So, by popular demand I'm here to distribute minutes hopefully with a bit more rhyme and reason than Congress distributes TARP dollars. Instead of using closed bid formulas, political glad-handing, and Ponzi-like fraud, I'll go with some common sense projection, self-importance, and whimsy to be my guide. Allow me to be Czar of Texas basketball for a season, and this is how my squad's minutes shake out.
First, some assumptions. Dexter Pittman is better conditioned than he was last year, which seems to be the consensus going around the interwebs. J'Covan won't J'make it. Jordan Hamilton does. Shawn Williams redshirts after serving the president of his fanclub with a restraining order. And there aren't any significant injuries. I'll separate out the fall and spring semester to acknowledge Jai Lucas' arrival.
So here's my breakdown for the fall semester. My starting five is pretty predictable. I've got Balbay at the point, Bradley is my shooting guard, Hamilton is my 3, James is my 4 when he's really a 3 and a 1/2, Pittman is my 5. We're going to set the tone with this group and find out exactly how the opposition is going defend Pittman in our 4 out.
I also want to press and run a little bit, so I don't project many 40 minute nights by players. Damion James is the most likely candidate for 40 because he's experienced, the best conditioned, and poses the biggest mismatch on the floor when surrounded by the right personnel. I don't want Hamilton and Bradley to hit that freshman wall. And if so, I don't want the wall to last a month because they were playing 35 minutes per in December.
Here's the distribution.
Balbay.....20 Ward....10 Mason/Bradley...10
Balbay is going to run the show and get up in the opposing team's lead guard on defense. If the opposition zones or junks up their defense with some one man zone or a box and 1 on Hamilton, it'll force Balbay, Bradley, and James to hit from deep while minimizing Dexter. In that case I bring in Ward a bit earlier as the lead guard. A PG by a committee of Bradley, Ward, and Hamilton as a point forward should be sufficient to defeat pressure, and it will get teams out of their zone or junk real fucking quick.
Bradley....25 Ward....10 Mason...5
If Mason continues to be a non-factor from deep, cut these minutes in half. The junior year version of Mason can't be on the floor with Balbay because it gives teams so many more options defending Dex and the freshmen. We saw that movie last year. Bradley should get the bulk of the minutes here with Balbay on the floor, but Balbay's skillset doesn't mesh well with Avery's. One of the problems is Avery will be getting the other team's best on ball defender, but more on that in a minute. Out of this group, who will put the "shooting" in shooting guard on this club? Let's call them scoring guards for the time being.
I wanted to find a spot for Gary Johnson here, but until he can guard a perimeter player, I'll leave him at 4. Hamilton is going to be the workhorse at the position. He'll need to be the designated deep shooter, run some point forward, and guard opposing team's big skilled athletes. That's a lot to place on a freshman's plate. And for that reason, Hamilton is your beta on this team. Everyone else is pretty much a known quantity. James slides down to 3 when we need to go big or just get Jordan a blow. My 30 minute number for Jordan may be a bit ambitious, but Sailor Ripley put me in charge.
Hybrid Forward/Power Forward/Role Player
Damion James...20 Wangmene...10 Gary Johnson...10
Damion James obviously gets most of the minutes. Gary Johnson comes in to rest James. I'd give GJ more minutes alongside Dex at the 4 if Johnson ever becomes a competent post entry passer from the high post. GJ can shoot it from 15 and is too quick for most power forwards, but until he can enter the basketball, he's coming in to provide energy and rest for James.
Wangmene plays a role here alongside Pittman especially if the opponent runs a lot of double post and I need a pure post defender. Alexis will also be needed for his length for weakside help to elite fives that Dexter is working against.
Pittman...25 Wangmene...5 Chapman...10
It'll be Pittman's responsibility to stay away from silly fouls, but if his conditioning has indeed improved 25+ minutes a ballgame is a certainty. All-American honors and Lottery to follow. Wangmene and Chapman come in to rest the big fella. These two are ideal at the 5 if Texas wants to ratchet up the pressure and run.
Lucas...20 Balbay...15 Bradley/Ward...5
Balbay better be ready because Lucas is the perfect compliment to Bradley's skillset. Bradley wants to use his quickness and athleticism to get to the rack or punish teams with his elite midrange game. A non-shooter at the point guard spot stifles Avery's abilities to penetrate somewhat. Jai Lucas and his threat from beyond the arc will open up the floor for Bradley and that's why I think Jai gets the bulk of the minutes at the1. If Texas needs Balbay's on ball defense against elite point guards you adjust accordingly.
But back to the Bradley Lucas combo, think Mark Price and Bruce Dalrymple at Georgia Tech. An athletic shooting guard coupled with a superior shooting point guard. Just swap the talent base of each position. Avery's the NBA pro and Lucas is the good college player. They're peanut butter and jelly. Nice as rice and mello as jello.
Ward can sneak in at the 1 and steal minutes from Balbay if Dogus doesn't become a credible threat from 15' or out. Ward's a good on ball defender, and a very capable offensive player at the 1. Doge better be shooting a thousand jumpers a day and hit more than just a couple hundred.
Most all thoughts are welcome. Coherency is a requisite.
Also, here's my earlier look into the Crystal Ball (two parts).