Tell him Trav, tell him!
So the Cowboy basketballers are taking on the Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies tonight at 7:00 at GIA in an exhibition game, and rather than pretend that I know anything about this opponent or that the matchup matters, I figure we should just talk/type about what we will be watching for in this game. Exhibition games aren't meant to be won or lost anyway, they are intended to serve as team evaluators... and we have a ton of new stuff to evaluate.
If you haven't been keeping up with the basketball team, or missed my first couple of previews (part 1 | part 2) because you have been distracted by the guys in white/gray/black helmets that throw the touchdown passes and are apparently really good at it, there are a lot of new faces on the Cowboy roster, and an assortment of talented and unique players that will make for some interesting lineups. As a result, no one really knows what to expect out of this team this season. That is why tonight's game will be so interesting. Hopefully we can glean some insight into how all these pieces will be used and if they will be able to work together.
Here is what we will be watching for, feel free to add your own in the comments:
Nash Nash Nash
Will he dazzle as he did at Homecoming and Hoops, will he look like the savior we hope he will be, and to back up a few spots, where the hell will he play on the floor? Will he mostly play from the wing? Will he try to find room inside? Will he crash boards? Will he play the point? If his skill set is as developed as it has been said to be, then the answer to all of these should be yes.
What will the starting lineup be?
I generally put more stock into playing time than starting lineups, but for the first exhibition game the starting 5 will be our only indicator of who Coach Ford is leaning towards giving the most time during the season. My guess is that he will go pretty conservative for this one and start off with this lineup:
That is probably the most traditional assorment of guys that fit at the 1-5, although I could certainly see Reger Dowell in there instead of Gulley. My assumption is that Ford will start off with this somewhat standard lineup, then start subbing to get to all the crazy, matchup nightmare ones that we are all excited to see (are we all excited?). Which brings us to...
What 5-man lineups will be most effective?
I have no idea which ones will be the most effective, that will be a wait-and-see, but I can tell you the ones I am most excited to see.
Dowell, Brown, Olukemi, Nash, Cobbins - Fast, Fast, Fast
Dowell, Brown, Nash, Cobbins, Jurick - The POWER lineup. Lots of height and muscle here.
Nash, Page, Brown, Williams, Jurick - Nash at the point, Jurick regulating the paint, and the 3 best outside shooters finding their spots.
Page, Brown, Nash, Soucek, Cobbins - Quick lineup with height and a ton of outside shooting.
Dowell, Brown, Williams, Olukemi, Nash - Just for the hell of it, let's put all the slashers in at the same time.
Tempo Tempo Tempo
If I were to sum up everything Travis Ford said in the offseason in one short sentence, it would be "We are going to play much faster". Time to show that pace off. Last season the Pokes played at a relatively slow tempo, coming in at 216th in the nation in pace of play, so how will this year's team speed things up. Less guys crashing defensive boards? Smaller lineups? Quick 1 or 2 pass plays?
What will we see from the non-Nash new guys?
Will Cezar Guerrero see any action?
What position will Soucek play? He is obviously some kind of Euro hybid 7-footer who can shoot from the outside, has nice passig skills, and can defend down low. I don't know how all that is possible in one player, but I am way too excited about it.
Will Jurick block 10+ shots?
What about the defense?
With a lot of the odd personel that will be on the floor, I have to think that there will be a lot more reliance on a zone than we are used to seeing in GIA. While the Pokes will be a matchup nightmare for any defense, the same holds true on the other end. The easiest way to negate this mismatch, especially when you have a lot of long, athletic, players is to play a lot of zone. I also wouldn't be shocked to also see a lot of that man-trap we ran last season where the PF or C would come up and trap the point.
That is all I have for now since my typing fingers are getting tired. What is everyone else excited to see?