I didn’t see Todd Day and Lee Mayberry on the list of players that won’t walk through the door. So, there must be a slim chance with those two. Just kidding.
Seriously, the biggest thing with this new bunch is “do they know how to win games”. In other words, hit those key shots when it matters or make the key defensive play. No question, talent is there, but we will see if these guys have the “it” factor.
On the flip side, Bill Ingram keeps saying over and over again that a good number of these guys, Joe, Sills, Chaney, Henderson, Embery, Phillips have played against highest level of competition throughout their AAU years and have shown they bring their game when it counts.
Most interesting and intriguing year, unless one is preoccupied with making NCAAT and whether the coaching seat is warm. Just relax, let it happen and enjoy the development of this awesome talent.
There are some parallels to the runts. It will be nearly a completely new team that has a sure-fire NBA player in the middle. That alpha dog will be surrounded by young, talented players that, nonetheless, aren’t 5-star touted. CNR got a little lucky that the runts meshed together so well with every player serving an independent role. Hence, I wouldn’t hold them to that standard, but how well they complement one another will determine their initial success.
The optimistic scenario is that Gafford expands his scoring to be an absolute monster in the middle at both ends. Jones and Joe provide elite shooting to keep the hounds off Gafford and perhaps provide better ball movement than our recent shooters. I think that triangle is going to be good. We’ll have to see just how good. Adding Garland would ensure that we are strong on the wing and SG.
The biggest x-factor on O will be whether Harris, Embery, and/or Sills can give us legit drive, dish, and finish options at PG, i.e. be the Corey Beck in this group, and provide enough treys to keep the D honest. My guess is that between Bailey, Gabe, Chaney, and Henderson we will find more points at the PF than we have in recent years. Phillips could help by giving us efficient perimeter scoring from a forward spot. What I like is that it doesn’t appear on paper that CMA will have to scrounge for points with the second unit, which should make rotations less of a headache.
Defense is an unknown. It may depend on what tradeoffs CMA has to make to keep points on the court. Hopefully the depth of the talent will allow CMA to optimize for defense instead of making sacrifices. We know that we have plus athletes at the five between Gafford, Ali, and Henderson. All the PFs should be able to defend on the perimeter, and we appear to have enough flexibility to deal with power on the baseline. Bailey and Henderson should be good rim protectors. Chaney can bang. Gabe is solid on D inside and out with high IQ.
The question is what kind of defense will we have in the backcourt. Are Harris, Sills, and Embery plus defenders? Joe and Jones have the length to be two-way players. Are they quick enough to excel at that end? What does Phillips bring at the wing? Garland figures to be a two-way player if he gets cleared. Will he?