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slu72

The 5 biggest questions heading into '19-20 season

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I was going to add on to the Jacobs thread with this question but believe it deserves it's own thread. With 7 new players, 5 of which are FR, our new uniforms should have had a big ? mark on the back. 

Here's my 5 listed from most important to least important, although I think all 5 are pretty major factors.

1.) The level of improvement in our Big 3 returnees - Or how big is that hole in our buckets?

Bess and Isabell our go to guys for points are gone. How does Travis plan on fixing that hole in the bucket. It's got to come from JGood, French, and Thatch the only 3 with A10 experience and time against P5 schools. 24 pts ppg returns. Not one of the 3 has shown in the past to be perimeter shot makers. JGood and French are basically inside scorers and really not that prolific in there either. Thatch remains a mystery on offense. Is he an outside threat at all? Is he a slasher? The points have to come from somewhere. We all ridiculed Taj Mahal 79 for his derisive posts about JGood and French last year on how much improvement they have to make over the summer. I agree with him. If these 3 haven't upped their offense, we could have trouble putting points on the board. 

2.) Who cowboy's up to replace Bess on D and who helps French on inside D? - Or can our D be as effective as it was last year? 

I'll start this one off with we won't be as effective on D as last year. Bess was such a key to the success we had last year both on O and D. The guy we could rely on to shut down an opponent's main scorers from the wings or guards. He shut down Powell of SH, the kid from St.Joes in at least one game, and others. His D could well land him a role in the NBA. Who do we have to shut down these types this year? Fred Jr did a great job as a FR against some good players. So, I'll give us that as a plus. JGood and French have both shown they can be effective on D, but that still leaves 2 opponents open. Will we play more zone, ie the 1-3-1, to offset the loss of Bess and Foreman (not the best but a big body on the inside)? I suspect we'll have to use this more and more. There are teams it won't work against, however, Davidson comes to mind as they'll just shoot over it as will others. So Travis is still going to have come up with some D stoppers. My guess is Hargrove leads the pack here. But face it no one, save for Fred Jr, is going to come close to Bess on D at this point. And if we are going to be scoring challenged, we're going to need to play some great D to stay competitive. 

3.) Who steps up to help French on the interior- Or on a team stacked with guys at the wing can any of them be effective at the 4?

This is a real mystery at this point. Perkins, Jimerson, Hargrove, Fred, Jr. even Hankton all seem to be looked at as wings. So who helps French on the inside to take the heat off of him? There's no easy answer to this one since if we really have good outside shooting, the heat can't be turned up that much on Hasahn. In an ideal scenario, we would be burning the nets from mid range and 3 land. Then the opponent can't pack it in against French. And if French is left to roam alone or one on one down low, he's gonna have a banner season. But if we aren't a team of snipers, then he's gonna need help, make that lots of help. Because he'll be dealing with 1 on 3 with a little help from JGood. At this point, my nod goes to Hargrove, because he's a leaper and athletic. However, it would not be a surprise to see Hankton, who is taller, has bulked up, and shown he might be able to knock down 3's (stretch 4) get a fair shot at playing the 4 alongside French. I'm discounting the two FR trees at this point, although from some reports, Jimmy Bell might surprise us all before is said and done. 

4.) Will we be a running team- Or will staying a weave half court offense be in our best interests? 

Again so many factors to consider on this one. Who besides French will be there to haul down our opponents misses? Who will lead the breaks (I've made it no mystery on my part to who this should be)? And will we mess them up at the finish like we did last year? That last point was so frustrating I wanted to throw my single malt scotch thru the screen at least a hundred times. We gave away so many easy buckets it was bridge leap time. I think Travis is going to go for us being a running team. He needs to find another board man besides French. He needs to find an effective PG to run it (dare I say Yurimania's your man). He needs to find finishers, and praise Jesus, I think he's got 'em this year;  Hargrove, Perkins, JGood (hopefully), Jacobs, Thatch, and Jimerson to close out the deal from the arc. Why screw with the bob and weave when you've got young athletic guys who can apply some real pressure? Why subject a young team to the complicated half court D's of D1 teams that will frustrate the hell out of a bunch of young guys? Hell, yes, run the court. You got the numbers. Now all you need are the guys to sweep the boards and get it rolling. 

5.) How good are our FR- Or can 2-3 stars compete in the A10 their FR year?

From all reports, video highlights, HS backgrounds, etc this is a talented class of FR. Obviously, the two FR trees are question marks at this point. Neither highly recruited but at least they're tall. Each has some physical baggage; Diara the knee and Jimmy B the weight. They're a wait and see at best at this point. Jimerson seems to be getting the most praise for his uncanny 3 point shooting. I pray that come to pass. Just what the doctor ordered for this team. A sniper. Hargrove is an impressive athlete no doubt. Wished he were two inches and 20 lbs heavier but FR take time to bulk up. Thing that is most appealing about him is his energy. The kid appears to have a non stop motor. I need not go into my thoughts about Yurimania, other than to say true PG's are hard to find these days. If he can hit some 3's or get to the rim, he's going to be an all time Billiken favorite, because the kid's a sneaky good passer and lives for the assist rather than the points. They are one and the same, folks. You don't get an A unless you get points. He seems to like that role. 

Long post just to get some serious discussion started before the fray begins in a very short time. If you've taken the time to read this Taj Mahal 79 like post thanks for your patience. I really would be interested to hear your thoughts about what promises to be a most interesting season for Billiken fans. 

 

 

 

 

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Coach Ford's general response to all five of your questions is that we have the personnel to play more uptempo, create turnovers and get easy baskets.  An open three in transition is easier to make than a guarded three with 4 seconds left on the shot clock.  Two extra layups in transition adds 4 points to the scoreboard.

Last year our team shot about 30% from three.  Simply averaging 6/18 per game from three would increase our shooting percentage by 3 points.  If you pencil in 2/5 for Jimerson, then our other shooters would have to average 4/13.  I think that's doable.

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Obviously, it remains to be seen how long it takes for the team chemistry to develop, but in Ford's three years at SLU, a pattern has been trending that the team is much more cohesive from late January to mid-February on than in November and December.  With so many newcomers, that may be magnified in 2019-20.  It should be a fun season to watch with relaxed expectations.  Even so, the "Big 3" have tasted a tiny bit of the NCAA Tournament experience, and they should be angling hungrily to dive deeper into that sooner than later.  I wouldn't put it beyond them to get back come March.  (Then, in 2020-21, the goal will be an A-10 regular season championship and a deep NCAA Tourney run!)

I think that one factor you, 72 — and more of us — are overlooking is the lone senior: Tay Weaver.  He comes in with a reputation as a dynamo on defense and is a volume 3-point shooter.  It will be his last go-round.  Is he just around for the ride, or is he looking to leave a legacy?  If it's the latter, then some of the questions can be answered positively.

Lastly, I understand the notion of undervaluing Bell and Diarra, but Ford did recruit them and has talked up Bell, so maybe we should at least hope for some contributions from them.  I don't think the team will become a sieve when French sits down, and he'll have some help inside.

I think the Bills will do better in '19-'20 than the "experts" project beforehand.

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