Basketball Thoughts So Far (Long)

Since we have a week-long break, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the season so far.

Overall:

I think we’ve met the expectations I had going in. I’m cautiously optimistic about our future this season. We have the ability to be a top 5 conference team and safely make the NCAAT. We’ve shown our fire power on offense; we’ve also showed that we’re still figuring out our rotation and roles. When Notae isn’t playing cleanly, sometimes you can detect the difficulty to get a bucket. Our base offense and sets have looked crisp in my opinion, though. We’ve seen the space with the 4-in 1-out and sometimes 5-out offense. Against zone, we’ve looked ok, but I’m not as confident in our effectiveness there. Finishing around the rim has been a problem area at times, and I think that’s a mentality/strength issue mostly in my opinion.

On defense, fundamentally and assignment-wise, we look really good. You see that they know where to be. We do have a few players that don’t lock in at times, but most of them do. The problem area is what Muss talked about preseason - lateral quickness and playing with our feet. We have some players that just don’t/can’t sit down and guard particularly well right now.

As always, I’ve loved Muss’ gameplans. Man, it feels good to have that on our side. I like the run and jump trap stuff we’ve done. The fact that we’ve actually zoned a little bit, although no real effect, is a good sign to me. Rotation-wise, I think we’ve seen what he says we’ll see. Certainly early on in blowout cases, we’ve seen more players, as we should.

Players:

  • Tate: He’s been excellent in my opinion, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t taken a little pleasure seeing some of the haters quieted. Just listening to Muss preseason, I felt like he’d prove to be effective. I also had a feeling he’d shoot it better than he did last year. He has a tight-enough handle and facilitates our offense well. Defensively, he is as advertised - excellent. I see people talk about how he’s not that quick. I scratch my head at that. I see great quickness.

  • Sills: He’s done what we need out of him. I’d like to see him a little more aggressive off the bounce at times, but that’s a small complaint. He’s shown great confidence from three (and looks really, really good).

  • Moody: Those of us that have followed him closely since he was in high school have seen what we expected. He’s not great off the bounce and at times, he’s makes himself small around the rim, but he’s so smart and skilled. He chooses his spots to score well. I love the Scotty Thurman comparison; very similar players. He’ll struggle staying in front of his man sometimes, but his anticipation and hands are big time defensive weapons. I think the pleasant surprise for me has been his rebounding. I attribute that to his maturity; he knows we need it, so he’s up’d his effort there.

  • Smith: Overall, I’m happy, although he frustrates me some with his decaisions offensively and soft mentality at times. I think that will continue to happen. He’s so versatile and athletic. Just a solid player. I’ve been pleased with how he’s rebounded. We need him to be more consistent with his intensity.

  • Vanover: So, so happy. Having seen him so much when he was in high school, I’m so happy for him. Look, he’s going to be limited in certain areas and situations. And, we’ll have to live with that, but I’ve been so pleased with his development and production. I’m like everyone else - what will happen when he goes against SEC competition? I don’t know, but I’m confident that we’re going to get value from him - rebounding, altering/blocking shots and hitting some three’s. I think what will be fascinating is how Muss plays the risk/reward game with him. Is he willing to give up some perimeter defense for Vanover’s rebounding and offense?

  • Notae: I just laugh when I start to type this. Man, he’s aggressive. Against UCA, we saw what we can get out of him, and I think we should feel optimistic that we’ll see more of good-JD vs. bad-JD. But, make not mistake, bad-JD will happen more; be ready. There have been multiple times I’ve said, Wow! He has multiple weapons in the offensive arsenal. As others have said, he’s been a willing passer too and that’s been pleasantly surprising. Gun to head, I think he becomes our go-to for buckets when we need them, and I see him closing out games. I also like him off the bench going forward.

  • Robinson: He’s playing timid and is not in a good head-space right now. I think Muss is probably coaching him really hard, and KK is trying to figure it out. He has all the tools. We will need him. But, we need him to find the balance of aggressiveness and smart play. I’ve been most disappointed/surprised with the lack of play-making off the bounce. He’s ultra-quick and great with the ball. I don’t have a great feel for his vision and passing ability. He’s still transitioning a little from scoring guard to point guard. This will be an area to watch. Last night in Muss’ PC, he said, “we have two PG’s, Jalen and JD.” KK is down the depth chart and that’s ok, but he can climb back up and again, we’ll need his minutes at times.

  • Devo: Big time. That mentality that I think has hurt some players, Devo uses it to his advantage. When Devo was a rising 10th grader, I felt like he had the biggest upside of Chris Moore and Gerald Doakes, who were more highly regarded at the time. Devo got hurt and seemed to suffer from a little lack of maturity along the way, but that seems to be behind him. His jumper has also been a weakness and some of it was form-based. That seems cleaned up, and it’s coming along. If he takes care of the ball, guys, he’s going to be really, really good because he’s got a lot of juice in all phases of the game. Love his development. Not sure how much he’ll play going forward, but as others have mentioned, he may pass KK and that’s ok. Both will be fine.

  • Williams: Really happy with him so far. Against Lipscomb, he got a little sloppy with his passing, but otherwise, he’s been sound. He’s flashed his excellent rebounding ability. He knows where to be. He’s shown his ability to knock down the three. He will have to come along offensively, but he can give you minutes.

  • Jackson: Yeah, we started to hear some rumbles in preseason, and unfortunately, we’ve seen what hasn’t allowed Vance to realize his ranking coming out of high school. It’s energy and toughness mostly. If he would just play hard consistently, he’d play a ton. He doesn’t though. That limits his value to a three point shooter. And, if those aren’t going down, he won’t play. Ability is there.

  • Henderson: Glad we have him if we need him. He’s better than a lot of the league’s 11th man.

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Outstanding takes, as usual.

Yep, I concur with this. He sure looks like he has all the physical tools.

Notae is the most offensively gifted player on the team. Sometimes tries to do too much, you know the whole hero ball thing. Willing passer. He plays good D when he wants which I’m sure is a big issue with Muss.

WRT grad transfers, been really impressed with Notae, Tate, and Vanover.

Smith and Jackson, not so much.

Devo will win most of the 50/50 loose ball situations cuz he’s just so freakin’ quick.

Bingo. He’s so in his head right now that his quickness and overall talents are not on display. His confidence seems to be shot. I hope he can get it back together. There will be games in SEC play that we’ll need the real KK to be on display.

Devo reminds me of Manny Watkins. Fair?

Devo is much better than Manny ever was.

KK will be fine once he stops thinking and just plays. There have been too many times that I’ve watched him pass up a good 3 and then over pass into a turnover. He’s a freshman playing the most difficult position on the court. He just needs to see a few shots fall and a few passes lead to assists. I have no doubt he will get there. Muss just needs to keep pumping up his confidence.

Playing behind Tate (a grad transfer) and Notae (a 4 year guy). Of course he appears a bit slow after only 6 games, during this strange year.

Informative… nice analysis.

Excellent analysis.

This years Hogs have shown an improvement rebounding but the free throw line isn’t very good! The small sample based on these early games while encouraging we won’t know much until the hogs face some better teams.
There’s depth and options with more players that have the ability to score.
So far I was guessing I’d say our hogs are about 4 th in the SEC.

I agree on the FT’s, if it doesn’t get a lot better it will be costly down the line…

As always, nice analysis. Worth a read.

Scotty Thurman maybe the closest to Moses. However, Moses is more athletic than Scotty. Remember Scotty didn’t get drafted because of that. Moody is certain to get drafted. I don’t think he will be a lottery pick, but a definite first rounder.

Memory may have faded, but I don’t remember Scotty making himself smaller around the rim. On that particular skill, Moses is more like Ky Madden who did make himself small and blew many bunnies.

Scotty’s range was unlimited. Maybe Moses has that. What we don’t know is the way he will play on road as a freshman.

Scotty did some incredible things on road, especially at Arizona and Missouri that first year. Wow stuff.

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Thank you for the well thought out analysis. GHG!

Thanks for the very informative and pretty much spot on analysis. Also 100% agree on FT shooting needs improvement, games are won and lost there as we very well know.

I believe that that our guards and small forwards are going to be competitive at the very least. The 4 and 5, while they are much better than last year’s players, may struggle with some SEC front lines. All the bigs need to improve, but they will be fundamentally strong and will get better as conference games start. Coach Muss will have all the team better by conference play and will continue to tweak lineups to give the Hogs their best chance to win. And his players have a much more diverse skill set and they have depth to withstand the intensity of a SEC schedule.

:sunglasses:

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