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Zips Basketball- Looking Back to 21-22/Looking Forward to 22-23


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Starting up this one to give us a discussion point for the off-season.

 

Hopefully, the transfer portal will not take away any of our established core but you can never tell given the transient nature of current college athletics and the impetuousness of college age males.  Certainly, a MAC championship and a NCAA tourney berth should help to retain and attract new talent.  We'll also have the red-shirted freshmen and Kalle on board.

 

Groce and staff can have today off to get back from Portland but next season starts tomorrow!

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Beating UCLA would have been perfect, but for nine years we've been living with that 46 point defeat to VCU which was direct result of a drug dealing point guard.  Last night officially ended that ugly chapter in Zips basketball.

 

We saw from our friends in Nelsonville that NCAA success can be fleeting.  Buffalo's sustained success over 4 years also is in the rear view mirror.  

 

I know our coaches are focused on March but having to fight off a 3 or 4 seed every year is brutal if lucky enough to get there.

 

And let's not forget the good luck, Segu's 3 pointer a little to the right and we would be in misery these days.

 

 

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I would imagine any departures would be announced sooner rather than later?

 

Any predictions on if there's a starting lineup change with redshirt guards, Prather, and Tavari? Do we redshirt either of the latter? 

 

Kalle and maybe one of the redshirt guards are the only departure candidates in my eyes. I could see Groce wanting to get Freeman/Aziz more developed help in the front court, and the guard position is all of a sudden a log jam. 

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two non-entity Toledo guys entered the portal along with a couple guys (notably Sparks) from Ball State and two from whatever is left on the BG squad.

Surprisingly, White and Artis are still at Western.

 

@Let'sGoZips94 I'm not an Aziz fan.  Do we think he can improve that much?

 

Edited by NWAkron
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7 minutes ago, NWAkron said:

two non-entity Toledo guys entered the portal along with a couple guys (notably Sparks) from Ball State and two from whatever is left on the BG squad.

Surprisingly, White and Artis are still at Western.

 

@Let'sGoZips94 I'm not an Aziz fan.  Do we think he can improve that much?

 

 

Aziz is arguably better than Zeke was his freshman year. Zeke had more opportunity to play than Aziz. Groce and his staff have already shown they can develop bigs as well if not better than Dambrot & co. Aziz has really only been in the States for a little over a year. He is raw but has a nice foundation of skills and understanding. Fully expect him to get stronger and more decisive. Kalle is the odd man out in the front court unless he takes a significant leap. 

Edited by Let'sGoZips94
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There are two aspects that stick out to me this offseason:

1) Do we utilize the transfer portal, and if so how? Messing with the 8 man rotation is a gamble. In addition, how much more room can we realistically have in the rotation, 1 player? You'd hope Kalle, one of the redshirt freshman, or one of the incoming freshman could fill whatever need(s) you think you have going into next season. Not to mention everyone on the team should continue to at least make incremental improvements.

 

2) How can we best position ourselves to get an at-large bid so that the entire season and chance to build on success doesn't come down to 3 days in Cleveland? The Cayman Island Classic is a good start, but you probably want 1 or 2 additional chances against average or better P5 programs and 1 or 2 chances against better mid-major programs. Losses to those types won't hurt near as much as a loss to App St, and wins are selling points for at-larges. Win some of those challenging games, perform like you need to in conference play, and you might have a chance if you slip up in Cleveland.

 

Toledo and Kent should continue to be tough and I would expect Ohio to compete with Sears, Boals, and whatever additions they bring. I'd think Buffalo is looking a decent drop off with Segu, Mballa, and Williams gone I believe.

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17 minutes ago, Z.I.P. said:

What's The Story With Seny?  Will he and Banda-O-go be teammates next season?  And knowing whether Kalle is still a freshman next season (I think he WILL be) would help clarify things.

 

https://wvsportsnow.com/wvu-forward-seny-ndiaye-enters-transfer-portal/

 

Here you go @Blue & Gold@NWAkron

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Z.I.P. said:

What's The Story With Seny?  Will he and Banda-O-go be teammates next season?  And knowing whether Kalle is still a freshman next season (I think he WILL be) would help clarify things.

 

https://wvsportsnow.com/wvu-forward-seny-ndiaye-enters-transfer-portal/

 

He'd be a 7 footer in the MAC.  As long he's not Khadim Gueye or Mark Kostelac he'd be fine.

Edited by clarkwgriswold
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1 hour ago, Let'sGoZips94 said:

I would imagine any departures would be announced sooner rather than later?

 

Any predictions on if there's a starting lineup change with redshirt guards, Prather, and Tavari? Do we redshirt either of the latter? 

 

Kalle and maybe one of the redshirt guards are the only departure candidates in my eyes. I could see Groce wanting to get Freeman/Aziz more developed help in the front court, and the guard position is all of a sudden a log jam. 

 

This is the fun stuff for me. It doesn't mean it's right, just fun. We have seen how much the roster can change depending on a single players development. I personally hope Tavari Johnson is leading the team by the post season next year and that Aziz becomes a starter by conference play. I think the only one that might be a red shirt candidate next year is Prather Jr. And the only one that could lose their position to a transfer upgrade is Wynn. Although Wynn has grown on me and has found himself a niche. For me, the wild card is just how fast does Tavari Johnson develop.

 

Early Season Starting Line Up:

 

1. X / Clarke / Tavari Johnson

2. Tribble / X / Kobi Mitchell

3. Dawson / Ali / Nate Johnson

4. Ali / Freeman / Wynn / Kalle

5. Freeman / Aziz / Wynn

 

 

Post Season Starting Line Up:

 

1. Tavari Johnson / Clarke / X

2. X / Tribble / Clarke / Kobi Mitchell

3. Ali / Dawson / Tribble / Nate Johnson

4. Freeman / Ali / Kalle / Wynn

5. Aziz / Freeman / Kalle / Wynn

 

 

Alternative Small / Running Line Up:

 

1. Tavari Johnson / Clarke 

2. X /  Kobi Mitchell

3. Tribble / Nate Johnson

4. Dawson / Wynn

5. Ali / Freeman

 

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, zippy5 said:

I think we're a Cheatham/Xeyrius type guy away from being really really good. Along with an extra guard or two which I'm hopeful we have in place with the recruiting class and redshirts this year

 

Ali Ali is that Cheatham/X type guy. If Freeman develops a jump shot, look out.

 

Where we lack is the guard depth which should be solved. I'd like one more PF/C, whether that's Kalle developing or a transfer. We need someone to spell Aziz & Freeman who is a net positive. 

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This might be a bit of a "too soon" hot take. Wynn was the ultimate teammate throughout the year, sticking it out to ultimately have a big role in a championship team. But he didn't provide much more than a warm body on the floor. I'm eyeing that as the spot we can see a big upgrade next year

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1 minute ago, zippy5 said:

Nah. Ali is a guard imo. He has a bit of a post skill set when he has a mismatch and can back down another guard. But he's not a 4

 

I understand, because of his lack of size and strength. Ali needs to have a big off-season in the weight room because Groce likes to use his wing (SF) as a center on his running line-up.

 

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6 minutes ago, zippy5 said:

Nah. Ali is a guard imo. He has a bit of a post skill set when he has a mismatch and can back down another guard. But he's not a 4

 

Ali thinks he's a guard, at least due to our lack of depth at the position, which is what directly led to many of his struggles. Add scorers around him, and his role is vastly different, which would be more of the 4/X1.0 role. 

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We'll agree to disagree. His greatest strengths aren't really forward skillsets imo, and I don't think his future will be as a PF at the next level, so I don't see him transitioning to more of a forward role here. Also, having a 2/3 man with his length is a huge problem in the MAC

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11 minutes ago, zippy5 said:

We'll agree to disagree. His greatest strengths aren't really forward skillsets imo, and I don't think his future will be as a PF at the next level, so I don't see him transitioning to more of a forward role here. Also, having a 2/3 man with his length is a huge problem in the MAC

 

He's definitely not a PF, but a stretch 4 like X wasn't a PF either. Their games are incredibly similar, but Ali can probably handle the ball a bit better. Kevin Durant is a stretch 4, and he's not a PF. That's my point. I think we'll see him more off the ball next year which will help him immensely. If we add scorers, it should open up the game for him. 

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X was a 4 to the extent that he could really pull down rebounds, at a rate of nearly 9 a game.  He could also play down low when needed.

 

Ali is a 3.  He's never going to have the mass to play in the post if needed and his ball skills aren't those of a guard.  I hope he develops a little more patience and anticipation as he matures as a player.  Up to now he seems to make up his mind that he's going to try to score and there's no going back once he makes that decision.

 

I wouldn't worry about anyone getting displaced by a solid transfer.  You can't have enough good players.

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We should get an idea in the next few weeks what could happen with the transfer portal. Of course, things can change in there all the way through summer. But I’d assume in the next couple of weeks that the staff will have their exit interviews with everyone on the roster and ultimately 1-2 will be gone. As long as it isn’t X, Ali, Freeman, Dawson, Tribble, I think I could live with it. I’d love to keep everyone around, but repeating is the hardest thing to do in sports and when you’re the best, you still need to try to get better. 
 

With that said, I expect Wynn to be the one. While he fit in well with the rotation during this late season run, you could tell that he was pretty much just out there to take Aziz’ minutes as a threat that simply won’t turn the ball over and can catch. If I’m Wynn, do I want to spend my final year of college ball at the end of the bench for Akron after I was once an ACC recruit? Who knows. 
 

Tavari Johnson seems to have a lot of hype around him, so I expect him to compete for a spot in the rotation immediately. Mitchell and Johnson are sort of unknowns. Mitchell is a small town baller that can shoot (hopefully) and Johnson is a highly recruited combo guard. Again, both could play roles on this team, not sure how big. 
 

If we do end up going after a transfer, I would like a 3&D guy. Not sure if there is one in the portal or will be, but a Spencer Littleson/Channel Banks type is pretty much the biggest missing piece from the roster now. A true slasher/scorer is on the wish list as well, but I feel that Tribble can become that as he continues to refine his game further. If you do add a 3&D, even if off the bench, you add another critical piece that opponents will need to glue a defender to, while the three other All-MAC players are running around the floor for the Zips. In Groce we Trust!

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https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/player/_/id/4431956/noah-freidel

 

just hit the transfer portal.

 

I thought Wynn contributed more than Aziz.  I said to someone last night that Aziz did his part early in the first half when he came in for Freeman and didn't cause any damage.  When Aziz was in they had to keep that slow pace and not lose too much ground until Freeman came back in.  Is that the kind of contribution Groce and staff expect?  I wonder if Aziz was recruited before they knew what a star Freeman would be.  And playing them on the floor together was a plan that never worked out.

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First...Is Freeman actually taking up an athletic scholarship, or still a walk-on as TV stated?  If he has a full academic scholarship why does he take a bb scholarship?  Soccer hides kids on academic $$ all the time, though they have only 9.5 limit.

 

#2, Don't sleep on Sekou Sada Kalle.  He came in highly regarded, but weighing only 185 on a 6-10 frame.  He may just be waiting in the weight room.  From research, apparently he was offered by UCLA and Rutgers as a freshman or sophomore based on his relationships with NBA academy in Africa.  I have hope for this kid to team with Banda Ogo next season.  🤞

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3 minutes ago, Illini Zip said:

Freeman is now on athletic scholarship. As of this year I believe. You might be able to hide a member of your scout team on an academic scholarship, but your Defensive Player of the Year will likely draw attention. Just my guess.

My point was, TMK there's no rules violation in giving academic scholarships to athletes.  As I said our soccer team has starters who aren't on athletic scholarship.  Different sport, but could be same rules?  🤷‍♂️. Anyone? 

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