SEC Quotable and Notable, Volume II: Opening Weekend Overreactions

Posted by Greg Mitchell on November 16th, 2015

The opening weekend is in the books and with the exception of Georgia’s surprising home loss to Chattanooga, the SEC emerged unscathed. Nothing is more fun than analyzing microscopic sample sizes, so this edition of Quotable and Notable is chock full of overreactions. Let’s jump right in.

Horace Spencer preserved Auburn's win over UAB with a block in the final seconds (

Horace Spencer preserved Auburn’s win over UAB with a block in the final seconds (

  • “And I’m not comparing him to them two, as far as he’s as good as them, he’s different.” – John Calipari on comparing Skal Labissiere to Karl-Anthony Towns. And oh boy, could you ever see against NJIT on Saturday why the Haitian big man has drawn rave reviews on the recruiting circuit. Labissiere went off for 22 second half points and scored from seemingly everywhere on the floor. This came after a lackluster opening night effort against Albany, but the freshman’s offensive versatility and touch suggests that Calipari has a player on this year’s roster unlike any he has coached in the past. It’ll be interesting to see how Calipari uses Labissiere and whether his veteran big men, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress, can be utilized to shore up any rebounding or defensive issues. Many people are going to harp tirelessly on whether Labissiere’s defense can catch up to his offense, but for now it might be best to sit back and appreciate what he can do. That said, Labissiere becoming an effective player on both ends of the floor would make Kentucky an even tougher team to beat in March.

  • “It was certainly not the way we wanted to start the year. We scored 90 points and got beat.” Mark Fox on Georgia’s opening night overtime loss to Chattanooga. The Bulldogs’ frontcourt was nonexistent on Friday night outside of Yante Maten, as Georgia was outrebounded by a team with only two players standing taller than 6’7”. Fans in Athens might want to prepare themselves for a torrent of “which Bulldog big can step up?” comments this season. The Dawgs battled back from a halftime deficit and the guard-oriented offense was predictably reliable, but Fox will need to find a way to cobble together enough frontcourt production to offset the sizable losses of Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic. Maten had a big night (17 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes) in a much larger role than typical, but is it reasonable to expect that from him every night? Probably not. Overreaction aside, it was just one game and Chattanooga figures to be a solid mid-major so it’s definitely not yet time to panic. Still, the pressure will be on a number of freshmen and former bit players (such as Kenny Paul Geno) to add quality depth to what looks, at least after a single game, like an unbalanced team.
Mark Fox needs his big men to control the boards better in the coming weeks. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Mark Fox needs his big men to control the boards better in the coming weeks. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • “I told my teammates, let’s give them a show.” – Kareem Canty on what he told his teammates before Auburn’s opening night win over UAB. And what a show it was. The Tigers are becoming a shining example of how quickly a basketball program can be revitalized when everything starts to fall into place. The type of energy in Auburn Arena and talent on the court would’ve been unimaginable just a few years ago on the Plains. Horace Spencer‘s block sealed the game, a moment emblematic of the active, athletic roster that Bruce Pearl has at his disposal this year. Between Canty and T.J. Dunans, the Tigers had no shortage of offensive leadership, even absent freshmen guards New Williams and Bryce Brown. Providence transfer Tyler Harris also showed an ability to cause mismatches on the perimeter with his size and ability to handle the ball. The arrow is definitely trending up for Auburn after notching one of the SEC’s more impressive opening night wins.
  • 2-0: Missouri‘s record after the opening weekend. The Tigers enter the second week of the season unscathed, which is more than Kim Anderson‘s squad could say at this time last year. One of those wins came against what should be a solid Wofford team (the other against Maryland-Eastern Shore), and the Tigers were able to score at least 73 points in both games. That’s also notable because Missouri barely averaged 60 points per contest last year in what was an offensive nightmare of a season. Anderson’s second team appears determined to play faster and has a number of guards who can penetrate and create easy baskets. Freshman big man Kevin Puryear has also been much better than expected offensively (33 points combined over the two games). These are small steps, but a big improvement from what was a disastrous opening night last season.
Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

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