Touched on most of this in more detail in observations, but…
— Gafford played 26 minutes tonight. Think he’s gonna have to get at least 25 a game if he isn’t in foul trouble. His impact is huge. They ran one play for him all game and he scored 15, just off his athletic ability and being available. His rim protection is a game-changer.
— Hall was all over the place defensively. Had 4 steals and 3 blocks. Isn’t going to do a ton offensively, but did have a nice straight-line drive. Needs to take and make a few 3s early in the conference season to get his confidence up. Played 16 minutes tonight. I’d imagine that goes up with
— Jaylen and Daryl combined for a pretty nonchalant 45, if that’s possible. Could be plenty of 40-plus nights for them.
— Pace. They’re playing incredibly fast right now. Will probably slow down some against better competition, but I think the pace suits the team’s athleticism and is good when factoring in they don’t have a ton of high-level shot creators when they’re in the halfcourt.
— Their small-ball and super-big lineups were both +9 in significant minutes. The lineup with Dan and Trey was solid in the first half and Mike went to it early in the second, then went small the final 12:52. Asked Daryl about it after and he affirmed what I saw as far as much better spacing and ball movement.
— The 3-point defense was brutal. You can’t dictate whether a 3 goes in, but you can try to limit how many they take. MWU got up 27 and they were mostly good looks. A lot of corner 3s as a result of the defense breaking down and guys maybe over helping. Gafford left the strong-side corner wide open once and paid for it. The weak-side help sank down too far a number of times.
Teams didn’t shoot it great against them last year, but teams were able to get off an above-average amount, so it’s not a one-time thing. Mike loves to double post-ups and hedge/trap on screens, which can lead to open 3s, but I thought a lot of the ones they gave up tonight were the result of over-helping.
— Turnovers. This may be somewhat a result of playing as fast as they are. You can live with some of them, but they’ve been sloppy. Not too unexpected early in the year. Mike’s teams are generally good about taking care of the ball.
— Depth is an issue at this point. Jaylen played 36, Daryl and Anton 32. They had a 5-guard rotation last year, but everyone played at least 20 most nights. Darious and C.J. have to earn the trust to be out there more. Playing small-ball also means more minutes for the guards. Safe to assume Gabe isn’t getting regular rotation minutes at this point.
— Adrio was bad. Had no impact on the defensive end and was timid on offense. Played less than a minute in the second half and was called for a charge and then ruined another possession by turning down an open shot and dribbling the air out of the ball. Has to be decisive and use his athleticism. This is a big opportunity for him and right now he isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence.
— Anton has played great defensively, but struggled on offense all preseason. Hit a few shots late that made his line look good, but had some sloppy turnovers. They really need him to be smart with the ball.
— Trey made some typical, smart plays, but he looks very cumbersome, more so than usual. Doesn’t help that it’s juxtaposed with Gafford. Played 25 minutes, so hopefully he’ll be able to play his way into better shape early in the year.
— The starting lineup was a net negative in the two games. I like the idea of a Barford-Macon-Hall-Bailey-Gafford group or replace Hall with Jones. Use the small-ball group with Barford, Macon, Jones, Hall and Gafford/Thompson a bunch. I imagine Thomas will return to the starting lineup once he gets back in the swing of things.