Well, it's a little strange writing a postmortem in August, but once every four years isn't really that bad.
I think we pretty much saw what we would expect to see from a summer basketball game -- some good, some bad, some ugly, and some downright silly. Overall, though, I thought the players that were able to play gave a good effort, tried to play as a team and tried to execute the Dribble Drive Motion about 90% of the time.
This team, at least as constituted tonight, could not possibly be more different than last year's team. There was no Big Cuz dominating the paint, no Patrick Patterson intimidation, no Daniel Orton swats (although Josh Harrellson did block a surprising number of shots). This team has a completely different vibe from the sometimes surly but fun-loving Wildcats of 2009.
No, this team was all business. You saw very little high-fiveing, no 10,000 watt smiles, none of that. What we saw on the court, demeanor-wise, was very serious, very focused (for August), and very ... well, professional, at least in attitude.
- Brandon Knight is really good. He has a lot of Wall-esque characteristics in the way he pushes the ball, but he isn't really a one-man fast break like Wall was. But he shoots the ball much better, and I think he handles it better than Wall, particularly in traffic. Knight got beat too often after trying to swipe the ball.
- We didn't get to see much of Terrence Jones, and I doubt we will see him much in the next two games. But in his short stint, he did a couple of impressive things. He can really handle the ball for a man his size.
- Doron Lamb really impressed me. He isn't like Knight and isn't likely to be one and done, but he has a great feel for the game and really ran the point nicely when he took that spot. He is a pesky defender and caused a lot of trouble for the Lancers with his quick hands and feet.
- Josh Harrellson looked good. Not great, but good. I think he may be a serviceable backup for Kanter.
Darius Miller is a lot better, and I think he can get even better still. He seems much bigger, thicker and somehow more athletic than last year. He is unquestionably stronger, and looked very confident on the floor. He also got beat off the bounce too often.
- Stacey Poole has the furthest to go of the freshmen I saw, but he did have some good moments on defense and his energy never seemed to let up.
- DeAndre Liggins looked totally at home in the DDM. He slashed and attacked constantly, and showed the new kids what to do. He is becoming a leader, as hard as that is to believe, and his defensive energy was the same as last year.
Jon Hood looked good. Not great, but good. I liked his rebounding, I liked the way he ran the floor, but he has to develop more consistency with his jump shot. He got beat off the dribble way too often.
Overall, this was a good exhibition and I learned some things about this team and the players. To me, it looks like they have embraced the DDM, and are attacking it with and almost grim determination. Unlike last year's team, there is very little celebration on good plays and not a lot of smiling and cutting up. I don't think that's necessarily good or bad, just different. It will be interesting to see what the extra dimension of talented big people will bring to the team when Kanter and Vargas are able to participate.
It's fairly obvious that these guys aren't quite comfortable with each other yet, but hopefully that will come. I am most pleased with the effort and level of skill we saw, less so with defensive positioning and communication, but those things are always the last to the party.