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Hey guys,

Hope all of you had a good offseason but we gotta start talking about some real billiken basketball. Here is what I saw today.

IV - Knows he is the best, knows he is starting, showed his talent without much emotion.

KL - Best Shooter on the team, even more confidence than last year. Just where you want him to be

TL - Same and has a 3 point shot. He was 3/3 without hitting the rim from behind the arc. Still our best athlete

BH - He was killing people, if he gets position forget about it. Our best 5 has him at the PF even though that will never happen.

LM - He will be in the starting line up. He is too tough and no one will take the 3,4 or whatever from him. Had strong moves to the basket and hit some nice jumpers.

OI - Whoever on this board thought that OI was gonna step up to play the 4 will be extremely dissapointed. He was getting outhustled, outjumped and simply outplayed by everyone. He cant get position and every shot he takes is a 14 foot brick. Really, not much hope to crack the starting five before the first game.

DP - Still quickest guy on the team. UB really wants him to be a vocal leader for this team from how he was acting. He really isnt strong enough to compete in the violent halfcourt drills that we do. He really needs to be in the open court to be effective

DB - Rusty, no evidence of work in the off-season. Dissapointing

JJ - Trying to be a vocal leader. He really played hard today. He only took a couple errant jumpers and rebounded well. Wish Luke would teach him how to lift weights though

HD - Athletic, biggest wildcard, I think UB is going to use him to finish in the open floor, maybe with polk passing him the ball. HD isnt much to look at in the half court. It can easily be seen that HD hasnt been accustomed to UB's style. He instantly makes our team more athletic.

DM - Held his own, Nice shooter, and stayed in front of his man pretty well, granted he wasnt guarding anyone quick. He really does have a quick release and I dont think he will redshirt as he is competing. He is not accustomed to the physical punishment that comes from one of UB's Practices.

AK - Big guy, Strong, Probably wont redshirt, can bang with opposing PF for 5 min stretches. Prolly wont see significant time.

Overall, no one is really emerging at the 4. BH is vastly improved and brad will be forced to look at the twin towers look during stretches.

Cant Wait till November!

Nick

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With regular non-conference games now starting about three weeks earlier than the recent past years.....the chances of a freshman coming in and starting has gotten much slimmer. It would take a truly outstanding freshman to crack thru this group of Billiken veterans.

For that reason and assuming all are healthy, in November I'm going with a veteran line-up of TL, KL, LM, JJ and IV. DP, DB and BH are my next in line.

The distribution of minutes may change by Jan 1, once the freshmen stop thinking and simply get their reaction time up to speed.

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If BH is playing as well as you say and grant it this is only the first week of practice but do you think Brad will go with the twin towers as a change of pace during conference play or against some select opponents?

I know he talked about running more which I think is good, the kids are all running more these days but if BH and IV can stay out of foul trouble might be a nice change of pace once or twice during a game.

What about OI? What was his injury again? Do you think he will ever regain his strength?

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I am just shocked that none of the current recruiting class projects to be immediate contributors. Just shocked.

I know I will get criticized for those comments but I think my frustration all summer at our incoming class and lack of 07 class just hit a new level when Guest explained that the reason none of them will contribute immediately is fewer practice dates. Give me a break. We've had two years to improve at the 4 position but we are still looking at JJ starting and LM and BH getting the rest of the minutes there.

I hope for all of our sakes that Guest's line-up projections are wrong.

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kshoe....not at all shocked that your shocked. Truly, I would have been more shocked....if your weren't shocked!

It is my "personal" observation that the scheduling changes in college basketball have a meaningful impact on incoming freshmen. Practice still starts on or about October 15th. However, regular season games now start two weeks earlier than in past years. That two weeks equates to 12 or more practice sessions, which is a significant amount of seasoning time for incoming freshmen. Looking at the below first 10-game schedule segments, particularly the November 2006 portion. I would start my returning veteran players and work in the freshmen when the opportunity presented itself. But, that's just me!

1996-1997 Schedule

Nov 20 UALR

Dec 4 SIU-C

Dec 7 UMKC

Dec 9 Alcorn St

Dec 14 Furman

Dec 15 SMS

Dec 18 Murray St

Dec 21 EIU

Dec 23 UCLA

Dec 31 Vandy

2002-2003 Schedule

Nov 22 UT-Martin

Nov 26 SMS

Nov 30 St. Bona

Dec 3 Arizona

Dec 7 UT-PanAm

Dec 14 Dayton

Dec 18 Grambling

Dec 21 Butler

Dec 28 SIU-C

Jan 2 Kansas St.

2006-2007

Nov 11 Quincy

Nov 17 Texas A&M

Nov 18 Lamar

Nov 19 LaTech

Nov 25 Houston

Nov 29 Loyola-Chicago

Dec 2 SIU-C

Dec 9 WIU

Dec 12 Pacific

Dec 16 UT-Martin

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Brad said publically last year that he would not play the twin towers. I think there was several reasons for that. IV's skills were not that of a 4 and offensively BH could not play the 5 effectively. If Ian's skills in general have improved I think he may be able to transition to a 4 in some regard. If BH has improved, I think he can be a viable 5 this year. I still think we are one year away from having good confidence in BH. Now, that doesn't mean BH is completely ineffective. Quite the contrary. He will have to spell Ian all season and get minutes. I just don't see the twin towers scenario all that often, but I do think Brad will entertain it more than last year. When I think of twin towers, I always think of Mourning and Mutombo at Gtown. Granted Mourning was hurt if I remember correctly, but I seem to remember them each playing better when they were not together and as a result we didn't see the twin towers at Gtown as often as you think.

Kshoe, I hear what you are saying, but when guest refers to the starting lineup for the first few games it wouldn't shock me to see that lineup either. That being said, Brad's starting lineups usually mean nothing. The guys that get the most minutes don't always get the start with Brad. I think Brad will defer to a veteran before starting a freshman even if that veteran hasn't proven he be consistent and go out and do what the Coach asks and only what the Coach asks. That being said, let's hope JJ is not the JJ of old.

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Comparing to 96 means nothing. While it is a fact that the season is starting earlier and earlier it is also a fact that freshmen are now allowed more "pre-season" coaching then ever before through relaxed restrictions allowing coaches to work with the players and the fact that most incoming freshmen make it to campus the summer before they start.

Couple that with the evidence that freshmen accross the country are making bigger impacts then ever before (largely due to NBA early entrants) and I'm not buying your theory that its harder for freshmen to make an impact then it was 10 years ago.

If none of our freshmen are good enough to crack the top 8 of this team an optimist would say thats because we have such a great veteran laden team (16-13). A pessimist would say its because they probably aren't any good. I think I know where we both stand.

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comparing to 1996-1997 was just a 10 year benchmark, and the 2002-2003 was as close to a 5 year benchmark as I had at hand.

the pre-season small group workouts is far from the very physical regular practice sessions. It's more like a football workout w/out pads versus workouts with pads!

none of our three freshmen post-players are better than IV. In time, one of them may replace JJ. DM is not going to replace TL or KL, but he could evidently replace LM if his stroke continues hot.

why are pessimist such "bitter" people?

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Let me see if I have this right--

The Bills have a POY candidate at center who is a very experienced senior--but if the freshmen big men are not going to get big minutes then they are terrible!

We also have excellent juniors and sophomores wing players and guards who have loads of experience but if the freshmen are not good enough to play big minutes ahead of them then they are lousy players!

Is there something in the water? We have a potential to be a very good team and most of our key players are underclassmen but you and others seem to want to completely ignore this year and look two or three years down the road when no one can predict how good we will be because you don't like the freshmen class that has never played a minute. Insane!

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I noticed you skipped over the PF position? Any reason why?

3 of our 4 freshmen play the PF position and none of them are good enough to unseat JJ, a player nearly everyone on this board rips. Your right, there is no reason to be concerned about this.

I've come to the belief that this team is not NCAA caliber if JJ is the main man at the PF position. He's shown little over 4 years, why will this change now? Every defense will lay off him (and double Ian) and let him shoot the patented 15 foot jumpers. The fact none of our freshmen are going to unseat JJ (all according to Guest's early lineup projections) scares me very much for THIS YEARS team.

I also don't think we are NCAA caliber if LM is playing the 4. Its just not his natural postion.

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Thanks to Nark for the use of the Billiken

Am I the only guy seeing some tongue in cheek in your post? After all your years of Billiken hoops, nothing should shock you. For the rest of you, read my lips; everybody on scholly plays this year, until they prove they shouldn't. Brad is beating these guys on the head that they have to run - all the time - in both directions. One thing stood out today - DM can't defend LM because Luke is built like superman. The pack defense will help DM through this first year until he hits the weights. His offense will be fine and his attitude is great. Obie does very well in the middle on rebounding and can drive the lane; however, he's prone to immediately take the open look from 3 and that has not been productive for the weeks I've been watching. Some are outright ugly. When he takes one after the other in drills, he gets some rythym...but it doesn't translate to games.

All 3 frosh will help this year; none of them will knock an upper classman out of the rotation. Hopefully, I'll say the same thing when they are jrs.

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I think that AK can give us 5 minutes a game and he will give us added toughness. I think JJ can play well enough if he decides that he is not a scorer and he does not fire up bad shots. He is a D1 rebounder but he has lacked consistant focus. HD is a true unknown. I cannot predict how he will play but he is athletic.

So we have one position that has an experienced senior who can play if he plays smart and two freshmen with potential but they need seasoning. This does not mean that the freshmen are bad players or that the team is a bad team. We have really excellent players at the other positions and some depth on the bench. We will not be world champions but we should have a very nice team.

I assume that you think they will be very mediocre. What will it take for you to be a fan rather than a constant critic? If you say the NCAA tournament then you insist that the Bills be a top 30 team in the nation. I think that is possible but it is no cinch by a long shot. Yet they could still be a good team.

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Thanks to Nark for the use of the Billiken

So as to separate my ideas...here is what I see for minutes:

4/5 get 70 minutes:

Ian - 30

JJ - 10

AK - 10

Bryce - 10

Dixon - 5

Obie - 5

1/3 get 130 minutes

TL - 32

KL - 32

LM - 26

DB - 20

Mag - 10

Polk - 10

I could see Polk getting 6 of Luke's minutes. I could see DB getting 2 minutes each from the L bros.

If we are going to run, and practice is based on it, I can't see anyone sitting all the time unless injured or lazy.

I wonder if there is a D1 opponent we can put a 100 on.

BTW, Grawer once told us at Tip-off that Footes told him they should play like Loyola Marymount. Grawer said he told him there wasn't a player on the team who could keep that pace for 35 minutes. True story Footsie?

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I was definitely being sarcastic with the shocked part.

All summer I've been down on this recruiting class while many on this board have told me not to worry that they were late signees, relatively unrecruited, etc. They were still going to be contributors. Then I see an opinion that the reason they won't contribute is not enough practice in the preseason, well it just didn't sit right.

And while I personally believe that the lack of an immediate contributor will indeed hurt this team, Billikan is right that I'm even more worried about 3 years down the road. When you have a below average class and follow it up with what can only be considered a disapointing class this year...

I hope you are right about them contributing and us having a deep rotation because we run so much.

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"I assume that you think they will be very mediocre. What will it take for you to be a fan rather than a constant critic? If you say the NCAA tournament then you insist that the Bills be a top 30 team in the nation. I think that is possible but it is no cinch by a long shot. Yet they could still be a good team."

I really, really, really want this to be an NCAA team. To me that is our goal every year and anything else is failure. If we went four years in a row then had a down year I could handle it. But we haven't gone in 6 freaking years! If we don't make the tourney this year, yes I will be critical. Doesn't mean I'm not a fan. I really hope that the rest of the "fans" aren't happy if only make the NIT this year. That just isn't good enough.

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I do not mind ambition and although I have not talked to Brad I am sure he shares your view that an NCAA bid is imperative. However, I have a huge problem with your comment that that is the goal every year and "anything else is failure". If you would say that anything else is a disappointment then that is a fan but "failure" is not always the answer just because the team does not get a bid. How many teams make the tournament every year?

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soderberg has proven a freshman starting to open the season is a rarity. hell lisch didnt start.

kshoe, you are way off base on your reaction. when soderberg told us to end the meeting last tuesday that he expects johnson to have a good year, he was all but assigning the opening games starting spot to johnson.

all tsueg is saying is that with the first game being less than 3 weeks away, it shouldnt surprise anyone that the freshmen arent starting the season off at the center jump. whether we like it or not, soderberg has shown the newcomers have to earn their spots.

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I am shocked that none of the freshman have been picked on any of the preseason all league teams. I am also shocked that anyone would put any stock in the 1st couple of practices. I am also shocked that someone who seems to follow college basketball would make the assumption that because incoming freshman bigs don't start or even contribute at the beginning of the year that they won't be any good. However I am not shocked at the idiocy of so many on thos board ... I've been reading too long.

Official Billikens.com sponsor of H Waldman

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kshoe, you do remember that kevin lisch didnt start last year at the beginning of the year. kshoe, you do remember that ian vouyoukas not only didnt start he averaged less than 9 minutes a game as a freshman.

your expectations are totally unreasonable.

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Thanks for the report. Interesting observations, but since the starting lineup in January is never the starting lineup in November I wouldn't make too many projections based on what you saw, particularly with Husak. The fact of the matter remains that the best A-10 centers are really converted power forwards with the quickness and outside game that Bryce simply can't defend.

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