The season has finally opened and there is finally a real game to discuss. Gardner-Webb is not the yardstick by which the greats measure themselves, but wins are wins. The freshman have blooded and Matt Stainbrook is back in action after a year spent sharpening his bowtie skills.
Joel: I think we're going to end up liking Brandon Randolph, but I also suspect it will not be a painless growth process. He is incessantly aggressive with the ball, but he was a couple of rolls from an entirely irksome 2-11 debut. Of the freshman debutants, he was the most immediately promising to me, though. I also liked what I saw from Myles Davis [nothing torn, he's day to day]; he was getting stuck in a lot more than you would see from just a shooter. Hopefully his knee isn't serious.
Brad: Do guys get stuck in in basketball games? He was playing well, but surgically repaired knees should scare everyone, all the time. Randolph was awesome, but he's right on the ragged edge all the time. He and Christon are going to be a challenge to watch some days.
Stainbrook and Martin:
Joel: Stainbrook was active and said he felt good being down from three spins. I felt like the bigs did a good job running the floor and the guards did a good job feeding the post in the half court. We're going to need that, because I'm not sure we're going to be a great shooting team, particularly with M Davis dinged up. It's going to be on him and his brother to be able to keep teams honest. Martin was a ghost, then he hit his head. Do you have any confidence in him right now? He sure doesn't seem to.
Brad: Do I have to have confidence in Martin? I don't want to. Other than him we don't have a great deal of shooting (which you mentioned). Dee can shoot a little bit, but he's coming back from concussion. Of course, that could be what is bothering Martin still. We've both had them and both had to try to come back after it, and it's not easy. What did you think of the way Stainbrook handled himself. I was...unsure.
Joel: I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the basis of his having shed a large dog's worth of weight and being fired up for his first game in well over a year. It will be interesting to see what happens on Tuesday, because Stokes and Maymonn are fully-grown lads and Stainbrook is going to have his work cut out. If he can play them tough without losing his composure, that will be a good sign.
rad: I'd like to see Stain hold his own against some serious competition. I think he can. 13/12/1 after a year out is good even against Webb.
Joel: We have some fast, fast guards; can we force the pace against a good team?
Brad: Can I answer this Wednesday? I think we can speed the game up, but that's not the same thing is it? We will go fast, but we have to be effective at that pace for it to matter. If we are flying down the court and missing 12 seconds into the possession, that's not pushing the pace, it's just being bad, faster. We had 73 possessions on Friday. If we do that against Tennessee, it will be because we have completely destroyed them.
Joel: I agree. I thought we moved the ball out of the post pretty well, too. My main concern with this team is going to be consistent long-range shooting. It's hard to ask a freshman to be the go-to guy in that regard, though Myles Davis is not a typical freshman. If he is touch-and-go healthwise for any meaningful amount of time, we don't have a guy who can pull when the other team knows we need three.
Joel: At any rate, we're 1-0. We handled business against Gardner Webb, which is about all you can do against a team like that. I'm not taking much from it beyond the fact that Randolph came to play, Reynolds had some jitters, Martin is Martin, and we still suck at free throws. Only the last two of those have any sort of predictive value. Can we write off the FT to a first-game thing? I know we can't attribute Martin's play to that.
Brad: I'll give us a one game pass on the free throws. Of course, these guys aren't playing ball at this level because they get jitters when there are a lot of people watching. One more awful game like that, after a terrible year last year, and you really have to look at the process.