Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sleeping with the Enemy, Kennesaw State Owls.

Welcome to the first edition of what we hope will be a regular feature going forward on the blog.  We thought it would be a good idea to get our opposing fans' perspective on  upcoming games.  So, I reached out to King Owl at The Owl Howl and asked him to tell us about his team and his thoughts on the game.  If you visit the Owl Howl, please follow their rules and be a good representative of the University of Alabama.

Please note, this will not replace the game previews that Bobbyjack has posted in the post. Bobbyjack always did a great job of giving us all the stats and keys to the game.   I believe MSmilie is going to be taking over that role this year, and we all know he is basically a walking college basketball encyclopedia.  However, fans usually know their own teams a little better than anybody else, plus its always interesting to get an idea of how others view our team and program.

Without further ado, King Owl was kind enough to take the time to send us his thoughts below:

Kennesaw State's basketball program is one that is in a seemingly eternal state of rebuilding after two horrible hires by Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams. Looking for stability, Williams turned to fellow Massachusetts alum and former Boston College head coach Al Skinner to lead the program.

I look at this game against Alabama as one that was scheduled late to help offset the cost of paying three head coaches this season. A game against a smaller school to prepare KSU for upcoming contests against LSU and Arizona State would have been ideal. Our team is led by seniors and team captains Yonel Brown and Nigel Pruitt. Brown is a 5'9" point guard who can finish seemingly impossible shots inside but also hit the open three point shot with ease. Pruitt is a wiry 6'7" forward that can score in bunches. Joining the list of top scorers should be unredshirted Quinnipiac transfer combo guard Kendrick Ray, a long 6'1" athlete who is the brother of former Villanova standout Allan Ray. Sophomore guard Nick Masterson is a sharpshooter from the outside who earned a scholarship as a freshman after entering school as a preferred walk-on. 6'8" forward Bernard Morena is an Auburn transfer who will be playing under his fourth D1 coach.

Because we were one of the last two or three teams to hire a head coach this offseason, they didn't get their pick of the litter in terms of recruits but I think they did a pretty good job. Toledo transfer power forward Aubrey Williams leads the list. Freshman defensive specialist Tracy Hector should also see time as one of the first guards off the bench. Forward Kosta Jankovic and guard Josh Burnett can hit the open three while point guard Kyle Clarke may get spot minutes. I would say that right now the team's biggest strength is its guard play, and I would call our starting backcourt duo one of the top two or three in the 8 team Atlantic Sun Conference. It all depends on how well Ray performs, but I trust that he will be very good at this level. I also think that our outside shooting will be better than it has been in past years, but you never know what will happen with young players, a new coach and a shorter shot clock. Al Skinner has traditionally run a flex offense, with lots of screen the screener action and flex cuts.

Our biggest weakness right now is that we have no defensive presence inside. We really have no answer, and we didn't last year either. Our biggest players are 6'6" 225 and 6'8" 205. My expectations for Kennesaw State are few. I expect a steady improvement from the beginning of the year to the end, good effort all around and some sort of hope for the future to arise. When it comes to Friday's game, I can name one player on the Tide, Avery Johnson Jr. I'm not going to do any research, I'm just going to let the game be a surprise and see what happens! 

I could see the Flex giving our team some trouble defensively, as Coach Johnson obviously prefers to play at a much faster pace.   It should make for an interesting clash of styles between two teams that have similar expectations on the season.

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