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Bonnies Begin Practice This Weekend, Here’s What’s on My Mind…

Adams is excited to run this offense again and it all begins today.

Adams is excited to run this offense again and it all begins today.

With the calendar turning to October 2nd it signals the “start” of college basketball.

Teams are able to practice together starting today (tonight), although they’ve been working out for months now. For most fans, college basketball begins around the second week of November but for the players and coaches the time to lay the groundwork begins in earnest today. Sure, players have been doing strength and conditioning and working out in small groups since the summer but today marks a new challenge. Today, players start learning the playbook, a task that is challenging to say the least for freshman and newcomers. Today, the RC has a different buzz to it. The entire roster is on the floor, every coach and manager are there, the drills are being run with precision and Mark Schmidt starts losing his voice one day at a time from now until Mid-March.

The Bonnies head into the season with a pair of terrific players in Dion Wright and Marcus Posley, a talented sophomore point guard in Jay Adams, a paper thing front-court and a lot of questions. With N’Doye, Cumberbatch and Dees gone, SBU has some holes to fill. Youssou was one of the country’s best 7-footers, and was a game changing in the paint that every opposing coach had to account for. Even on nights when he didn’t have his “A” game, his mere presence was important on both ends of the floor. Cumberbatch improved each game and turned himself into a solid if not spectacular swing-man who could play at the A10 level. Players of his caliber are vital to a roster in that you know what you’re getting. Dees providing some minutes and experience.

Some things I’m wondering today: Can Schmidt turn three good players into a winner? How will the team’s approach change with such a small and thin lineup? Will Dion Wright turn into a fantastic stretch four? Will the team go “small” like Dayton did a year ago and player at times with four guards? What will we get out of true freshman LaDarien Griffin and Derrick Woods? Will Denzel Gregg become a big time A10 player or find himself in the doghouse again? What will Courtney Stockard bring? Can we make a post-season tournament with Wright and Posley leading the way?

These are just a few that pop up right off the bat…there’s plenty more.

Additionally, we should note some changes in the college basketball game in terms of rules. The shot-clock is down to 30 seconds from 35, the restricted area in the paint is now four feet (was three) and a bunch of other points of emphasis that can be found here. I think I speak for most college hoops fans when I say “it’s about damm time” for the shot clock reduction. I’m very excited to watch a faster-paced game this season and hoping it leads to increased scoring and not a decreased shot quality selection (could happen). I’m tired of watching Final Four games being played in the 50s and as much as I cannot stand the NBA, I do appreciate a bit of scoring. I’m not asking for the college team to turn into the no defense slog that the Association is, but it would be nice to see the nation’s best teams shooting a higher percentage from the field.

We’ve long thought Schmidt would bring a “run and gun” style of play to the RC but have yet to see that…I’m wondering if this season (giving the small roster and shot-clock changes) the Bonnies will play at a faster pace than they have since Mark’s arrival. Another thing to watch.

We’ll keep the previews and content rolling as we forge into October. Thanks as always for reading and as always, Go Bonnies!

For J.P. Butler’s take on the opening of practice click here.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.