As we begin another basketball season, there are many questions to be answered. "What, this again?" "Can we see what else is on?" and so on. Here are a few of the bigger questions I have about this team:
1.) Will there be improvements at the defensive end? The quickest route to recovery for Mark Gottfried is shoring up the defensive end of the floor, and I'm not talking about turning this into a good defense, just one that's roughly league average. There's a lot of ground to be made up there because Lowe's defenses were just that bad. Certainly this news that the players on the team are practicing basketball is an encouraging sign.
2.) What about rebounding and tempo? Gottfried wants to speed things up, which of course he does. Every new coach says that at the beginning. It always helps when that's a change from what was going on beforehand. To Gottfried's credit, though, he has at least paid lip service to the specific task of defensive rebounding as a means for getting the pace he wants. That's more than we could say about the last five years. So he has identified one important factor in his desired makeover. That's step one. Now, can he make it show up on the court? I don't think this team is going to force a lot of turnovers, so improving on the defensive glass is the primary way they're going to create more transition opportunities.
3.) How long is that long way we have to go, anyway? Gottfried's been careful to keep expectations to a minimum, which is entirely justifiable. When Fran Fraschilla visited practice a few weeks back, he tweeted something to the effect that a lot of things would have to go right for this team to reach the NIT and everything would have to go right for this team to reach the NCAAs. Still, it's hard to look at the conference schedule and not think about the possibility of 8-9 wins. Granted, the offense is brand new, we have some unknown newcomers, and everyone who's been here has only occasionally been a part of what looked like a cohesive unit on the floor. But we've got some talented pieces, and if they do gel quickly... well, I don't know. But I'm excited to find out.