Sunday, October 30, 2022

Random thoughts on the Eau Claire exhibition game

In no special order, here are some things I thought about during the Badgers Exhibition game against Eau Claire today.

No huge red flags. Barring injuries this team should be fine. There were not constant defensive lapses like in Davison's first year where the team was clearly lost. Outside of Essegian, the shooting was bad. Probably not bad enough to tank the season, but bad enough to hold them back. 

Essegian's first three point shot attempt was a nervous miss, but his last attempt was a thing of beauty. Clearly he had some nerves being on the floor at first, but was working hard and hustling. There was not a ton of confidence in the first shot. On his last 3 point attempt he caught, set, and shot in one super quick motion that showed why he will be in the rotation this year. 

It was super quiet when the badgers were on defense. After 5 years of Davison constantly yelling out screens and defensive calls very loudly, the silence on the defensive side of the court was very noticeable. There were still screen calls and the defense didn't seem to have any major problems with communication, it was just very different after so many years of hearing Davison call out everything. 

Backup point guard- McGee got first crack at it, and if needed he could give Chucky a rest for 4 minutes a half. He got yanked early in the second half when he made a terrible full court pass into traffic that got intercepted. The other option they used was Klesmit at point with Wahl and Gilmore for support. Klesmit is not natural there so I'm not sure this was a better option, but Wahl has run point as a forward before and could do this again if McGee isn't doing enough to earn minutes. 

Wahl was the best player on the court. He was aggressive offensively both getting his own shot and getting others theirs including pushing the ball to get into transition (although not often, it is the badgers). I expect Wahl to lead this team in scoring. He has developed an almost Happ like touch around the basket, and if he can get anything on the perimeter he will be a a very tough cover. 

The Badgers continued switching most screens but went over on some too. Once they play a better opponent it will be interesting to see if this changes, but seems like mostly switching is the defense going forward. On a few occasions they did bring help down or toward the top of the key from the weak side of the floor perimeter defender. This gave help but left that player open from three. I don't remember the badgers doing this much before, and maybe it was just because that player did not need to be guarded from 3. It's a different way to help, but we'll see if they do it at all going forward. 

The starting 5 looked fine outside of Chucky's shooting woes. This could be the starting 5 all year or not, but I think it's safe to say these 5 will be part of the 7-8 guys getting significant minutes this year. The other 2-3 guys are not as clear. Below is what I saw from others trying to get into that group. 

Essegian seems likely to be in that group. His shooting is just too valuable on a team where that is a weakness. He'll get yanked a lot and have stretches where he struggles but we just don't have anyone else like him. 

I was a Carter Gilmore hater last year. Hopefully I will not be one at the end of this year, as he looks to be in that group of significant contributors. He was fine today but still is very hesitant to shoot on offense, and he needs to be willing to do that. With no other big man depth, he will probably be asked to do more than you want to put on him. 

Will there be an 8th guy or just a bunch of people rotating in? Neath seems like the most likely option to get a bunch of minutes of what is left. He was not good today and picked up a couple fouls being way too aggressive. He also jacked up a long mid range 2 off the dribble, that looked like a selfish "I haven't got any shots up today so I'm jacking this no matter what" type of play. Still, his size and defensive versatility give him the ability to guard 4 spots, so he is probably the 8th guy. 

Mcgee- See above about PG. I think his ceiling is he plays 4 minutes a half to get Chucky a rest, but it's also possible they let others play point and he only gets spot duty. 

Hodges- I had hoped (based on nothing) that he would be able to play since there is no frontcourt depth. I think he was the 11th guy off the bench in the first half, and was still on the court with the walkons to close out the game, so that is not promising. When he was in, he did some good things, but it seems likely he does not play much unless fouls/injuries require it. 

Ilver- He does have some smoothness to him but I can't help but think Van Vliet. Totally unfair to him, but it keeps popping in my head. He also did some nice things when on the floor, but was also out there with the walkons at the end of the game. 

Lindsey- Never know, but I doubt he gets of the bench except garbage time.