There were a few more exhibition games last night to whet our appetite before the real games begin on Friday. We’ll start in Charleston, where EIU put up 85 points beating the University of St. Francis. What’s interesting is where those points came from: double-digit nights from Chris Olivier, Reggie Smith, LeTrell Viser, and Keenen Anderson. The first two are expected. The latter two — less so.
I say it everytime I write about exhibition games — it’s easy to overreact. The University of St. Francis isn’t exactly Duke. But there’s one thing I’m looking for out of the Panthers in the first month: depth. Can they go, regularly, seven or eight deep without a big dropoff. Last year, they couldn’t, at least not consistently. If guys like Viser, Keenan and Trae Anderson can give the Panthers more support off the bench (although I am kind of curious is Josh Piper is long for a starting spot…) — this team may be competitive across the conference.
And again — don’t overreact to the slow start by EIU, trailing 18-6 at one point, or St. Francis rather efficient 38.5% three-point shooting for the game. Based on a cursory look over their last three box scores, three-point shooting is kind of their thing.
Here’s the thing, Jacksonville State: there’s not a lot of reason to give you the benefit of the doubt about your shooting, given your history of not being an offensive powerhouse. So, shooting 41% in an exhibition game against Columbus State doesn’t exactly ring confidence.
Again, exhibition. Take it with a grain of salt.
Here’s the really good news for their offense, though: 18 assists. This isn’t a team with a superstar. You could argue, although I’d disagree, this isn’t a team with any kind of star. (Darion Rackley is a great player, I’m convinced) Team play is going to be a requirement, and the points will be shared, there’s little question about that. That’s what I want to see in early games — how well the Gamecocks play as a team. JSU was also really good at the free-throw line, which is one of those thing where the opponent doesn’t really matter all that much.
I threw this out in a tweet yesterday — but it’s worth mentioning here: According to WPSD Local 6, it’s unlikely Tyler Rambo‘s academic issue at Murray State is cleared up in time for him to play this Friday when the Racers host American conference opponent Houston. We were told last week by head coach Steve Prohm that the problem is administrative — nothing that Rambo did. He hoped to have it cleared up by today, but it appears that’s not going to happen.
Depth is a bit of an issue for Murray right now. Jonathan Fairell is still nursing his weird, never-bef0re-seen hip injury. Murray is already two scholarships short — meaning they’ll dress nine scholarship guys on Friday. Rambo averaged 16-minutes a game last year, and he didn’t fill the stat sheet, he was a great spell guy to give others some rest. It’s just one game, it sounds like Rambo will be back much sooner than later, but Murray’s starting off the season much more shorthanded than I’m sure they’d like.