A few points I made mention to in the halftime-notes:
-Jeff Robinson's 3PT attempts. Honestly, I'm very surprised Willard is giving Robinson the green-light from long distance after last season. During halftime, I mentioned:
Bobby let him get away with it and JRob burned the team from deep with ugly attempts, I believe he was 3-of-18 for the season. I will need to fact check this later, but you get the drift. Robinson took another 3 3PT attempts, making one. He also took a long 2PT attempt with just a foot inside the line tonight. Look, Robinson has all the talent in the world when he plays around the basket and brings his jumper out to 15 feet. He could easily be the 2nd option on any given night if he keeps his game close to the rim, where he's a strong asset. That said, JRob shooting 3PT attempts was a problem last year under Gonzalez and it doesn't appear that Willard has fixed that yet. Why he remains so intent on becoming a 3PT shooter for this team, I have no idea.
Jeff finished with 11PTS/3REB on 5-of-11 FG and 1-of-4 3PT shooting in 17 minutes. The four 3PT attempts don't only hurt the team's offensive possessions, but it also takes JRob away from the rim where he could be banging away for offensive boards. He's got to finish with more than 3REB per game if the Pirates are going to compete this year. We need him in multiple facets of the game, 3PT shooting is not one of them.
Also, I touched on Keon's scratch, which Brendan Prunty insisted was a "coach's decision, nothing more, nothing less:"
@SOrangeJuice: We've been assured Keon's DNP is strictly coaches decision. Nothing more, nothing less. #shbb
But my question remains, what exactly is a healthy, coach's DNP? From my halftime notes:
If healthy, with only one exhibition on the schedule why would Keon Lawrence be held out with a coach's decision? This isn't a regular occurrence. You'd have to wonder whether Willard wasn't happy with Keon's play/practice habits leading up to the exhibition or if something happened off the court, leading to the benching. You hate to speculate, but it just doesn't add up.
Update 9:00PM: A caller on Hall Line just stated that the Okoloji/Lawrence scratch was a result of a fight in the cafeteria that transpired Thursday evening. Pre-game, I mentioned to Brendan Prunty and repeated at halftime, that a healthy "coach's decision" scratch just doesn't happen in the ONLY exhibition game of the season. It just doesn't happen. I also missed the name of that caller, but he also gave South Orange Juice a tremendous shout-out. Thanks, we appreciate that and we'll catch your name next time.
-The most impressive player on the floor tonight was Fuquan Edwin. The freshmen who will soon regularly be referred to on SOJ as 'FUQ'ED,' was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor to start, before finishing 7-of-9 for 15PTS/5REB/4STL in only 19 minutes. Can't wait to see this kid on the floor night in and night out.
-Jeremy Hazell didn't have a beautiful game offensively, shooting a poor 5-of-13 from the floor and 2-of-7 from long range, contributing 16PTS/3REB/2AST/0TO. A few positives to take from Jeremy's play tonight: his ability to take care of the ball, not turning the ball over once in his 22 minutes. Secondly, as the game got underway, he made it a point to differ to his teammates, something we didn't see much of last year. And his shot will improve, don't expect Haze to shoot 30% this season.
-Herb Pope had a double-double at halftime with 11PTS/10REB and finished with 16PTS/20REB/4AST/3TO, including 10 offensive rebounds, although Pope only shot 7-18 from the floor. The most important aspect from tonight's game -- Herb Pope is healthy. Forget basketball, the kid is healthy. Basketball is a nice afterthought.
-Newcomer Eniel Polynice played extremely well on the defensive end and finished his night with 8PTS/2REB/AST/STL in his 25 minutes. Most importantly, Polynice didn't hurt his team with poor shot selection, only attempting 4 shots from the field.
-JT came off the bench in what I assume was a ceremonial start for, "the senior," Eniel Polynice in Walsh Gymnasium and played 22 minutes, contributing 4PTS/12AST/5REB on 1-of-5 shooting.
Update 11/6 12:00AM: JT was benched for the start as he was late to a team meeting.
-Defensively, Willard's squad looked impressive in the first half where they displayed an extended look at a box-and-one set with JT chasing. There were a few defensive lapses in the first half where the Pioneers converted back-to-back easy fast-break finishes. JT should have more on this in his write-up.
-Ferrakohn Hall was impressive and HUGE. Physically huge. Man did Hall beef up. He finished with 13PTS/4REB/BLK in 20 minutes on 3-of-7 shooting.
More to come in JP's recap later tonight...