There are just so many unknowns with all the frosh and transfers coming in, I can’t come up with what I think would be the best starting five. I’ve put 3 categories together for the 13 players (without Joe). They are:
Probable big (18+) minutes (listed by highest probability of initially starting)
Possible big (18+) minutes:
I have Williams and KK as the 2 lowest probability of starting, but I think both have a good chance of starting by the SEC schedule.
There’s been previous posts about Desi and whether or not he will start. I have mixed thoughts about that. Last season, he was at his best when he was coming off the bench during most of the SEC schedule. Because of his time in the system, his 3 point shooting, and all around defensive game, I think he’ll initially start.
The top 5 are without a “true” PG, but I believe Jalen will be adequate, but may not be his best position. KK, Jackson, and Williams could all be starters by the SEC schedule. Before we got Smith, I would have had Vance as a starter. One thing for sure, our PF/C spots have become a team strength with Jackson, Williams, Connor, and Smith bouncing between the 3 and the 4.
Most importantly, this is a very strong 8 deep line-up. 2 more, I believe can be significant contributors. This is without Isaiah Joe. If IJ comes back, just pencil him in as #1 and drop everyone by one spot. His presence would, I believe make this a top 15 team and a real threat in the Big Dance.
10 new faces on the team
Only 2 of them have had P5 experience
Of the 4 freshmen, only one is an immediate impact freshman. Other 3 will require at least the non-conference season to settle in.
So, we have 5 players with P5 experience plus one immediate impact freshman. You can probably stretch that to 7 with Jackson. There are question marks about the other 6 as to how quickly they can adjust.
I am giving a lot of weight to P5 experience. Some may question that, but history is on that side. Mid major transfers and freshmen that are not 5 stars or high 4 stars are just like jucos. It takes time.
Muss has a big challenge of defining roles and team chemistry. I don’t think he can do that and at the same time win games by playing a lot of players. I can’t see Muss playing more than 9. I think 4 of these guys are going to be sitting a lot.
As far as starting 5, I think we will start the first game with
Tough question. Possibles for one, because of 3-point shooting would be Moody, Jackson, or Desi. Nobody saw Jones as a great driver/scorer before last year. Maybe the driver/scorer ala Jones could be Tate? Maybe Jackson, if he can fix his ball handling, since he’s a terrific shooter?
Of course one of those 2 guys will be Joe if he returns.
Also missing from last year will be the 2 GREAT free throw shooters in Joe and Jones if Joe doesn’t return. That could be huge in close games.
I think JD Notae is possibly being underrated in this thread. Muss stated after the season in one of his many interviews that JD was the player in practice that no one wanted to guard. If IJ returns I see 7 players fighting for time at the 1,2 & 3… Joe, Sills, Notae, Tate, Moody, Davis & Robinson. I’m guessing 5 of those will get the majority of PT.
That leaves 7 competing for playing time at the 4 & 5. (I’m counting Jackson with this group, though I gather he could play the 3.) Jackson, Smith, Vanover, Williams, Henderson, Chaney & Iyiola.
Obviously, we can’t keep 14. To me, we’re more crowded at 4&5 so it makes sense that one of those 7 will not return.
I would be surprised and disappointed if Williams is not in the starting. He appears to be our most skilled offensive 4-5. I think Jackson may can help out in this area too, but both of those have the ability to be able to score inside and out. We have so many options it’s going to be fascinating to see how the minutes play out.hopefully they can all buy into the team concept but I’m sure there will be a few not happy with their minutes.
And, we have bigs now that have G attributes. They either can shoot the 3 and/or face you up from distance and take it to the rim. We have bigs of modern basketball. They can shoot it and drive it.
Hope Chaney and Henderson have worked on their handle and perimeter shot. It has held them back in minutes. Gotta be able to face up from distance and shoot it or drive it or both. Defense helps but one dimensional post slugs are dinosaurs. We have bigs that can score it, multiple.
I have been thinking about this. But if Joe does not come back, they are all good players, but if I was playing Arkansas, at this point other than Moody no one puts a scare in me like Jones or Joe.
Maybe someone will develop to be that scorer the other team has to stop. But someone or two will separate themselves from the crowd to be that.
Now I am sure some will argue that we will have 5 options on the floor. But I have always believed that you have to have one or two players you can go to when you got to have a bucket. Whether it is Day and Mayberry or Corliss and Scotty or Joe or Jones. These combos have won a lot of games for us in a clutch. The teams that don’t have these clutch scorers usually lose close games.
you can all probably tell that I’m biased, but Connor can really shoot. Doesn’t need a tone of room at his height. We don’t know how clutch he is, but he better figure into the other team’s defensive scheme or he could routinely light them up.
The one practice I saw last year, Notae really looked quick and confident.
I’m like all you guys, just can’t wait to see how t his team plays.
It’s interesting to see who everyone picks to start early in the year. IMHO with or without Joe I think that the 5 position is Vanover’s to lose. He is basicly a third year player that finished his freshman season on a roll and he will definitely have improved this last year under Muss. If Joe comes back (and I think he will) he’s another for sure starter (I know we all agree on that). That leaves 3 more starters. I think those three will be a battle between Tate, Moody, Jackson and Smith. Because of Muss’ loyalty to his players Desi may be also be included as a possible starter. Players who will battle for early playing time are KK, JD, Williams and maybe even Davis. Henderson, Chaney and Iyiola will decide early on how bad they want it. If Joe comes back Chaney may have to battle Henderson for the last spot. Chaney had the least amount of offensive skills last year (no one had to even guard him when he was on the court).
I know for sure that with all those players fighting for playing time it may get down to who plays the best defense, especially at gut level time late in games.