This team far exceeded my expectations this weekend

My goodness. They look really, really good.

Offensively, their raw rating was a 131.5. UCLA had a nation-best 121.1 last year. Asked Mike about the ball and player movement afterward and he said he thought they were stagnant some but solid. I guess there were some stagnant moments in the second half today, but I was honestly extremely impressed with how guys moved off the ball, shared it, screened for each and all that. Didn’t look like the same team they had last year. Been very impressed with the buy-in.

Adrio Bailey did a complete about-face from the exhibitions. He’s everywhere. Playing with a lot of confidence.

Macon and Barford are so smooth. You can’t really guard Jaylen when the jumper is falling. Got hot and took maybe a few too many contested mid-rangers, but he looks great.

Very interested to see the numbers for the group with one of the senior guards, Jones and the 3 freshmen. Eye test, they looked very good. That’s a lot of length when you go senior, 6-5 Jones, 6-6 Hall, 6-8 Osabuohien, 6-11 Gafford. The last three all have wingspans of 7 feet or longer.

Both teams liked to shoot 3s and Arkansas didn’t really prevent that. A combined 47 percent of attempts were from 3, a lot of them open tonight. But they’ve done a pretty good job vs dribble penetration and that led to some forced perimeter shots from Bucknell tonight.

You can tell their length is causing turnovers, whether by getting in passing lanes, steals or just forcing bad passes. Had nearly a 24 percent turnover rate tonight, which is huge against a veteran team. The press worked some and led to some open 3s. Give and take you have to live with.

Trey has been a beast the first two games. Daniel will have to learn to avoid the ticky tack fouls. He’s gotten hit with some tough calls, too. So active. Was better against ball screens tonight.

Darious and Gabe aren’t shy at all. Darious has no left hand right now. That last dunk was nasty. Gabe has been really good as a help defender. Those two will be big pieces down the line.

Jonathan Holmes went all-out to get the ball to set up his last shot, so I was happy it went in. Crowd went nuts and his teammates mobbed him.

This is a confident team, for good reason. Strongly suggest watching Jaylen and Daryl’s postgame interview.

They looked about as good as anyone could’ve hoped this weekend.

What has been so impressive to me is how aggressive they are on both ends. Almost constantly attacking. Their motion has been with purpose with hard cuts to the hole, they are sharing the rock, and the bigs are actually setting screens (not those half-hearted things they have called a screen the last few years). It’s only the first two games but they look like a vintage Nolan team and that is a big compliment. I don’t know if they can sustain it against better competition or away from home but after two games they have some real swagger.

Jimmy,

Sorry, I’m not trying to change the subject on a great post, but I noticed you kept saying 4 freshmen, heard it in the press conference as well. Are you meaning the 3 freshmen (Hall, Gabe, and Gafford) and CJ Jones, who is a sophomore?

I was a little skeptical after the lackluster performances against DII schools in the exhibition games, but after attending tonight’s game to see in person for the first time I have changed my outlook. This is one athletic team and the guard combination of Barford and Macon is dynamite. Usually there’s a player or two that struggles, but top to bottom this team is Anderson’s best group. Of the three freshman playing I thought Gabe Osabuohien may have been the most solid all around.

You’re right, thanks for the catch. Been a little under-the-weather today haha.

Impressed with the defense for the most part. The guard play is excellent. Gafford is very smooth & talented. We need to work on our perimeter defense but we looked active in zone

No problem. I keep thinking of Bailey and Jones as freshmen myself.

Gabe is going to make it tough on Coach Anderson having to take him out of the lineup when Cook and Thomas come back. Gabe’s done everything correctly, and his been great on defense. 3 charges in 2 games, not many people do that. Honestly, I’m going to be a little sad to see Gabe out of the lineup as well, his upside is higher than the other 2 guys and he’s more athletic. However, when we’re talking about winning now, Thomas and Cook’s experience probably gives us the best chance to go further in the tournament once we make it there.

Agreed.

A couple of addendums:

Jones didn’t explode for huge numbers this weekend, but I was impressed by his overall game. Reportedly defense and ballhandling kept him off the court last season. I didn’t see any major chinks in his armor. He didn’t have a TO all weekend, and he showed that he is much more than just a spot-up shooter. He scored at all four levels this weekend - trey, mid-range, finish at the rim, and finish above the rim. Not many teams will bring a talent like that off the bench.

From what I could tell he was solid on D as well. The first unit was lackadaisical on D to start the second half with the big lead. Bucknell scored 20 of their 39 points in the second half in the first 6 minutes and change. CMA brought in Hall, Gafford, Jones, and maybe Gabe as well. Their length in the man defense was apparent immediately. It was definitely release the Kraken. Arms and legs everywhere. They re-established order on D. Bucknell only scored 4 points in the next 5 minutes.

Barford and Macon were fantastic squared. My one quibble is that, when the refs are calling it that close and we are in the bonus, both of them need to seek contact and get to the line. Nonetheless, with some nice support from Beard they looked like what they are supposed to be, one of the best backcourts in the nation.

Lots of pleasant surprises this weekend. Gafford and Bailey showed some nice touch around the basket. Gabe looks ready to provide quality minutes. Trey showed a lot of savvy and technique staying in front of smaller players. They’re lightyears ahead of what I was expecting at both ends with several rotation players being assistant coaches.

Duly impressed with both games. Hope they don’t peak early. Still have some parts to fit into the puzzle when forwards return. Thought they played better defense against the three ball in first game than second. A team with 2 good guards can be a problem for most people teams. We have that plus some. Wish garland would get healthy. Above expectations do far for me and the way football fiasco is going it’s nice to have some hope.

The defensive energy wasn’t as good on Sunday as on Friday. Some fatigue may have been involved with a shortened bench and the quick turnaround. Still, we held a quality offensive club to 0.94 points per possession. Any time that you hold a good offensive team to under 1 ppp you take it and expect to win. Our FG percentage defense slipped a lot, but we gave them almost zip on second chances and still forced a good bucket full of TOs. It should also be noted that Bucknell scored 20 points in the first 6 minutes of the second half. They only scored 53 in the other 34 minutes. If we had come out of the gate with more energy on D in the second stanza, the game would have been a repeat of the Samford thrashing with an early 40-point lead. The flip side was that Bucknell didn’t make up any ground. Our O was even better than in the Samford game.

So, “far exceeded expectations”. Which of the things that are cited above best describes the “far exceeded”. I’d have to say I agree they’ve just really looked good. It’s a very strange eye test this early in the season for our Hogs. I’ve only seen this phenomenon a couple times in my six decades.

One of my favorite Hog BB teams was the 1992-1993 team. Loaded with new players after May-Day departure, I didn’t have high expectations. They just kept winning (including knocking off Arizona at Arizona if I remember correctly). Lost to a nobody (I think in Little Rock?) but they were a fun group to watch. Ended up in the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual National Champ North Carolina. It was a fun year that way exceeded my expectations. Of course the next 2 years were GREAT years!

I think some of the difference between Friday and Sunday defensively is that Bucknell is just more talented than Samford. Which is not to say that our D was bad either night, we were just guarding better players.

Yeah, Lunardi had Bucknell solidly in the tourney. No mention of Samford. I am not 100% sure how good we are and how good (or bad) they are. Teams change year to year, but I am really hoping we just smashed a tourney team. It’s fun to think so.

Bucknell did not look like an NCAA tournament team, but we did. This looks to be the best Mike Anderson team if Daniel Gafford matures and becomes a force before year end. He is a very good athlete who has a lot of maturing to do on his shot and his post moves, but by season’s end could be the difference for us making some noise in the tournament, I think.

I am concerned about not having a big, powerful 4 to help Gafford and Thompson rebound because when you get to the dance North Carolina, Duke and the better teams are going to be strong and physical. We are lacking in that area. Otherwise, we look ready to go.

Yes, teams change year to year, but this Bucknell team returned its 9 leading scorers from last year’s NCAAT team. I am not sure that is the case with any Division One team.