At yesterday’s open scrimmage we got a chance to see the 2015-16 in live action and peek into what the new coaching staff’s philosophy is all about. With Patrick Holloway being held out due to a minor injury we saw a starting lineup (green team) that included Otis Livingston, Marquise Moore, Jaire Grayer, Marko Gujanicic, and Shevon Thompson. Later Dave Paulsen alluded that this would be the starting lineup if the season started today. Paulsen has already stated that freshman Livingston could be a day one starter at point guard and he saw plenty of action there in this scrimmage.
The biggest stand out was Marko, who shot the ball well and finished great around the rim. Being a post player is where he belongs and he just looks more comfortable in this role change from the new coaching staff. At this point I think he starts over Jalen Jenkins, who was on the second team in practice as well. This could change during the season but it’s easy to see that Marko has advantage here with better fundamental play overall.
The freshman struggled for the most part but guard Kameron Murrell had the best day of the newcomers as he shot the ball very well from the outside. Wing players Jaire Grayer and DeAndre Abrams were inconsistent with Grayer having a much stronger ending to the scrimmage. Livingston played the point well but didn’t have a great day shooting the ball. It is still easy to see Livingston as the point guard of the future for this program, he has great vision and instincts.
The strength of this team, much like last season, is in the front court. There’s true depth there with Julian Royal, Jalen Jenkins, and freshmen Danny Dixon and Daniel Relvao coming off the bench. Dixon needs to work on getting tougher in the post but he has some moves and can step out and shoot:
Freshmen will have to contribute this year for this team to be successful. For the veterans it’s a culture change and an emphasis on fundamentals, a change that won’t happen overnight. Shevon Thompson is still going to be this teams’ rock and they will look to get him involved early and often. Having said that they still desperately need their perimeter players to make shots and keep defenses honest. With more discipline on defense and less unforced errors it’s definitely a more optimistic year for this team to get out of the A-10 basement.