I’d start Thompson instead of Gafford tomorrow. Obviously, it has nothing to do with who the better player is; it’s about protecting young Daniel from himself in the early going.
Think about it. How often has Daniel gotten past the first TV timeout before he got his first foul? Answer - hardly ever. Furthermore, how many of those first fouls have been - to put it bluntly - “dumb” fouls? Answer - almost all of them. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him get called for a silly reach-in foul 25 feet from the basket! That’s NOT where he needs to be committing fouls.
I believe it’s because his adrenaline is so high that he’s all over the place, trying to make defensive plays he should (and probably does) know better than to try. Early game over-excitement. Why not let him watch the first 4-5 minutes from the bench to get mentally into the flow of the game, and then put him in. After all, we’re going to need 15-20 minutes from Trey anyhow. And if we do start Daniel, and he gets a couple of early fouls, we’re gonna be in trouble.
And, for that matter, this goes double IF we survive and play Purdue and their huge center. If we’ve got 10 fouls to burn on that goon, let’s let the first couple come on Trey, not Daniel.
Again - I don’t expect Mike to follow this approach. I’m pretty sure he will start Gafford. But I do think it would be the best route for us, at least these first two games.