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JwgreDeux

Mercer Preview

19 posts in this topic

The prodigal son arrives and will likely begin his AU career with a triple double. You can stop there if you expect that to happen, as the rest of this preview may not be as dreamy as you prefer. 

This is the second game in our stretch of four games in nine days, but the first with highly recruited 5 start center Austin Wiley. Auburn is coming off a offensive explosion, setting records from the three point line with 21 made threes, some of which came from near Toomers. Mercer comes in at 5-5 overall needing a win in the worst way, losing 4 of their last 5, and by 40 in their last outing against Clemson. 

Despite their record, Mercer brings in a team that is ranked higher in RPI (122) and by most metrics than our last two opponents (yes higher than the BC team that beat us). That is primarily due to their difficult schedule rather than to any impressive wins, as they don't have any. That being said, their loss to Clemson by 40 was similar to what we did to CC,  Clemson shot nearly 47% from three and Mercer shot 26%, and the game got away from them. Mercer is still a worthy opponent, and given all the moving parts on our roster right now, we cannot afford to look past them. They don't score many points (62 per gm) or shoot a high percentage, but they do offensive rebound well, and tend to play better in the second half than the first. Having played Florida, Davidson and Clemson, they won't be intimated by our venue or team and are desperate for a win; I would expect to get their best shot especially early in the game. 

Auburn will likely be without Brown and Spencer again, unless something changes in the next 24 hours, and will again be looking at shuffling our lineup to make up for it. That will be further complicated by the addition of Austin Wiley, a highly touted 5 star center who is faster than a speeding bullet and can leap buildings in a single....oh wait I was reading the wrong recruit's page. In all seriousness, while he is no doubt a huge talent in many ways, you don't just throw a player on the court after a few practices and have instant chemistry, you don't expect to at least. I would expect CBP to insert him in the game in a deliberate manor. I'm not sure how many minutes he will play, but he didn't come in early to sit on the bench, and this is the only game we have left against inferior talent this season. I would project 10-12 minutes if the game is going well, less if it isn't, with some deliberate sets with him getting the ball in the post and some high pick and rolls. The sets he is ready to run will be limited, but the potential effect on our half court sets could be dramatic in many ways, floor spacing, inside/out movement, and offensive rebounding could improve almost immediately, even if he doesn't play like superman. His size will command attention from the opposing defense, period. With Spencer out, I would think the optimal plan would be to slide Wiley into Smith's spot in the rotation, but I would be a bit surprised to see that happen early in the game. Maybe we work off of the rotation we used vs Coastal early and if we get a decent cushion, we move towards our standard rotation with Smith in Spencer's role and Wiley in Smiths, just a shot in the dark.

The Vegas line of this game is not out at the time of this preview. That line should be in the ballpark of 13 in my opinion, but I imagine the odds-makers expect some tweaking of the lineup as well, and production may suffer as a result, so I wouldn't be surprised with an unusual line (maybe no line at all).

Don't be alarmed if there are struggles, miscommunications, or other signs of regression due to the alteration in team chemistry. Losing two starters, having a transfer out, and a transfer in all in one week is quite the shake up. CBP will be put to the test as he tries to navigate this over the next few games. 

This is a game we should win, a game we must win to keep all of our goals in front of us. As tempting as it may be to get Wiley in there, we have to win first. This may sound strange, but experimenting vs Oklahoma may be a better way to go, as a loss there doesn't hurt us, and a win would really help. In other words in that game we will have nothing to lose, where as in this game we have nothing to gain. 

Auburn is the better team without Wiley, with him we have more talent than any Mercer team could hope for, this game is about watching how CBP manages it. He has known about WIley's planned arrival for some time, and I'm sure he has a plan for this moment as well. 

Sunday 12pm on the SECn. Go get'em boys, War Eagle. 

Edited by JwgreDeux
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I always enjoy and appreciate your posts!  Thanks for doing this for us!

BTW, I did not know that AW was lost at one point (re: the prodigal son statement).  Was he originally committed to another school?

Thanks again

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1 hour ago, Mike4AU said:

I always enjoy and appreciate your posts!  Thanks for doing this for us!

BTW, I did not know that AW was lost at one point (re: the prodigal son statement).  Was he originally committed to another school?

Thanks again

Not to my knowledge. I don't follow recruiting particularly close. I was making a joke as his "return" date wasn't really known, and now he is "home." Also, alluding to the fact that a lot of people are ready to throw a party right now before we get a sense of how this will all shake out. 

Edited by JwgreDeux

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1 hour ago, JwgreDeux said:

Not to my knowledge. I don't follow recruiting particularly close. I was making a joke as his "return" date wasn't really known, and now he is "home." Also, alluding to the fact that a lot of people are ready to throw a party right now before we get a sense of how this will all shake out. 

Just want to make sure this piece was approved by C256 before I spend any time on it ?  

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12 minutes ago, AU64 said:

Just want to make sure this piece was approved by C256 before I spend any time on it ?  

Mr objective and non snarky.....in action. Don't worry about me you two got it covered.  Shoot better, players don't listen, pearl disappointed....I got you

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Good stuff from the Professor as expected. Coach Pearl says that he is "extremely excited" about Wiley joining the team so let's see how this plays out. In his first game with us. Fortunately for AU, Mercer does not have the big man that can be our undoing. So, I see Wiley immediately helping out on the boards and boxing out. Let's do this!

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6 hours ago, cole256 said:

Mr objective and non snarky.....in action. Don't worry about me you two got it covered.  Shoot better, players don't listen, pearl disappointed....I got you

Couldn't agree more. 

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7 hours ago, cole256 said:

Wiley will help out with that.....

Cole, in the games I have seen, it seems to me that when Spencer, or another big, has established position on the block, our guards seem hesitant pass down to them. I have hardly seen any. So I have a couple questions for you. 1. Do you think that it is a symptom of the system we run? Or 2. Do we not trust our bigs down low? Also, do you see Wiley's presence changing this trend?

I believe if we can utilize our bigs a little better and be able to work inside out it would open a lot more shots for our shooters as well as creating better driving lanes for our guards. What do you think?

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37 minutes ago, Piketiger1990 said:

Can a player like Wiley go pro after this season? 

I think he can per the rules. If he will or not I can't say. Personally i wouldn't expect it at this point. But we'll see how he does as the season goes along

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1 hour ago, gravejd said:

I think he can per the rules. If he will or not I can't say. Personally i wouldn't expect it at this point. But we'll see how he does as the season goes along

I don't think he can because after this season, he won't be one year removed from high school. He's going to have to stay for 1-1/2 years, which just sweetens the deal for both parties. Going into his 'freshman' year, he'll already have 1/2 season under his belt.

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2 hours ago, bigbird said:

Cole, in the games I have seen, it seems to me that when Spencer, or another big, has established position on the block, our guards seem hesitant pass down to them. I have hardly seen any. So I have a couple questions for you. 1. Do you think that it is a symptom of the system we run? Or 2. Do we not trust our bigs down low? Also, do you see Wiley's presence changing this trend?

I believe if we can utilize our bigs a little better and be able to work inside out it would open a lot more shots for our shooters as well as creating better driving lanes for our guards. What do you think?

Here's what I think. It may be a little long winded but we're going to dive a little deeper in this basketball stuff. I think when BP moved Cim to more of a perimeter role it hurt the development of our guards. We were VERY close to having a very difficult team to play against. We had a roster with versatile big men. Mainly with cim and Tyler Harris. They could face up so well that we tried exotic things with them. I don't know if you remember but when BP first started moving Cim out I said he was trying to mimic golden st, then that summer I did one of my told you so posts in an article he literally said that what he was trying to do.

Anyway from that we have guards that literally haven't been taught how to run offense through a big man in the post because we haven't had any that has been a threat to score. Also if you look at the background of the guys coming out of high school they didn't have them there either, offense in high school was run through them. Now things are lacking, not only how to make things such as nice entry passes but also WHEN to, or just because a guy is there doesn't mean he's necessarily not open. 

But yes also if you see a guy can't score, can't catch in practice you're not passing it to him in a game.

Lastly our shooters aren't play makers whatsoever. I mean not at all. That severely handicap your offense. You can have one out there when you have other guys to pick up the slack, but people love to bring up Villanova can do it....well they wouldn't be able to do so without a versatile big man (hit the 3 for them to win) and ALL the guards being versatile in ALL areas. We don't have that.

So IMO on here people just look at the logistics. They have two 6-5 guys and so do we.....these two players can be SOOOO different in what they offer. You can't say that. It's impossible. They can have a 6-5 guy who is extremely physical and a fantastic rebounder.....we have a 6-7 guy like Lang who is NOT physical, is not a rebounder, isn't physically strong, he's a shooter....he's not a mismatch. But if you try to do basketball on paper you try to work it in your head when it's not feasible really.

Then there is always the anomaly guy. Well Barkley was 6-5, LeBron is a 6-8 point guard, Russell Westbrook gets a triple double every night.....yes you have special players every blue moon and most times they have to develop too.  So we have talent on the roster but we're far from a team that just supposed to show up and win. But I'm going off tangent...

Minus, Herron, dunnans, Purifoy and Harper everybody else needs help to score. Also most need help on defense as well, but that's a whole different discussion I can have another day. 

Hopefully Wiley will be as good as we hope but if nothing else his size helps period. Other things like him having good hands don't have to be questioned. You see he has them, period. So that right there helps with teams that will use zone on us. Rim protector that right there helps immediately. No question. Helps with rebounding, which helps start transition, which helps us because we're lacking on half court offense. 

I have alot more I could add but this here is already too long

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I feel like the op sort of joked about Wiley as far as expectations, which I somewhat get because I actually wrote something similar in the summer as far as Purifoy expectations, but I think this game showed my points I was making. Right off the street, Wiley isn't conditioned yet and haven't established chemistry yet but he effected the game big time. He doesn't even know the plays and concept yet but he defended the rim and drew fouls. I wrote in another post some things you can know will translate immediately. Size, good hands. 

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Haven't checked all our incoming players but I believe that Wiley was the best prepared incoming freshmen we have ever had....played in the 17U international tournament against some of the best young talent in the world...and handled it pretty well....and probably learned a lot practicing and playing against other big talented guys.  

I looked over the rosters of most of the important teams and about every team had some guys approaching 7 feet and I expect some of the better players will be in professional basketball this year or next in their own countries. 

Just saying....Wiley has been in much more pressure packed situations during that tournament than his opening day at AU.   Aside from being 6'-11 or whatever, he is not your ordinary incoming 5* freshman and is quite ready for AU. JMO

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i was impressed with wiley.  the mercer center was giving it to wiley, physically.  even got a foul called on him for it.  i wonder if wiley has ever had that much physical contact in a game ... the sec big men certainly will.  i did not expect wiley to handle it as well as he did.  inside his first couple of minutes he received an inside pass and turned it into points, altered a shot on the D side and then made a nice jumping/baby hook (or whatever you want to call that shot).  

He missed a couple of shots that i bet he doesn't miss in the future.  i thought a couple of times he could have gone up stronger with the ball, but conversely he used his strength to get one rebound away from a defender and turned it into a basket that i dont think spencer or smith would have.

i thought the O was a little unsettled when he was in the game because I am not sure they quite know how to include him.  i would assume that will be an up and down improvement over the course of the season.  may be phenomenal results in a few weeks.  

I bet spencer plays some at the 4 with wiley in the game ... and i bet spencer plays very very very well with tons of energy.  mclemore's energy/athleticism and wileys presence are going to make smith/spencer elevate their games or lose time.  everybody is going to improve assuming they figure out how to play together.

btw, i'll pat myself on the back a little for calling johnson and harper on the court at the same time.  johnson did not make his baskets going to the rim ... but those shots were there.

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On 12/18/2016 at 10:13 AM, cole256 said:

Here's what I think. It may be a little long winded but we're going to dive a little deeper in this basketball stuff. I think when BP moved Cim to more of a perimeter role it hurt the development of our guards. We were VERY close to having a very difficult team to play against. We had a roster with versatile big men. Mainly with cim and Tyler Harris. They could face up so well that we tried exotic things with them. I don't know if you remember but when BP first started moving Cim out I said he was trying to mimic golden st, then that summer I did one of my told you so posts in an article he literally said that what he was trying to do.

Anyway from that we have guards that literally haven't been taught how to run offense through a big man in the post because we haven't had any that has been a threat to score. Also if you look at the background of the guys coming out of high school they didn't have them there either, offense in high school was run through them. Now things are lacking, not only how to make things such as nice entry passes but also WHEN to, or just because a guy is there doesn't mean he's necessarily not open. 

But yes also if you see a guy can't score, can't catch in practice you're not passing it to him in a game.

Lastly our shooters aren't play makers whatsoever. I mean not at all. That severely handicap your offense. You can have one out there when you have other guys to pick up the slack, but people love to bring up Villanova can do it....well they wouldn't be able to do so without a versatile big man (hit the 3 for them to win) and ALL the guards being versatile in ALL areas. We don't have that.

So IMO on here people just look at the logistics. They have two 6-5 guys and so do we.....these two players can be SOOOO different in what they offer. You can't say that. It's impossible. They can have a 6-5 guy who is extremely physical and a fantastic rebounder.....we have a 6-7 guy like Lang who is NOT physical, is not a rebounder, isn't physically strong, he's a shooter....he's not a mismatch. But if you try to do basketball on paper you try to work it in your head when it's not feasible really.

Then there is always the anomaly guy. Well Barkley was 6-5, LeBron is a 6-8 point guard, Russell Westbrook gets a triple double every night.....yes you have special players every blue moon and most times they have to develop too.  So we have talent on the roster but we're far from a team that just supposed to show up and win. But I'm going off tangent...

Minus, Herron, dunnans, Purifoy and Harper everybody else needs help to score. Also most need help on defense as well, but that's a whole different discussion I can have another day. 

Hopefully Wiley will be as good as we hope but if nothing else his size helps period. Other things like him having good hands don't have to be questioned. You see he has them, period. So that right there helps with teams that will use zone on us. Rim protector that right there helps immediately. No question. Helps with rebounding, which helps start transition, which helps us because we're lacking on half court offense. 

I have alot more I could add but this here is already too long

Coach Bruce Pearl's quote a day after I wrote this

Our guys have never looked in there all year. So my job is to now teach them to look in there a little bit,” Pearl said of passing into the post.

Edited by cole256

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I didn't realize there was a knock on Pearl regarding a supposed "inability" to coach big men. Well, I'm sure glad he has an opportunity to prove those naysayers wrong with a beast like Wiley down low for us.

 

I am giddy thinking about how our outside game can improve with Wiley demanding attention down low. 

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