As we did last year, we agreed on 5 questions and got busy dropping knowledge....
1. Who wins a 50 yard dash...Marek Soucek or Desmond Roland?
BRENDON: What a question. Soucek definitely has the advantage of having a long stride, but Des is used to sprints. I'm not sure if Marek has ever run 50 yards straight without stopping, so I'm definitely not sure how good he would be at this event. Despite that, my gut is telling me to go with the Czech, simply because Jimmie Tramel got a picture of him as Captain America awhile back. If he's dressing up as one of the best superheroes around, there might be some inner-powers to channel to win a measly sprint.
KYLE: I feel like if given enough runway Soucek could take, like, 22-foot strides. They might look like they're in slo-motion but 22 feet is 22 feet. Still, I'll take Roland, he has built-in training of running it 30+ times in Big 12 times and I'm not totally sure the Big Czech could go 40 yards without needing an oxygen mask. This would be like the opposite of the Justin Gilbert Jakeem Grant race I was calling for last Saturday.
ROBERT: I may have shorted Soucek with this question. Roland definitely wins the 50 yard dash, as it will take Soucek that long to get up to full speed. But if it's 100 yards, I think Soucek's long stride chews up large chunks of yards and he catches Roland near the finish...or Roland finishes before Soucek gets to the 50. Safe to say this would be the polar opposite of Gilbert vs Samples.
2. Does Le'Bryan Nash need to worry about his position as a starterf?
KYLE: No, he doesn't. Who's going to start over him? Kamari? Please. Plus the thought of Nash bringing energy off the bench as a sixth man doesn't exactly thrill me to death. What Nash needs to worry about is not being out there in crunch time because he (at times) has the demeanor of a fat kid on a Saturday morning at the farmer's market. He'll start because Ford doesn't have time to deal with the fallout otherwise, I just wonder how much he'll finish.
ROBERT: Nash needs to be more consistent. His starting position may not be in jeopardy, but his playing time might be. OSU has some young guys who play hungry all the time. Nash needs to find what he had in the OT against OU a little more often, or his minutes might start to dwindle, especially if he continues to look lost sometimes on defense.
BRENDON: I don't think so. By all accounts, Nash worked his tail off this summer and has made huge strides in his game. When he gets the ball in his hands and faces up to the basket, he makes the entire defense sag towards the lane, opening up opportunities for the three-point threat, or other lanes to open off his pass. Even if he doesn't do it all the time, the threat of him on the floor most definitely outweighs the threat a Kamari Murphy or Leyton Hammonds presents, at least on offense.
3. Brian Williams will end up as the _____ best player on this team.
ROBERT: I have a hard time going past #2. None of this happens without Smart, who's obviously #1, and Markel Brown at #2. I think #3 is a group...Cobbins, Williams, Forte...who all bring tremendous energy and effort to every second they are on the floor. The next two players are critical in that some offensive production will be needed from one of them...Nash and Clark. So I guess I would put Brian Williams in as a tie for 3rd.
BRENDON: I think he'll be the third-best. I've been a big B-Will fan for awhile now because I'm a fan of all-around players. Give me a guy like LeBron James, who can shut down the best player on the other team and give me some offensive output on the other end, and I take him every day over the Carmelo Anthony that might win a scoring title but is worthless on defense. Williams has a chip on his shoulder after last season, and he's probably the best on-ball defender in the conference. That's invaluable, and I think he's an All-Big 12 selection ahead of Nash and Forte at the end of the year if the voters know what they're doing.
KYLE: I think Brian Williams will be the third best player on this team. He averaged almost 10 a game his freshman year and you couple that proficiency with his defensive ability, I think it could go Marcus, Markel, and then him. My biggest question with him is how much they'll need/use him on offense. Will all of his points come off putbacks? Will he be hid on the offensive end to save his energy for the defensive side? His development is probably the thing I'm fascinated by most going into this season.
4. (in honor of Robert Allen) Stevie Clark. Can we talk about him?
BRENDON: There's so much to talk about that this could be an individual post. In practice, he was the fastest guy in the gym with or without the ball. In fact, the smart money would be to bet on him to win any race while he's dribbling and his opponent isn't... He's that fast. I think he shows signs of creating his own shot too, instead of being your Keiton-like catch-and-shoot guy that some thought he might be. I'm not sure of his impact this season at all, as he and Forte kind of fall into the same type of player category, but Clark's ball handling gives him the opportunity to make some noise as a freshman. He needs to concentrate on learning from Smart this season above everything else, though, because next year he'll take the reigns.
KYLE: I think I'm already in love with Clark. Maybe it's the Jackson Five throwback look or maybe it's the dirty passes but kid's got game. Ford has said his rotation is set but who's first off the bench? Murph? Clark? Forte? What does Forte do that Clark doesn't do? I think Clark ends the season as the first guard off the bench and his addition will help preserve Marcus' sophomore season. The prefect fit for Clark's freshman year -- kind of like what JamesOn did in 2005.
ROBERT: Clearly the most important addition to the team. Fastest guy on the floor, can already create and penetrate, and can shoot. I'll speak more the this in the next question.
5. Who does this team need the most from this season (excluding the "Big 3")?
KYLE: I really think it's Cobbins. You know what you're getting from Marcus/Markel/Nash and I think we're going to get a great year from Williams. But what about Cobbins? Can he stay out of foul trouble and be OSU's rim protector? If he can, OSU's offense can spin on his axis (did you see the block to Markel that got turned into a dunk by Marcus in the second play of the Emporia State highlights?) That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Plus, if his offensive game is for real (I'm talking 10-12 points a game) OSU goes from Big 12 favorite to one of the five best teams in the country.
ROBERT: For me, Clark is the obvious answer. He is going to spell Smart more, and they already look pretty tough when on the floor together with Clark handling the point. However, Clark can't play in the middle, and OSU will need Murphy and hopefully Gaskins to step up and relieve Cobbins. With this athletic bunch, Soucek is a total buzz kill and I doubt he will contribute many minutes short of foul trouble. I honestly think Mason Cox would be a better option. It will be very important for the Cowboys to get productive minutes from Carroll and Hammonds. If that happens, the Cowboys would be 11 deep, which would allow Ford to play the half to 3/4 pressure and push the tempo most of the game, and THAT would be huge for the season.
BRENDON: I've said it since last season ended, and I still believe it. So much rides on Kamari Murphy and the rest of the reserve men. Michael Cobbins is capable of playing the 5, and B-Will will play the 4, but those guys can't run the entire game. Depth means so much in basketball, and having Murphy play well off the bench in a heavy role could be the difference one or two losses in conference play, or three or four. Murphy got his feet (very) wet last season, and this team needs him around if they want to beat the Jayhawks to the conference trophy.
That's all she wrote. The next 5 weeks has the potential to be truly epic or really sucky. Let's pray for epic.