After the smackdown that the Kiddy Kats received in Norman, it's only predictable that there be a few folks that are getting nervous about the Cats this year. In this age of instant gratification, its natural to expect everything to be fixed as soon as it has been identified as an issue. Still, some things take time, unfortunately help defense is one of them....So in this article, I'm going to focus on those returning pieces that the Cats already have. Your thoughts, ideas and disagreements are welcome
I'm a fan just like you guys. Maybe I'm a little older, perhaps wiser (but no guarantees there) and i've had the benefit of observing the work that is required to build a successful program (both here at Arziona and at North Carolina). It's all rather tantalizing when you consider that there are a lot of talented tools already in the mix, but just like the instructions say, these ingredients need to cook for a while before they will be ready.
As a reminder.... Coach Miller has exactly three guys who saw significant playing time returning from last year's team.
Nic Wise - he's a senior, he's still a kid though. Still has problems of knowing when to try and take over the game and when not to. Still, Nic knows what needs to be done and does what he can to make it happen, but remember, he's 5'10' and while he's fast... he's not Darren Collison, always under control even when he's fast... fast. he can get double teamed and it's simply different being the guy. Plus he has to be "the guy" and run the team. That's a lot on his plate and it's huge step up in responsibility.
Jamelle Horne - We all witnessed his basketball IQ gaffes last year that cost the team two wins. He's a 3 being asked to be a 4. he's being asked to score more, but also do more of the other things that matter, board, play interior D and be Nic's other calming influence. Jamelle is still learning when to take the three when he's in the flow of the game and his mid range jump shot has been inconsistent. No questions about his efforts on D and on the boards. he is doing all of those little things, but again, it's a huge step up in the amount of responsibilities he's being asked to shoulder.
Kyle Fogg - played the two, but was really the backcourt defensive specialist. He's been hampered by mono and it's shown in his conditioning, his defense has suffered somewhat as Miller has been playing him into shape.
From the fringe, we have a plus and a minus and a couple of big bodies
1) The plus - Brandon Lavender - Consistency is the keyword here. He's been an active force on the floor. He needs to trust in his shot. The effort is there and it's obvious that the change in coaches has been a positive for him
2) the minus - Garland Judkins was supposed to have a breakout year, instead he's the next to last guy off the bench. Is he not playing well with others? Not buying into the system? The speculation is rampant about his potential of leaving the program.
3) the big bodies - Alex Jacobsen has been fine in spot duty, better than anyone could have anticipated. he's got a decent mid range shot and while he doesn't have the quicks, he does clog the lane effectively. Wouldn't be opposed to seeing him get a few more select opportunities. DJ Shumpert hasn't seen much duty, so lets just say he's incomplete. he hasn't impressed the staff enough to see much action and at this point we'll have to take them at their word as knowing what they have to work with.
As for the freshman five....I'm not going there today