Friday, November 5, 2010

Impressions From Last Night's Basketball Game

First off, let me say that I came away very impressed with the work that has been done to renovate the Coliseum. They took a very dated exterior/interior and vastly improved the aesthetics of the building. I can't see how the athletic department could have invested $12 million dollars any better. Very good bang for your proverbial buck. I hope Foley gets the same treatment in the near future, it desperately needs it.

As for the product we put on the floor last night, I was also thoroughly impressed. It was a D-2 Augusta State team, but it's easy to tell that the guys have improved greatly. I think Fox was a little perturbed at times with the second-team on the offensive end, but that is understandable with the new faces. Most everyone looked like they had improved, and I'll give you a little rundown of my thoughts on each of them:

  • Dustin Ware: Looks a lot more confident shooting off the dribble. I think he's worked very hard to improve in that area. Still had some trouble protecting the ball and got it knocked away several times coming down the court. In 16 minutes of action he poured in 14 points, shooting 3-4 from three-point land. 
  • Travis Leslie: Just as I thought, Travis played pretty much all of his minutes at the two. He looks like he has greatly improved his ball-handling skills, but still needs to work on his shot from outside. I can remember several very nice shots from 16-18 feet that must become automatic if he spends this much time at the two all season. Looks like a better passer as well and is more complete defensively.
  • Connor Nolte: I was really surprised at the amount of time he played. He does look like a guy without a ton of offensive skill, but he knows how to create for other guys. Four assists on the night and zero turnovers should say something. I think he'll play some good minutes on the defensive end for us and be someone that the opposing team can't forget about. 
  • Jeremy Price: I can't say enough about how far J.P. has come in the time that Fox has been here. He looks like he's in WAY better shape, has vastly improved post moves, and gets in a good position to receive the pass. He had several very nice moves in the post last night, but is still a little shaky outside of 10 feet. He also runs the floor much better this year, probably because he appears to have lost 10-15 pounds.
  • Chris Barnes: Shooting is still not Barnes forte', although he did look marginally better. There were definitely a few he shot that made me scratch my head and were badly missed. Defensively Barnes looked suberb, blocking three shots and altering a few more. Hopefully the offensive game comes around a little more.
  • Gerald Robinson Jr.: As billed. The guy can distribute the ball extremely well, is insanely fast, can shoot the lights out, and is very athletic. I think his impact on this team will be even more monumental than we thought. Everyone else seems to play faster when he's on the court. 
  • Marcus Thornton: Looked a little timid with the ball, almost as if he was playing not to mess up. I think when he gets over the nerves, he'll look a lot more fluid on the court. Certainly has game but didn't show a ton of it last night.
  • Donte Williams: In my opinion, Donte looked much better than Thornton. He plays very physically and gets off the floor in a hurry. He had one spectacular play in which he flew in and threw down a miss off back iron. I was pleasantly surprised. Williams really "let it all hang out" and I'm sure had Thornton done the same, it would be a more even comparison.
  • Vince Williams: A little discouraged here. Vince still looks tentative with the basketball and is no threat at all to shoot. It could have been that he only saw time with the second team and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt there. 
  • Sherrard Brantley: Looks a little further along than his counterparts last year were. He is also bigger than I thought he'd be. Certainly has a VERY quick trigger, as he attempted four threes all in the first half. Apparently Fox had a little talking to him in the locker room about it. I think he'll be a solid backup at the two.
  • Matt Bucklin: Well, Matt is the walk-on here. After about 15 seconds on the court he looked like he had played the entire game. Hopefully Fox can get him some minutes down the line.
As far as how the game went, we look way more confident out there. Fox probably could have put about 25 more points on the board but he gave the young guys A TON of time, which is certainly the best idea. Even without Trey, we are a much deeper team talent-wise across the board. It looks like the first-team has a very good concept of the offense which will allow us to play faster. As I expected, we are very quick and athletic and I saw a lot more easy opportunities in transition than I've seen in a long, long time. 

We've still got some work to do on the defensive side, but I think there was a bit of a lackluster performance at times there because the quality of the opponent. Some guys just gave up easy baskets because of uninspired rotation to the ball. Holding any opponent to under 50 is always a victory. 

Overall, I'm still very optimistic about this team. In order to get some good wins we still need Trey to get back. I don't think we've got the front court depth to withstand Colorado and the Old Spice Classic without him. Getting some wins early between those will be key to making it to the NCAA's. 

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