It’s been business as usual through three game sunder Tim Jankovich at SMU during Larry Brown’s suspension.
The Mustangs are playing, hard, they are playing together, and they are having fun. And it would make LB happy to know that, yes; they are also defending and rebounding at times.
This team is working so well right now and every single piece is meshing perfectly. Jordan Tolbert has spent enough time practicing with the team that his cohesiveness makes sense, but the freshman haven’t had that same amount of time.
And when Sterling Brown and Nic Moore got into foul trouble, they stepped in and that SMU basketball machine kept right on humming.
Watching Jankovich use every single weapon over these first three games has been amazing. SMU has so many unique pieces and can roll out so many lineups that they can lineup against almost any team’s playing style.
Sunday night, Yale’s defense was softer (and shorter) in the frontcourt and SMU took advantage—outscoring the Bulldogs 48-16 in the paint, but did struggle with rebounding at times when the Mustangs were in zone.
It was nice seeing SMU make that kind of adjustment to an opponent’s weakness and by the time the second half rolled around, SMU had turned Moody into lob city.
Tolbert led the team with 17 points and snagged six rebounds, and looked the best he has all season. Markus Kennedy wasn’t too far behind him and recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points, 13 boards, four assists and one block.
It’s amazing what he can do when he isn’t in foul trouble.
And as good as Kennedy and Tolbert were, we probably aren’t having the same conversation if Sterling Brown didn’t go off in the middle of the second half. With SMU down by eight, Brown went on a 9-3 to close Yale’s lead to just two points with 12:34 left to play.
Again, the best part about this team so far is its versatility—anyone could step up and lead the team at any given moment.
SMU had five players score 10+ points on Sunday. That makes three straight games SMU has had four players or more score in double figures. And against Yale, the older guys did the heavy lifting.
We haven’t even begun to see everything the freshmen have to offer, let alone the rest of the team and we haven’t even thrown Semi Ojeleye into the mix yet.
Jankovich is doing a standup job on his own—imagine what he and LB can do with this team.
I said it last time, either this early success is making you feel better about those sanctions…or your like me and it’s making you feel worse.
The deeper we get into this season, the better the freshmen are going to get and the more comfortable guys like Tolbert and Ojeleye are going to be.
This team is going to be dangerously fun to watch down the stretch…and with not a lot to play for that’s really kind of sad.