WKU Basketball: Open Scrimmage leaves fans with a lot of questions
“Sluggish”. That was the word Rick Stansbury used to describe Saturday afternoon’s basketball open scrimmage.
It is hard to disagree with him. This was fan’s first true impression of this season’s WKU team. Last week’s Hilltopper Hysteria was more of an All-Star Game feel, with players seeing who could throw down the best dunk or make the most impressive play.
Today was a different story. The team seemed sluggish as they had a lot of issues with turnovers and fouls. Stansbury was definitely not ecstatic following the performance, but this team did show spurts of what they might be able to become.
Following the scrimmage, fans do still have some questions to ask:
What will the starting lineup look like?
Stansbury and company played with six different starting lineups with players switching sides throughout. Lamonte Bearden did not play as he is recovering from a bad ankle. When asked after the game, Stansbury said he expects him to be out of practice for about a week. Here were the different starting lineups that we saw:
Stansbury obviously showed a lot of different looks lineup wise.
Which was the best? Hard to say. The lineup that scored the most points was that of the Red team during segment one. To me, that was because of the sheer difference in athleticism compared to Team White. Playing with three guards, a small forward and a big man is what I see Stansbury going to most often.
The second segment allowed for a much closer matchup. The main reason? The athleticism was matched between the two teams. Having Dwight Coleby and Justin Johnson on different teams allowed for the game to play faster, but did take a major decrease in points. Were these connected? Not neccessarily. Stansbury was not happy with how Coleby played and he was not much of a factor overall.
After today, what is the lineup I would go with for their first regular season game?
G - Lamonte Bearden
G - Taveion Hollingsworth
G - Josh Anderson
F - Justin Johnson
F - Dwight Coleby
The athleticism of Hollingsworth and Anderson will balance the lack thereof of Johnson and Coleby. It must be noted that there is still the chance that the Tops will be without Anderson to start the season. If so, I think Stansbury will slide Darius Thompson into that slot.
What is the status of Josh Anderson and Moustapha Diagne?
On the topic of Anderson and Diagne, we still do not know their status from the NCAA. Before the game, media relations let us know that they have no idea on whether the two will be cleared or denied to play this season.
If Anderson and Diagne are not eligible, it would be a massive loss to this team. Anderson might just be the best scorer on the team and seems like one of the only players on the team that could truly take over and “win the game” for the Tops. A loss of Diagne is possibly larger. Along with Coleby, Diagne is the Tops only player over 6'9" and without him, WKU will run into a lot of issues with teams in the future with a solid big man if Dwight Coleby gets into foul trouble.
Can this team keep up with its’ lack of depth?
Depth might be the Hilltoppers biggest weakness. Foul trouble could be the main reason this team will struggle in games that they should handily win. This especially worried me in the scrimmage, because players like Coleby, Diagne, and Johnson fouled multiple times. While that isn’t a stat that was kept today, I would guess that all three would be between three to five fouls a piece. This cannot happen, especially if Diagne is ineligible. Once teams learn that Coleby will foul, they will immediately go at him. How will the Tops recover if Coleby picks up two fouls in the first five minutes of the first half?
Depth is something that Stansbury talked about in his postgame comments. He is really looking forward to being able to have subs to come into games. He thinks that this will make his team look better than they did on Saturday.
Where will this team look to score?
The best scorer on the team will not be eligible to play this season: Jared Savage has one of the smoothest strokes I have seen from a college player. This is all without mentioning that he can be lights out from three.
After Savage, the best scorer on the team looks to be either Josh Anderson or Taveion Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth finished the day 7/15 from the field with 15 points. Anderson and Savage also added 15 of their own.
Overall, I do not expect this team to have issues putting the ball through the hoop. I do wish I would have seen more from Darius Thompson and Jake Ohmer today, though. Thompson only made one shot from the floor and by my count Ohmer only had two points. The Northern Kentucky native can become a key player off the bench for WKU. He is never going to wow you with the athleticism that Hollingsworth and Anderson can, but he might be the best three pointer shooter on the team not named Jared Savage.
Who will be the leader that emerges?
This was something that Stansbury was preaching throughout warmups and the scrimmage was for someone to step up and communicate. Multiple times he was telling players like Darius Thompson, Justin Johnson and Taveion Hollingsworth to talk on the court. As it showed last year, not having a leader kills a team and their progress.
At one point in the scrimmage, Justin Johnson came over to Stansbury telling him that one player missed his spot on a play. Stansbury looked at him and told him to go tell that player himself. Stansbury needs a leader to emerge. Without one this team will not succeed.
Overall, this was my first chance to see this team play. The big thing that I see is potential; they could be very good. Darius Thompson talked post game about how much this team enjoys playing with one another. I spoke often on the Redzone radio show last year about how I felt that team chemistry was lacking with last season’s team. It seems like this might not be an issue this season. A lot is still to be seen with this team. Whether Anderson and Diagne will play this season could very well be the difference between a good season and an average season.
Sam Gormley is one of the hosts of WKU RedZone Radio. RedZone Radio is a WKU-themed radio show that airs every Sunday at 7pm on Revolution 91.7. You can follow them on Facebook @WKURedZone or on Twitter @WKURedzone