5 Things to Watch vs. Mansfield
Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies will “open” their season this weekend against Mansfield in the team’s annual exhibition game. While the result of this game is never in question (at least by the second half) the contest serves as an important warm-up and dress rehearsal for the Bonnies. Their next opponent, the Binghamton Bears on Friday the 13th, will pose a much bigger challenge for the short-handed club.
So, as we watch the game unfold this Saturday night what should we have an eye on? Below are five things I’ll be watching as the team hopefully, throttles Mansfield and rolls to an easy victory.
- What Does the Team Look Like Down Low? Granted, this game isn’t exactly a great barometer for how the club will play vs. real big men, but it still has to be the number one concern heading into the game. How does Dion play without Ndoye? Is he playing the five or is Denzel Gregg, or is it someone surprising like Derrick Woods? How does Dion rebound and score when faced with guarding another team’s biggest player? Mansfield’s biggest players are 6-8 (two of them) so while Wright/Gregg won’t deal with a pair of 6-10 players, I will be really interested in watching what the rotation is down low. This to me is going to be the biggest question mark of the season: How the team plays inside given the lack of interior players and height.
- Whose the Starting Five? We know it will consist of Jay Adams, Posley and Dion but who fills in the last two spots? Word in the Hickey was Stockard was a likely starter but he’s now out with a broken foot. Does Schmidt start Idris Taqqee? We know he can’t throw the ball in the ocean (or at least hasn’t shown us he can to date) but he is a sophomore now and maybe coach trusts him a bit more and he’s developed over the summer. Does Gregg start? I assume he has to right? He’s a junior who to me, is the team’s biggest X-factor. If he plays well along side Dion this team’s ceiling goes way up. He’s been so inconsistent though and now he needs to produce more nights than night. If I had to guess the lineup is Jay, Marcus, Taqqee, Dion and Denzel but who knows.
- What’s up with the Freshman? I’m really looking forward to seeing these three on the floor. They will ALL have to play this season which is very rare. I’m interested to see if Woods looks decent inside, if Griffin can shoot the ball a bit, and if Kaputo is as good as people say he is with the rock. We’ve been teased by exhibitions before but it’s going to be nice to finally see the freshman on the floor in a pseudo-game. With the team’s lack of depth these three are going to have to play and well fairly well this season.
- Can Dion Shoot it from Deep? Another key to the season and something folks have been pondering all off-season. If Wright can shoot a decent percentage from three point range the team’s identity changes a bit. Also, given the fact that he will likely guard some 5’s, his ability to pull them 20 feet from the basket and shoot it will be key for his efficiency in scoring vs. them. If he has to score vs. those trees inside of 12 feet he becomes much less effective and will work that much harder to score.
- Does the Team Play Faster? Schmidt has said he’s going to play faster this year without a true center, but will this actually happen? In my opinion the team has to get up and down the floor faster in order to given their forwards a chance to score, especially come league play. Dion and Denzel may score fine against Binghamton and Siena and Niagara but things will be different against URI, VCU and Richmond. I’m really hope they play at the fastest clip yet under Schmidt…and yes, I realize that will likely happen anyway given the NCAA rule change to the 30 second clock.