It is easy to dwell on last night's game, but we have to remember that we played three games down in Puerto Rico, not just one against West Virginia. Dayton and West Virginia were both good early season tests and we learned quite a bit about our team in these three games.
1. Daniel Hamilton is the real deal
There was a lot of hype heading into this season for Daniel Hamilton, and he has certainly been as good as advertised. Touted as a top recruit with NBA-ready abilities, Hamilton averaged 14.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG in Puerto Rico going up against top competition. Making the jump from high school to college can be challenging for some, and although it is early, Hamilton looks to be making the transition successfully. Obviously, his 8 turnovers against West Virginia is unacceptable and cannot happen again (it won't), but he still turned in a 15 point 9 rebound performance, shooting an efficient 6-10 from the field and 2-4 from three.
While sometimes Hamilton can be a little out of control, going at full speed almost all the time, he has shown that he can be an efficient scorer. The 6-7 wing went 16-27 from the field in three games including 8-12 from three. He proved that he can create his own shot at times while also being able to knock down an open three-pointer. Kevin Ollie seems to notice the talent he has with Hamilton as he played him more than 30 minutes in every game of the tournament. Look for this trend to continue throughout the season.
2. Amida Brimah needs to be more involved
Heading into the season, we heard a lot about how good Brimah was going to be on the offensive side of the floor. Obviously we are 4 games into the season, but in the half court sets, he has not been involved as much as he should be. He can score all day off alley-oops, but there were talks about how he has added a mid-range game to along with effective post moves, none of which we have much of this season. Against College of Charleston, I can remember at least four times we got to Brimah on the block, and 3 times he finished with a hook shot. He ended with 14 points that game. I'm not totally sure why we haven't done more of that.
While the first game of the tournament went well for Brimah, he was not able to produce offensively the same way against Dayton and West Virginia. He scored 6 points in both of those games, and did not even seem like he was involved offensively at all in either of them. We know what we are going to get defensively from Brimah with his shot-blocking, but the Huskies need him to be a game changer on offense in order for this team to reach its full potential. Texas will be a gigantic test for him going against freshman center Myles Turner, the number No. 2 ranked recruit from the Class of 2014.
3. Rodney Purvis is...
This was our first chance to watch transfer Rodney Purvis against Division 1 competition as he was suspended for the season opener against Bryant. It was an interesting three games for Purvis as it ended with a 0 point performance and an injured ankle against West Virginia in the tournament final. Purvis is obviously at his best when he attacks the hoop, but it is not something he always wants to do.
Against College of Charleston, he went 2-7 from the field and 2-6 from three. This means he shot one non three-pointer-- not good. In the semi-final against Dayton, Purvis went 8-15 from the field and 2-4 from three which means 6-9 on two pointers which is what he should be doing. Obviously he has the tools to be a fantastic player, but he does not seem to be a consistent shooter. And if you're not a consistent shooter, then you have to attack the basket which is something Purvis is extremely good at. This then begs the question, "Why don't you attack the hoop every time Rodney?" It is tough to say but it may be because he feels like we need a three-point shooter so he is trying to fill that void. The problem is that he isn't the type of player who should really be shooting 5+ threes a game so someone else is going to need to step up from behind the arc while he continues to attack. This leads me to my next point...
4. There is room on this team for Omar Calhoun
I probably love Omar Calhoun way more than I should, but he can actually help this team out immensely. He was one of our main three-point threats as a freshman, and while he only shot 32% from deep, teams respected him as a threat. Three-point shooting was a gigantic part of our offense last year and losing Shabazz Napier, Neils Giffey, and DeAndre Daniels hurts, but we are going to need someone to step up. As we all know, last year was about as bad as it could get for Omar, but to be fair, coming back from one hip surgery can be tough enough, let alone two.
He has yet to play this season with his sprained MCL and the suspension does not help, but there are minutes up for grabs when he returns if he can knock down a couple three-pointers a game to stretch the defense. Boatright will not have the luxury to catch and shoot threes as much as last year, and while Hamilton and Sam Cassell Jr. have the tools to be great shooters, they will still need time to develop as the season goes on. Purvis and Terrance Samuel are not natural shooters so we need them to keep attacking the hoop and creating for others. If Calhoun can defend and shoot somewhat consistently, he will find himself on the floor way more than a season ago.
5. We're Okay.
We played really poorly against West Virginia, maybe as bad as it will get this season. We went 3-17 from three, 9-18 from the free throw line, and committed 19 turnovers. You're just not going to win with stats like that. But, it's okay. This was one game on November 23rd and relevant games are a very, very long way away. Yes there were some concerns including how we will handle full court pressure, but there's nothing that can't be fixed. There was still a lot of good that came out of the trip to Puerto Rico.
Ryan Boatright was great all tournament. He did get somewhat flustered against West Virginia, but he ultimately handled it well finishing with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Overall in the tournament, the senior averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.3 APG, earning him a spot on the all-tournament team. His defense continues to impress, taking opposing teams point guards out of the game. Kentan Facey also looked fantastic all tournament, averaging 6.0 PPG and 5.7 RPG. If he can rebound, then he will play a ton and if he can score every now and then, then that is a great bonus. The sophomore played his best game in a Husky uniform in the finals, scoring 10 points with 8 rebounds in the loss.
Bob Huggins is a coach with over 700 wins on his resume and 2 Final Four appearances, so it's not like West Virginia was some below average team that we shouldn't have lost to. They were a very good team that has the chance to compete in the upper half of the Big 12. Now we have a chance to make a huge statement in our next game of the season: Sunday, November 30th against the nationally ranked Texas Longhorns at Gampel Pavillion.
LETS GO HUSKIES!!!