Part of the allure in Banners on the Parkway joining SB Nation was that Joel and I could continue to work together. As anyone with a brother can tell you, there is a connection there that cannot be faked. Frequently, this leads to collaboration and chemistry on the stories we hope that you want to read. Sometimes, though, it just turns into an argument. One game into the season and there is already plenty to talk about during those brief moments at work when a surreptitious Facebook message is possible.
Brad: Ok, so that was a thrashing on a grander scale than any of us had the right to expect. Did we learn anything from it though? I was most encouraged by Dee Davis' body looking way more solid and his willingness to drive, something he didn't do last year. I really wanted to see Semaj.
Joel: So we've beaten a D2 team and a shorthanded FDU. I loved not just Dee's performance, but his willingness to take charge. He's not just handing the team over to Semaj, which is great. And I don't want to belabor an obvious point, but we don't have any ball-stoppers on this team. The offensive interplay was head and shoulders above what we saw last year.
Brad: Offensive interplay is all well and good, but we need a killer somewhere. If this was Dee's first step toward that, that's awesome. Assuming MRSA doesn't cost Semaj an arm, we head into Butler with as full a roster as we are likely to have. Did this game impact your outlook on that one? I'd say no. This was a team we should beat, further depleted by suspension. Still, we ran riot when we should have, and that's always important.
Joel: Keep in mind that we were missing Philmore, too, and still murdered them on the glass. Of course, we'll be missing him Tuesday, too. What I get out of this game is that we don't have any more questions than we thought we had. Do we need a killer? We've got a bullpen by committee rather than just one closer; I'm okay with that. Last year, you knew Tu wasn't giving the ball up. That works until something like the Charlotte game two years ago happens. Coach Mack talked up the progress Rob has made this preseason, and Martin looked good. Do they take a step up, or are these just flashes?
Joel: I'll answer my own question, since you're apparently busy: I think Robinson and Martin will be exponentially better this season. They both have apparently passive personalities, and they were only too happy to defer rather than risk the wrath of Tu and Cheeks. In the Dee Davis-fueled era of good feelings, knowing one gaffe won't get them glared at may be what both of those guys needed.
Brad: I will never think that Robinson is anything but a fluke. He's done this before, he'll do it again. He'll also be atrocious 60% of the time. No, he is what he is. I do think Martin can step into an offense where he doesn't have to be the man and contribute. I think we do need a killer. You cite the Charlotte game two years ago, and that was bad, but Tu won way more than he lost by just owning the last two minutes of a game. Someone has to want to take that last shot. Davis bringing the ball down looking for the open option could leave us with Jeff Robinson holding it as time ticks down. This bring us full circle, because Jeff Robinson will always be awful.
Joel: It's okay to have a guy or guys who want to take the last shot, but having a guy who needs to makes the team one-dimensional in crunch time. That's fine if you've got a guy who was saving a spin-back three ball for a time he might need it, but I don't see that on this team. I'm fine with Dee, Red, Semaj, or whoever else being ready to take it if it's there and ready to trust his teammates if it isn't. Anywho, I'm still having to remind myself that it was just Fairleigh Dickinson. The real season starts Tuesday at 4. I know, because I requested leave to get off of work early so I could watch it. Assuming Semaj is healthy, who are you starting?
Brad: Who is whoever else? Let's be realistic here: Dee Davis has played one good offensive game in his career (which is admittedly brief), Redford is one dimensional, and that makes end game tough on him, Semaj hasn't played a game yet. I know the ball stopped with Tu and Cheeks sometimes and I know that they were occasionally abrasive, I don't care. Against Dayton in the A10 tournament we absolutely had to win, and Lyons made sure we did. Against Notre Dame in the NCAAs, it was Tu. We need a dog, there's a reason bullpen by committee doesn't work. Someone has to be the stud.
Joel: But a bullpen can only send one guy out there at a time (admittedly, it's my own analogy I'm invalidating here), while a basketball team with good chemistry can be more than the sum of its parts. You were there when we won that game in the 3-on-3 tournament 6-2. That wasn't because we had a stud. More to the point, Tu Holloway isn't walking through that door. With what we have, would you rather see someone try to be the stud, or we have a team approach on the last possession? Depending on what we need, we have Dee and Semaj ready to drive and finish or kick, Red and JMart ready to catch and shoot, Farr and Philmore capable of stretching the floor from the forward, Takeoff Trav and Philmore getting big inside, and JRob poised on the bench, ready to jump up waving a towel over his head. Needing three, are we that hurt with Dee/Semaj/Red/Martin/Farr out there? Needing just a score, how about Dee/Semaj/Martin/Philmore/Taylor? Those are a couple of crunch time lineups that make you guard everyone. I'm not saying we're John Wooden's '63-'64 Bruins, but that's not exactly hopeless at the end of the game, even without a designated closer.
Brad: 6-2, that was a game. Those guys were nonplussed. Those fives are nice, but someone has to want the ball to win it. You and I both know some guys just can't do it. I cede the point though, the Killer has left the building and we have who we have (fluid as that group is). Now we have Butler at 4p. First off, what is with that start time? It's more suited to a Jr high girls game.
Joel: Dee and Red can, Martin maybe, JRob definitely can't, which is why he's not out there in either of my imaginary crunch times. Tu was hecka clutch, but that doesn't mean a handful of guys who are rather clutch is bad. The start time is because it's part of that ESPN 24 hours of hoops thing. You knew that. It's the regular season now, you need to lock it up. Who do you start on Tuesday?
Brad: You lock it up. Run St. Francis v. Monmouth then or something. I start my same five again. No real reason to change it. If Semaj is healthy you just ease him back in. Now we see what Stenger is worth.
Joel: Same here. Question: can Redford guard a stump? If so, he's viable. If not, he's ten minutes a game. I think his offense is game ready, though.
Brad: I think we find out a lot on Tuesday. IF Redford can guard, IF Dee can run an offense, IF Taylor can produce, maybe we have something here.
Joel: I think you're absolutely right. If we show up and answer some questions against a Butler squad that everyone is already pencilling into the tournament, maybe we have the hints of the most unlikely of contenders. What a story that would be.