Today's analysis may be about as worthless as yesterday's pitch for a starting lineup. But with a few days off and a couple MUCH tougher games approaching, it seems opportune if nothing else. I want to examine the status of each player and where we see them going from here. As we all know, expectations need to be drastically tempered, but there's plenty of talent and potential to develop here for the long run.
Sherron Collins: looks better than ever. We always knew he had this in him, but the visual evidence is still extremely reassuring. Perhaps even more impressive than his play to date is his evidence of leadership. It seems that he's really taken to the role both vocally and by example, which will be extremely imperative as some tougher times approach. And they will.
Cole Aldrich: needs to stop fouling. But man, you really can't say enough about his progress. Again, we all saw this coming, but the visual evidence has been extraordinary. Sure, some of his points have come on account of mismatched opposition, but the vast majority have been real points, be it from position, a post-move, or his surprisingly dependable 18 footer from the top of the key. Back to the fouling, Bill says he's not ready to call it a tendency (so I'll concede to him on that) and it better not be, because this team just looks entirely different with him on the floor. His presence alone commands so much attention that it seems to take a ton of pressure off the other guys.
Tyrel Reed: is coming along. I was pretty surprised that he didn't get the start last night, because I think this team (like any) needs an outside shooter. And aside from Sherron, no one else in the top tier of players really gives us that right now. Besides that, he really has a good understanding of ball movement and the offense in general. We still need to get him moving his feet better on defense, but I'd expect to see him get a few more minutes next week.
Brady Morningstar: is doing what he needs to. For one thing, any time he has six assists against no turnovers, I'll be happy. But I'm pretty confused as to what he gives us that Tyrel doesn't, though knowing Bill's style, it's probably defense. From my viewpoint, though, I don't notice a huge disparity between his guarding and Tyrel's. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Tyshawn Taylor: is damn fast. If he can figure out a way to harness that speed a little (and he did in the first half), he's going to be really tough to guard. And without taking anything away from Mario, Tyshawn reminds me of him defensively. He hasn't gotten out in the passing lanes like Mario did, but his long arms and quick hands really seem to make it hard to dribble around him. I still think he's a better fit off the bench for the spark he could provide (and positionally), but I can understand why Bill has him starting for now.
The Morris twins: are one in the same. Which really shouldn't be all that surprising. I wanted to evaluate them differently, but so far they really have looked pretty much identical. They both look good in the open court. They both have shown flashes of being great rebounders. They've both bothered some people with their length. And they both look completely lost offensively. Whether it's a herky-jerky inside move or an ill-advised shot from the outside, neither looks comfortable in the offense at all. Of anyone on the team, I think these two will be the most volatile, but they both are oozing with talent and potential. All that said, I expect both to have a lot of trouble next week.
Travis Releford: does a little bit of everything. He really reminds me of a young Keith Langford. Incredible athlete, tons of energy, ability to steal us possessions, the best slasher on the team, but a horrifically bad outside shot. With all that, perhaps his biggest attribute is his ability to defend. He's not quite there yet, but he has all the makings of a great defender in the very near term. I was advocating him as a starter as recently as yesterday – and to an extent I still believe that – but I can see why he's more suited as an energy guy off the bench.
Quintrell Thomas: is extremely raw. I'm told he's a sponge at practice and you can see how hard he works. Combine that with his athletic ability, general build and basketball instincts and the Darnell Jackson comparisons are impossible to ignore. He's definitely further along than Darnell was at this point, but I'd still expect him to improve substantially as the time goes by. I was optimistic before the season, but having watched him a few times, I think I had him slightly undervalued.
Conner Teahan: finally hit a three. As you are all well aware, Teahan went though the longest drought of his life (not in the least bit documented) from three in the early going this year, but he finally got one to fall last night. Let's hope that gets the monkey off his back and he can go back to draining them as he did a year ago. With Bill's claim that he'll be trimming the rotation next week, I think we may see a little less of Conner, but don't forget about him because he's still got a role on this team if he's making shots.
Tyrone Appleton: is having a little trouble adjusting. There's not much to analyze here, because his PT has been so limited, but it's safe to say that the transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as anyone would have hoped. If he's going to get any meaningful minutes, he's going to have to earn it in practice, because his court time during games is going to be extremely minimal in the near term.
Mario Little: needs to get healthy. Obviously I can't analyze what I haven't seen, but from what I know he stands to be a very important piece of this team.
And yes, I will of course be wishing you a very HAPPY MULLET WEDNESDAY!