What do you do when you wake too early on a Saturday morning to start mowing/mulching the towering mass of leaves that is your backyard? Write a FanPost!
I couldn't believe the emotional investment that last night's game drew out of me considering the opponent (#253 ranking at KenPom.com) and the time of year (6 hours to HBCK time!), but I wanted to share my thoughts on each of the player's effort and production.
Player of the Game: Rodney "MacGruber" McGruder - 18 and 11 (6 ORB)
Rod took over when the game was on the line, sparking the team with a key strip and fast break in the second half. Its great to see him continue the offensive rebounding, as we had zero inside presence on the offensive side (more on that after the jump). HCFM said Rod needed to improve his dribble drive skills and I thought last night was a positive indicator in that regard.
Jordan "JO" Henriquez - 11 and 9, 5 blocks
He is who we thought he was... only a little better with much room for growth. I don't know that he will ever be able to establish himself inside the paint, but there's hope. He really kept us in the game in the first half (sweet quick turn dunk). However, he has excellent shot blocking instincts and defensive rebounding ability, which on a team dominated by guards will be invaluable.
Will "Sprawdling" Spradling - 15 and 2, 3 assists, 8-9 FT, 5+ charges (3 official ones I believe)
I love this kid. In a world of one and dones (or two and done when the NBA decides to shoot itself in the foot), a kid you absolutely know is going to play 4 years and improve every year is huge. He reminds me a lot of the Honey Badger (not because he's white) for the violent collisions that never seem to rattle his 170lb frame. Huge 3PT towards the end of the game, followed by six straight FTs to ice the game. His somewhat shaky offensive play in the first half kept him being my player of the game.
Shane Southwell - 11 and 4, 2 assists, 1 steal
I hope all those starts last year pay off for Southwell. I think he can be a bigger version of McGruder (eventually) if he could improve his decision making and focus. I like the flexibility he provides us; we can go big (slide McGruder to the 2, Southwell at the 3) or small (Rod at the 3, Southwell at the 4) when he's on the court. Another guy that I don't want to see wasting possessions with 3PTA, he needs to work the middle of the floor, slash and get to the rim (great FT shooter). The announcers touted his passing ability and I agree. He's only a Soph, and I expect actual contributions this year.
Martavious Irving - 8 and 5, 2 assists, 1 steal
Ugh, this guy is frustrating. I know he played 37 minutes (and didn't look winded, unlike Angel after 5 min) because of Guard foul trouble, but I thought he had one of the more disappointing games last night. Four missed 3PT (felt like they were all during CSU's 1st half run too), 2 missed FT (worst FT shooter on the team, yes that's counting JO) and poor defense all game. It seemed like all the open 3PT attempts for CSU were a product of his either: getting beat off the dribble or not rotating in time. Maybe HCBS can convince him to play DB for us... Despite all that, I put him in the Positive Contributors cat. He did play almost the entire game (never looking tired), handled the early game press and allowed us to avoid further foul trouble for Rod and Will. Its something.
Poor Contributions (or at least Below what was Expected):
Angel Rodriguez - 5 and 2, 1 assist, 1 steal (14 min)
I went from being really excited about this guy 5 minutes into the game, to realizing that HCFM is going to run him into the ground with conditioning. He was gassed and never seemed to get back into the rhythm of the game after that early stretch. I don't think that will be a long term problem, but let's hope he is up to speed by Big XII play. I see him being a starter by then, but last night was somewhat disappointing.
Thomas Gipson - 2 points, 1 blk (16 min)
Very disappointed in his inability to rebound (or even get in the right position), although from what I remember, we expected that. Considering the play time he garnered (and the start), I think HCFM really likes the guy, but man was his stat sheet empty. These guys are freshman, so its a long learning process. I do expect him to be a producer this year, but after last night JamSam needs to get his S-H-I-T together A-S-A-P.
Jeremy Jones, Adrian Diaz, Omari Lawrence and Ojeleye
I don't see any of these guys getting big minutes anytime soon, and that's a good thing in my book! Is it just me, or did it seem like Frank had a slower hook last night? We supposedly have his deepest team ever, yet he allowed the core group of studs (Rod, Will and JO) to play long stretches at a time. I like it.
Projected Starting Lineup by Big XII Play:
PG - Angel Rodriguez
SG - Will Spradling
SF - Rodney McGruder
PF - Jamer Samuels
C - Jordan Henriquez
6th Man -Shane Southwell
Top Bench Guys - Thomas Gipson, Martavious Irving