Southern Miss basketball has gotten underway, here are some observations on the start of the season

Taking an inside look at USM basketball..

The fellas went after it hard for two hours at Reed Green coliseum Thursday morning. The mood was very business like. Coach Doc Sadler finally has the luxury of 14 healthy bodies to practice with. He can now go five on five with good competition, and more importantly there are enough bodies for subbing allowing Sadler to push his players much harder. The two hours I was there was non stop working transition offense and defense.

Clarence Weatherspoon could be heard teaching the post players about being physical and efficient in the paint, as well as positioning down on the block defensively. Weatherspoon was visibly displeased with his chargers retention and sometimes effort. Spoon is pushing the post players hard, and should help develop a position that has not really been a strong point during the Sadler's brief tenure.

The squad broke up into a black and gold teams. They then worked half court movement and spacing. Spacing is one of the keys of Sadler's offensive scheme. Five guys not only need to know where to be, but also how to pull their defender out of a play through movement. During this time they also worked a ton of the ball screen game. So much of what they do offensively works off of screen and handoff, which work like screens, working a lot of two man game concepts. All the screens really put added pressure on a defender. Being able to move in this system is a must. Post players have to be able to roll down on the blocks, as well as get up high and set screens. The vets knew what they were doing, but some of the younger guys are still finding there way. This is a very structured set up.

This was my first look at newcomers Domonic Magee 6-4 190 out of Harvey La. and Tyree Griffen 5-10 165 New Orleans by way of Oklahoma state. Magee was four star recruit and second rated player coming out of the state of Louisiana when he signed with Memphis. The sweet shooting lefty redshirted at Memphis before transferring to Grand Canyon CC. Magee is a big, athletic guard that can shoot, as well as slash to the basket. He looks to be a legitimate scorer. The diminutive Griffen is lightening in a bottle, as he seems to fly around the court at another speed. Griffen has extremely quick hands and will pick your pocket in a heart beat. Tyree looks like a complete point guard. He can put tremendous pressure on a defense in transition with his speed, and shows great court vision when passing. The little man can also shoot the three. He is the heir apparent at point guard for the 17-18 season. While both of these impressive transfers have to sit this season per transfer rules, they both provide some serious competition during practice that can only make our squad more competitive.

A newcomer that appears to be ready to help the team this season is #13 Guard/forward Bilal Abdur-Rahim.6-7 200 Colby CC. Bilal prepped at Marietta high. A high school program that year in and out is considered one of the top high school programs in the country. His older brother Sharif played at California and 13 season in the NBA. Bilal brings a lot to the table. He can score it off of the dribble, as well as defend. He also showed he can rebound, doing some nice work in the paint this morning. I see him as a serious contender for a number six guy coming off the bench for valuable minutes this season.

It appears that last years point guard Khari Price may be limited this season in terms of playing time. He is still dealing with knee issues that has plagued him most of his career. He was not at practice today. In his stead, was Kevin Holland who redshirted last season. In the event Khari Price can't go, Holland looks to get most of the playing time at the point this season for the Eagles. Holland has added some size and strength since his freshman campaign and appears poised to lead the Southern Miss attack.

Combo guard Robert Thomas 6-0 190 So. was impressive today shooting the basketball, burying several threes. Forward Rhaheem Watts 6-7 218 appears poised for a strong senior campaign. He showed a nice touch from outside and added a nice physical presence in the paint. He is the perfect blend of size and speed for this up tempo, movement oriented offense.

Michael Ramey 6-5 190 has added some size from last season and appears poised to give the Eagles another legitimate threat from behind the arc. The added bulk should help Ramey to be a little more physical defensively.

I was really pleased to see a healthy Eddie Davis 6-7 225. He is down about 20 pounds from last season. Davis could be a real asset defensively with his size, as well as offensively, as he possesses one of the prettiest strokes on the team. The kid can shoot it. Here is hoping Davis can get through an entire season without an injury.

I think this team can take a step forward this season. Obviously having a full roster to work with gives Doc a few more options than he has had in the past. With a full compliment of able bodies, coach Sadler can finally practice as hard as he wants to without the concern of wearing his squad down. They really got after it this morning. I hope to provide you guys with coverage from a scrimmage in the near future.

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