Georgia is a weird team. Their exhibition game he didn’t start and had no stats except 1 reb. Then he starts their first game. Good for him. I liked Frank and wished he had stayed even tho Hima might be a better fit for what we need.
Sorry this is late. It is going to be short too. Got a lot going on.
I admit it. Was concerned after the two exhibition games. I still am. But after watching the Lehigh game, I feel a lot better about this team.
I thought I read Lehigh was picked to finish second in the Patriot. That seems unlikely. They aren't that good. A good Patriot team should give us a really good fight. That didn't.
But they clearly have talent and are well coached. And they have some good outside shooters.
I imagine those shooters had this game circled in red all summer. I am pretty sure they were ready to throw up a ton of 3s and destroy our 2-3. Pretty sure they practiced to beat it for the last couple of weeks.
And then a funny thing happened. We didn't play it.
They looked confused and uncomfortable. When they got 3s, they were contested.
At the end of the half, I believe SU was up 44-26 and Lehigh was 1-10 from the 3 point circle.
If JB needed a game to get him to believe that man is going to work this year, this was that game. Lehigh was a mess on offense and most astonishing of all, we were not in foul trouble. Not even Jesse, who always is in foul trouble. We finished the game with 10 personal fouls. That is really encouraging given how little we have played man.
That is my biggest takeaway from the game. We might actually be a decent man team defensively.
Was happy seeing Judah acting a lot more like a PG than in the exhibitions. He still took a lot of shots and only had 3 assists but I thought he ran the offense a lot better this game. Actually executed some pick and rolls to Jesse. Had a couple careless turnovers but he was generally good with the ball.
I think we all know this team is going to be at least somewhat offensively challenged and given Judah is going to be one of the best guys on the team getting a good shot on his own, he is going to be asked to score and going to be needed to score. But he still needs to look for others and make good passes when players are open. I think it should be noted that he is already a good defensive player, perhaps our best man defender even as a true frosh. We haven't had a defensive player that dares to get in his man's grill extended from the basket like Judah does in a long time. That can be a weapon, especially against inexperienced point guards.
He played last night very much like I want him to play this year.
It looked like JB told the team to focus the offense on getting it to Jesse in scoring position and for perhaps the first time in his college career, we really did feature Jesse most of the first half. And Jesse did a really nice job of getting open. He worked the pick and roll he is so comfortable with (looking better at it with each passing game) but he also moved well without the ball and even posted his smaller man down low several times. He also hit the boards hard, which he does some games and doesn't do some other games. And he stayed out of foul trouble. It was really nice to see him playing like a leader and a senior and I hope we see more of this approach the rest of the season.
JGIII played like the savvy veteran he is. He is making noticeably more drives into the paint this season so far and I suspect it is by design. Kind of taking that role from Buddy to some extent. So far so good. But it is going to be a lot harder to draw fouls and not get blocked when we start playing the big boys. But I thought he played smart, good shot selection, passed it well and handled it well. His man defense was actually quite good IMHO.
Chris Bell still seems unsure of what to do, like he is feeling out his role. He really isn't getting into the offense much. A lot of standing around the perimeter waiting for someone to pass it to him. Doesn't seem to be comfortable under the basket contending for rebounds much. Had a nice steal. Looks quite good defensively. No doubt he is a fine athlete but I think he needs to be a lot more aggressive if he is going to be a big part of this team.
Benny Williams seemed a bit out of control. Threw up some bad shots. One 3 in particular that he air balled was disturbing and caught JB's attention. Seems too tight out there. He isn't afraid to shoot at all but maybe he should be. Got a couple of rebounds but was not a force out there last night. His defense was good. No concerns there. He is another guy who doesn't seem comfortable right now.
Thought Symir was really solid. Maybe the best athlete out there, was all over the court playinf defense, getting boards, making nice passes. Impressed with his shooting early this season. He is even making his FTs. Always feel like he deserved more playing time. But I know it is tough to find minutes with all the guards on the roster.
I like Maliq Brown more even time I see him play. He knows how to play. He seems to be in the right spot consistently. Looks like one of our best defenders to me already. When he gets the ball in scoring position, he doesn't panic; he stays smooth and finds a way to get the ball in the basket. He does a lot of things well.
If Chris Bell is on one end of the aggression bell curve, Quadir is one the other end. When he gets the ball, he is almost always going to try and make a play. It might be good and it might be bad. But something is going to happen. You can bank on it. Yes he is a gifted passer and yes, he telegraphed some passes and I think opposing teams already know to overplay the pass. I think he is underrated with his athletic ability. Don't think he has really played point yet, would like to see what happens when he plays there. Reminds me of Z quite a bit. High ceiling but he already shoots better than Z did, at least early in his career. My big issue with Quadir is that I think he is a horrendous man defender (and not much better playing zone). My guess is that he has ADD and struggles to focus for the 10-20 seconds needed to play good defense. He can finish and he can hit a mid range jumper and he can pass it really well. JB needs to find a way to get him to defend better. That looks like it is going to be a real challenge.
Justin Taylor rebounded it well. Defended well. Looked smooth. You can see he also knows how to play and how to position himself. Right now, he is playing tight and missing a lot of shots. That is the thing he needs to overcome. Some guys need a year. Some need a couple of games. Let's see how he handles things from here forward. If he can knock down his shots, he has a chance to play more at forward than anyone else.
Mounir Hima looks like a solid player to me. I think he is a step up from Frankie and am pretty excited to see how he does against top flight competition. He is a legit shot blocker. Maybe a better shot blocker than Jesse. And I think he is going to be okay on offense. If he gets it in scoring position, I think he will make some shots. Needs to be tough and rebound and keep the big strong guys out of the paint. It remains to be seen if he can do this. But I like what I see from him so far.
Pete and John looked okay but I don't think this is their year. If Pete gets up to 225 or so, he is going to be a problem. If he can't put on weight, that is going to be a problem.
Encouraging first game. I think we played some zone in the second half and Lehigh played better against it. We might have played some zone in the first half too but I didn't notice it. I think we pressed some as well without much success. We look bad pressing so far this year, which is kind of surprising given the length and athletic ability many on the team have. But we are really inexperienced too and that does not help matters.
Always enjoy these posts and I'm with you on most of this. I'm not super concerned about Carey's weight, necessarily, but agree on the following:
Lehigh had to be caught off-guard by the man because if that's what they look like they won't be top 3 patriot league (i saw them voted third). I actually thought we also benefitted from playing two well-coached, fairly athletic teams in the preseason. I know people hate when someone tries to make IUP or Southern NH sound like they are on Duke's level, but I actually thought they moved the ball much better and gave us far more problems than Lehigh did. The good part of that is that we got an easy win, the bad part is I'm not sure it told us a ton about how good we can actually be.
Agree on Edwards but I'm still hoping we see more offensive moves from him at some point. He's made an absolute killing off catch-and-finish plays in his career but I'm hoping he can create his own down low. Sometimes that doesn't look great -- certainly not like Rak as a senior, for example.
Agree on Mintz. Think he'll be frustrating at times but he's talented and we desperately need his ability to put the ball in the basket. Same with Joe. He's played really pretty efficient basketball thus far.
Benny. What can you say. Rooting for the kid but outside of his ability to move his feet really well for a big man defensively, I struggle to point to a thing he does particularly well. Even defending jumpers and weak-side blocks, which should be in his wheelhouse, he's not really a factor. Was late on three separate occasions to shooters on the wing for threes and two other times had his hands at his sides and Lehigh players knocked down a couple jumpers when he was just standing there. I just don't know.
Symir was excellent, as you point out. If he's really going to take and make some jumpers, he's our third-best player, maybe even second best when you consider everything he does. I don't know how we'd survive defensively with a Joe/Symir/Judah group on the floor together but at this point, those are clearly three of our four best players.
Impressed with Brown, like everyone else, but waiting a bit to see him against top-end competition. My fear with Brown/Bell/QC/Taylor is that they are all solid recruits but that none are really actually ready to play this year vs. ACC opponents. That would be bad.
Overall, agree it was an encouraging first game but we desperately need to find a way to get Benny involved in a real way where he's actually helping us. Feel like if he just dug down and tried to crush it on the glass, it might get him some put-backs and FTs and then give him a bit more energy defensively. I hope ...