This team has the potential to be a GREAT passing team. When they don't put the ball on the floor and look for the open cutter, they are dangerous. Early on a lot of guys were jacking up shots, but that was quickly remedied and the offense improved greatly.
While Marcus Williams and Chase Budinger get all of the headlines, it is Ivan Radenovic who is the glue of the team. He is not as flashy or exciting, but he is the most well rounded player on the team. He's not the same player, but there are a lot of similarities to him and Luke Walton.
Have you seen a subtle shift in Marcus Williams' game? Sure he was a perfect 4-4 from behind the arc, but how many times was he sneaking down low or cutting to the basket? Unlike the seniors last year, Williams has quickly figured out that he'll score a lot more points, and impress NBA scouts, if he has a well rounded game and not transform into a guy who launches it from the outside.
For a minute in the first half it looked like Jordan Hill had solidified his spot as the team's first big man off the bench. He came into the game, blocked a shot, altered a second and scored on a nice hook shot. Then he did not return until the end of the game. He still has a lot to learn, but it is apparent that the raw physical tools are there.
Bret Brielmaier ended up being Lute's option off the bench in the post. He played an "invisible" 15 minutes. He did not make any mistakes other than an iffy shot. He had three rebounds and no turnovers. Brielmaier won't win you a game but as long as he does not hurt the team he'll play.
Daniel Dillon looks to be the team's sixth man, at least for now. Knocking down the two early threes was nice. You'd like to see him rebound and dish out more assists, but if he can be the guy who comes off the bench, play 10-15 solid minutes and nail the wide open shot, the Cats will be much better. They don't need a sparkplug off the bench, but they need consistency.
Is everyone as intrigued by the zone as I am? I know it is a stopgap measure until the guys figure out how to play man-to-man consistently…or is it? With their length, height and lack of a true center, this could just be the defense to make them dangerous. The zone forces teams into shooting from the outside. It limits dribble penetration and could keep the starting five fresh until the bench develops more.
Speaking of bench play, is it me or does it looks like Olson is taking an extra interest in Fendi Onobun. He only played two minutes, but when he was on the floor Olson was giving him a lot of extra coaching and when he left the floor Lute pulled him aside for some extra attention. I get the feeling that they would love to get him up to speed at the four and take advantage of his strength and athleticism.
I've almost convinced myself that the Wildcats can be a great rebounding team without a true center. Although you'd love a Channing Frye type inside, the team is so tall and athletic on the wing that it may not matter. There are a ton of teams who board better at the four and five slots, but few teams have the potential to rebound as well 1-5.