Posted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2012
- Jeronne Maymon sitting on the bench isn’t the ideal situation for the Tennessee Volunteers, but it might be the best case scenario for redshirt freshman guard Quinton Chievous. “He’s 6’5″, a perimeter player, but him playing at the four for us, it’s tough for big guys to guard him because he moves and has spacing and you have to guard him at the 3-point line,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He’s also a better post player than most guys in terms of offensive production. He creates a lot of mismatches for big guys, especially when his shot is going.” Chievous is making a name for himself in the post, creating a possibility for playing time since he is slightly lower on the depth chart in the backcourt. Though he may be pleasantly surprised with Chievous’ progress, Martin would certainly prefer to be at full strength at the forward position when the 6’7″ Maymon returns from a “minor setback” with a previous knee injury.
- John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats take on the number one team in the country in an exhibition game on Thursday. No, Cal hasn’t changed his mind on playing Indiana and isn’t ready to take on rival Louisville just yet. The Cats are taking on the NAIA’s top-ranked team Northwood, and Calipari says his team’s defense isn’t up to par yet. “We’ve just got a long way to go. Defensively, we’re just awful right now. We don’t stay in front of everybody and we got guys stopping left and right and think it’s OK or, ‘It wasn’t my man.’ Stuff like that,” Calipari said. But he is looking forward to seeing his team improve. “The greatest thing about playing a team like this… is that the weaknesses or the things we’re not doing well will be glaring.” An interesting side note for this game is that former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino is the head coach for Northwood, turning the Seahawks into an NAIA powerhouse in his six years there. Northwood may provide a quality exhibition test for the Cats after proving itself earlier in the week by trailing Michigan State by only six points at halftime.
- Much has been made about Calipari experimenting with various lineup possibilities, but you would have to assume that he has made a decision concerning his starting lineup for Thursday’s game. Wrong. “Don’t know who is going to start yet,” Calipari said. “Don’t know, still trying to figure some stuff out. What I’m tinkering with is combinations. I’m trying to figure out, when these guys are in together how do we play, when that group is in together how do we play. That’s what we are trying to do.” Regardless of whether or not you believe that is the truth, it is clear that the coach has been extremely vocal about his opinion concerning starting lineups. “It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s who’s going to finish,” Cal said. Remember, senior Darius Miller came off the bench despite playing 25-35 minutes during the NCAA Tournament run last season.
- After a successful 10-day trip in Italy this summer, it is clear that Georgia is ready to make a move up in the SEC landscape. “We have more pieces this year,” coach Mark Fox said. “We’re a deeper basketball team. We’re more athletic than we were, we’re a more physical group and certainly a more experienced group than last year.” Fox’s Bulldogs return four starters, including guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who averaged 13.2 points per game last year. In order to take a step forward, Caldwell-Pope will need to improve upon his field goal percentage which finished under 40 percent a season ago. Finding another scorer to help the 6’5″ star should help free him up for better looks.
- Alabama lost two big scorers in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, but the Crimson Tide realize they will need to be a different type of team this year in order to be successful. “I think last year when we had someone like JaMychal down low, we focused a lot of our offense on him, which was understandable because he was such a dominant threat,” guard Andrew Steele said. “I think when you look at our team this year, our biggest strength will be opening up the court a little bit more and I think we’ll be a little more perimeter oriented. We still have confidence in our bigs, but our strength will be how we attack people off the dribble and space people.” Bama was not an effective perimeter-oriented team in 2011-12. The Tide shot just 28.9 percent from beyond the arc, which put them at a paltry 328th in the nation. The guards will have to knock down more open shots from long range in order for the offense to open up like Steele envisions.