First, and most importantly, if you're not already enjoying this basketball season to the fullest, start doing so ASAP. We had like MAYBE 3.5 starters play well, our backup frontcourt played like bunghole slash didn't even exist, and we just beat a fringe top 25 / sure NCAA team by double digits in a true road game. With that out of the way, what we've seen through two games (with potential overreactions denoted with Through two games take):
- I'll start with an easy and obvious one. Jordan Murphy is an absolute beast this year. I pointed this out after the Concordia scrimmage and was told by a twitter follower that I couldn't take anything away from a matchup with a lower division team. Well, anonymous twitter "realist", feel free to fall asleep while thinking about this game on repeat for the next month or so because Murph is the real deal. Through two games take: He's a lock for a first team all-B1G level season, and will receive POY votes.
- The biggest relief of this season so far was definitely Amir Coffey finding life in the 2nd half at Providence. Through 1.5 games he looked completely disinterested in playing basketball at all; him starting to find his shot will make him a lethal threat. Through two games take: Coffey will lead us in scoring 10+ times and will achieve at least one triple double.
- It feels like we aren't going to give Nate Mason enough love this year. He will never have an amazing effective field goal percentage (see next bullet) but he has an outstanding awareness of when we need a bucket and ability to go get it. He's exactly who I want at PG in a Providence type road game. Through two games take: multiple Mason buzzer beaters will drop through the net this season.
- If I can only have one complaint about Richard Pitino it's the lack of crisp ball movement in some of our half court sets. This was a major problem against Providence especially in the first half (one assist). Through two games take: can we get on the freaking fast break a little more so this is a non-issue? No? Ok fine - we won't have a worse half assist-wise than the first half this year
- Michael Hurt looks like he belongs on a Big Ten team this year. I think he's going to give us some really nice, productive minutes. Through two games take: he needs to shoot more; he'll win us a game by draining 3+ shots from deep
- Has Bakary regressed, or have these just been two tough matchups to start the year? I lean towards the latter. True, he hasn't cured his hooves for hands, but I promise he'll look better this season than he has so far. Through two games take: he won't foul out of all 18 B1G games
- Fitzgerald clearly hasn't adjusted yet to the pace and physicality of play after so much time out of game action. The nonconference gimmes will be super valuable to see what he's got. Through two games take: We might only need him when Jordan Murphy literally runs out of wind
- I said it after the scrimmages but I'm ready to say it with a little more certainty now; our starting 5 when playing well can compete with literally anyone in the country. Through two games take: barring major foul trouble, we are beating MSU at home
The other fun thing a small sample size gives us is....small sample size statistics! Here are some fun nuggets (with stats sourced from the wonderful site kenpom.com)
- We are 258th in the country 3P% defense. Last year we were 13th. More likely that we suddenly suck at defending 3, or that two teams were hot against us?
- Jordan Murphy is currently the second best player in the entire country . Bonzie Colson is #1
- Nate mason had 0 assists tonight and assist rate is less than 1/3 of last year....ball movement will come
- Bakary Konate is committing 32 fouls per 40 minutes. Can't figure out how to check but that's gotta be #1 nationally
- Below avg O-ratings: Isaiah (bad game 1), Fitz, Bakary. nobody else.
So clearly, Jordan Murphy is winning Big Ten POY, teams will rain threes on us all year, and Bakary will never not foul out. As least, those are my conclusions until I can overreact to our game three.