Thoughts After Black Hills State

The Cyclones won 96-47, but the final score of these exhibitions really don't matter all that much, as it doesn't count against your record. To me what matters is how our guys look. You won't always know how good they will be, but you can certainly tell if they might struggle; if they're struggling against a NAIA team, who's to think you won't struggle against D1, and better yet Big 12 talent?

Quick example: Clinton Mann last year. People thought he'd step in, get in the rotation, and help the front lines with defense and rebounding. It was in our exhibition last year against Nebraska-Omaha, that I saw Mann getting boxed out by guys smaller than him. Nothing against the guy. From all accounts he's a bright guy, and he's going to get a great education at Davidson; it was just pretty clear that he had a ways to go developmentally.

You see, if you go on the message boards, you will find that a lot of guys hype up players. They're excited about the program, or are friends with some of the players, and the hype seeds are planted. The casual fans assume the guys posting have some special insight, take it to another level, and the hype machine builds. I've been there and gotten burned by it, which is why I like to go to the exhibitions: I'll see almost everybody play in a game situation, and I can make my own inferences about the players in the program.

On the next page, I'll go through how I thought each of the players did:

The Starting Five:

Here's the rundown how each of the guys that started did:

G: Diante Garrett - He played his typical game. There were some bad passes at times, but it's more due to sloppy play and trying to gel together more than anything else. His most memorable play is when he was on a fast break, he tried to dunk it and missed. McDermott had a chat with him after that. He knocked down some shots too, which was nice to see.

G: Lucca Staiger - The word was that over the summer Lucca got stronger and leaner. To be honest, he looked the same to me... Maybe his uniform is just too big? Anyhow, he knocked down some 3s, which is what he needs to do for this team. He still is limited off the dribble, as it's a turnover or near turnover everytime he does so. He was a step or two behind defensivley as well; as the guards could break him down and also dribble by him... LIke I said before, his job is to knock down the jumpers. As long as he can shoot at a good percentage and be a little more consistent than last year, I think people can live with the defensive limitations and lack of ability to create off the dribble.

F: Marquis Gilstrap - You can tell he's a scorer and that he has a ton of confidence. You can see that in the way he carries himself. He shot the ball well, and moved the ball well also. His defensive game is the area that needs the most work, but like Lucca, if he can put the ball in the hoop consistently (which by all accounts he should be able to do), there shouldn't be a problem.

F: Craig Brackins - Not a lot to say. His usual self, and I think he'll have another big year.

C: Justin Hamilton - He's just not all the way there yet. He works hard, has improved a lot, but I feel like he started last year mostly by default. I felt like when he was out of the game, the team did better defensivley and offensivley. He had an up and down scrimmage. He plays hard, tries hard, but he's getting boxed out and pushed around at times against a NAIA post player. Don't get me wrong. This guy is only a Sophomore, having only played basketball for a handful of years. He'll improve a ton this season, and will eventually develop into a player if he works hard. I just am not sure if he's ready to clock serious minutes yet. He may be in for a 10-15 minutes/game type of season, but we will see

The Reserves:

In order of guys that saw the most action.

F: LaRon Dendy - Build similar to Brackins but a little more explosive. For the most part was playing low, but took a couple of outside shots. He also showed the ability to drive off the dribble which was nice. Caught an Alley-Oop as well for a score. He was in with the first unit a lot, replacing Hamilton. The team was able to move up and down the court, and looked more smooth offensivley and defensivley. Maybe it was just luck, but there's something to be said about having athleticism on the court.

G/F: Charles Boozer - Believe it or not, I think he was the 2nd guy off the bench tonight. He didn't shoot the ball well, but he does all of the other types of things. He hustles for rebounds, does a decent job staying with his guy on defense. I like the way he plays; just wish he could shoot a little better so that he could get more playing time. Other than wearing #4 instead of #0, he didn't look much different from last year.

G: Dominique Buckley - He looks a lot more comfortable than he did last year. He was directing guys offensivley and defensivley, and just looked more like a point guard. He had a lot more confidence in determining if he was going to pass or shoot. They say the hardest position to learn in McDermott's system is the point, and Buckley is showing what a year of mostly soaking it up can do for you. Don't forget that this guy was a solid recruit, and he'll do a lot better this year.

G: Scott Christopherson - He played most of the time in Lucca's spot. He's a lot quicker than him. Has a good shot, as I think he was 3 of 4 shooting. He injured himself in the leg or groin, but re-entered the game pretty quickly. I've heard he's a good shooter. He didn't play a ton or stand out too much for me to get a whole read on him. I think he would've played more had he not injured himself. Honestly, I think he's a starter and Lucca is a reserve. I feel like Lucca has the 3 point shot, which is needed, but that's really all he can do. Christopherson is quicker, plays better defense, handles the ball better, and can drive. I think he's the better player at the 2.

G: Chris Colvin - He did better than I had expected. He spent most of the time running the point, when DG was on the court. Has quick hands. He got a steal and went on a nice fastbreak for a layup. I was impressed that he ran the point as much as he did, considering he's a natural scorer and it's a tough position. He's definitley atheltic and confident in his abilities. Looking forward to how he does on Friday, where I can hopefully post more.

F: Alex Dorr - The walk-on from Norwalk played more than I thought he might. You can tell he's a fundamentally sound player, plays good d, and has some energy. Not sure how much he will play when the season starts, but it's games like this where you get to see a little bit from guys you normally wouldn't.

G: Bubu Palo -  He got some nice cheers from the crowd when he came in, and when he scored. He might redshirt, he might not. If he doesn't, like Dorr, we may not really see much from him.

Vanderbeken, Pomlee, and Oliver did not play. Vanderbeken and Pomlee were not injured, and I know that Vanderbeken was wearing street clothes for sure. Oliver was out due to illness I believe, so hopefully we can see him play a little on Friday before he likely redshirts.

Final Thoughts:

  • We're more athletic than last year. Almost every position is upgraded, and some of our second team players aren't too much of a step down from the first team. I saw a lot more guys trying to drive, and crash the offensive boards than we did the previous year - even against Nebraska-Omaha.
  • If this team is going dancing, they will need to score points. The will have to abandon some defensive skill, but this team has much more offensive upside. I am tired of seeing this team struggle to score 60, and I don't think we will have that problem this year
  • Don't get too amped up on the results from this game. You have to remember that we played a NAIA team. These types of games can make a lot of players look like all-stars. There's a big dropoff from the 300+ NCAA Division I teams and the NAIA teams. We still have some challenging games, we played sloppy at times, and we're still a borderline tourney team. Don't adjust your expectations based on these results. If we play well against a team like Cal, then we can talk.

I'll be at the exhibition on Friday as well, and post my thoughts similar to above for this also. It was fun to be in Hilton again, and looking forward to the upcoming season!

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