Sorry to be so late getting back, but I had to wait until I thought the football game was out of reach. Kudos to Coach Shula and the kids for a well planned and played game. Now to Jax State.
All the returning starters played up to my expectations and then some. Davidson has continued to improve ever since his arrival. Hendrix has lost his baby fat and will continue to improve under Coach Asbury's tutelage. One real high point of the game, with a 30 point lead in the first half both Hendrix and Davidson were on the floor chasing an errant rebound. The effort was evident from the beginning.
Steele was Steele. I believe he sat on the bench for about 3 consecutive minutes in the first half. I don't think that's happened since Jonus left. Great moves on both counts! (vbg)
Gee picked up where he left off last year except that he was on fire from outside the arc in the first few minutes of the game. He did continue his bad habit of picking up silly fouls, even in a loosely called game. Davidson, on the other hand did not. He was all focus all the time.
Finally Hollinger! What can I say about My Man Hollinger? Next to Steele I think Hollinger might be the most important component on this team. His effort, desire, heart, determination and consistency might well be what is pushing all the other perimeter players to perform consistently at a high level. If you are't playing all out on both ends of the court, we can put Hollinger in your place and not worry about a thing. I think the official stats confirm my counts that he had THREE REBOUNDS, a BLOCK and a steal. He also had several "saves" where he averted his teammates' sure turnovers by making heads up plays. Oh yeah, he was 1 for 1 from the field for three points, even though the Marks Madness kids begged him to shoot several times. His eagle eye pulled in defenders and that helped lead to his seven assists.
The most immeiately noticed new arrival was Riley, whom I suspect will be the first off the bench all year. (Yes, Hollinger stays in the starting lineup because he will not surrender it to anyone!) If Riley hits his first shot, he likely will hit 80-90% from the field. He also had some nice moves near the basket for a thin man and had a couple of very nice dishes, but I don't think either of those shots went in. His defense was sound and likely will improve with time.
I think Torrence was the next man off the bench. He only tried one three, using his low-launching shot. It was a dud, but almost everything else he did was pretty. I noticed in high school that Torrence lowers his shoulder, Michael Ansley style, when he wants to drive to the basket. Unlike Ansely, Torrence can drive, shoot and dish with either hand. He is relunctant to give up the ball on his drive (probably because he has confidence he can float it in with either hand - which he did last night), but he made several crisp passes using either hand last night. He is a keeper. He got lost a few times on defense. I expected that, but I'm not sure it was for lack of effort. I suspect he is being groomed to take Ron's place next year.
I think Jemison is the next most important new arrival because his body will allow him to help with banging near the basket and his shot looked sound. This was a very pleasant surprise for me.
Coleman looked more than passable in his backup role. I think he needs a lot of playing time so he can grow into JD's replacement last year. He has filled out and looked strong, but he does not look smooth like Davis and Davidson did their second years. Then again, Coleman is in his first playing year. I believe he will improve under coach Asbury's watchful eye as our other big men have. He will be good.
Tubbs looked good when he was in. The students were right about Cloyd. He has the tools but is not up to the same level of play as the other true freshmen. He is not our immediate answer, but he looks like he could be a real contributor.
This is a team that needs some work and they were not playing against a good team last night, but I was very pleased. Last night's team looked much better than the one I saw play against Spring Hill College last year or against ASU the year before that.
In short, nothing I saw last night has done anything to diminish my unbridled optimism about this year's team. I am even more excited now than I was before I saw them. What a wonderful difference that is!