are capable of driving to the basket against the teams we have played. So far this season teams have allowed them to shoot the three as there was no real scouting report on them. I do agree that I am interested in seeing how teams in conference guard them both. I expect teams to attempt to deny the three attempt to both and we will then see if they can create off the dribble against a more potent D than we have yet seen. Jones has and I expect will still get position on guards and be able to get inside when he needs to. Joe hopefully has the strength to keep teams honest and make them also worry about the drive.
Even if we don’t have a guard who is as dynamic driving to the rim, Harris is pretty dynamic finding guys and creating shots with his passing ability. That, plus the addition of effective mid-range shooting from the 4 can compensate for some of that lost play making ability from last year hopefully. Neither Joe nor Gafford need a whole lot of space to be effective from their respective positions, just a little wiggle room. I agree though that it will be interesting to see how it all plays out against a more competitive defense. Although I though both Indiana and Texas defended decently well.
Good post, and I agree. One thing this team has, that last year’s didn’t, is Harris. His recent play, combined with the fact that EVERY team we play will be focused on Gafford, is going to creat more open 3s for Joe and Jones than Macon and Barford got. When Harris penetrates, every team is going to drop their defensive wings down to help on Gafford, leaving either Gafford or Harris able to pass to an open shooter.
I was a little late to see just what we have in Harris, but wow, if his last 3 games are what we can expect the rest of the year, we’ve really got a dandy PG. And, somewhat unnoticed is that he is now our best FT shooter! This means he can be trusted to handle the ball in crunch time at the end of close games. Last year, we had Macon as a great FT shooter, but he didn’t have the ball handling or passing skills of Harris at crunch time.
Though I would readily agree that my basketball IQ is rather pedestrian, it is my thinking that how well we do in conference play will depend a lot on how well the reserves develop from this point. The starting 5 is rather impressive, but we also need quality minutes while these guys are resting. Remembering Nolen’s teams where there was little appreciable letdown when 5 new guys came into the game, I hope to see major improving from these guys off the bench as the season progresses. If this is realized, we might have a very memorable season.