Very interesting topic, OK4, and probably the most pressing question this team will have to answer.
This is a team that is going to really struggle in the half-court offensively if things don't break right. Last years offense worked (when it mattered) because of how well Napier and Boatright's skill set complemented the shooting ability of Daniels and Giffey. This year, there seems to be a redundancy in the personnel. Purvis and Boatright are vastly improved as perimeter shooters (I'm speculating a bit on Purvis) from where they were earlier in their career, but I still tend to think they are creators by nature more so than spot up shooters. How they co-exist (or don't) within the structure of the offense will be interesting to watch. Less than ideal spacing can be overcome by smart off-ball cutting. Purvis should be watching how Dwayne Wade evolved as a player during his time with LeBron and implementing some of that into his own game.
I have not seen Daniel Hamilton play outside of a couple glorified scrimmages, but I have heard opinions that range from him being one of the best pure scorers in his class to him being somebody who hunts his own shot. On one hand, we have seen freshman struggle in the past adjusting to the college game. They aren't featured nearly as much as they were in high school, and a lot of them have the tendency to drift and become ineffective spot up shooters. All half-court offenses are better with more movement than less, but with this roster, that is probably going to be especially true.
Second thing on D-Ham: for as valuable as Giffey and Daniels were last season, they were both dreadful passers and shaky ball-handlers. For what we might lose with D-Ham from the three point line, I expect we might gain as much in terms of him being able to catch the ball in the middle of the floor and dribble through tight spaces.
The most glaring void left by the departing veterans is at the power forward position. That statement isn't meant to disparage Facey as much as it is to emphasize how good Daniels was. Coaches at all levels are constantly trying to balance the cost benefit at this position - do I go small and expose myself defensively, or do I risk suffocating my half-court offense with two limited big men? It's generally an either/or proposition, but the versatility Daniels gave us at the four was basically unparalleled. When St. Joe's was running a two big offense in the NCAA Tournament and battering us with it, DeAndre was the guy who stepped up and finally stopped Kanacevic. He was a capable rim protector, a very underrated pick and roll defender, and by the end of the season, as dangerous a pick and pop player as there was in the country. He was phenomenal in March.
Word is that Facey is now hitting threes at a high clip, but I'm skeptical - hitting threes in a real game is obviously a lot different than in other settings. In what little we saw of him last year, he was purely an energy player (albeit a good one) who played no meaningful role in our offensive or defensive schemes. In todays game, employing a big man who can't shoot or score in the post is tricky.
So, with all these questions in mind, it's easy to imagine this offense leaving us frustrated, at least early on. But keep this in mind when people are panicking in December: last years offense was a train wreck - seriously, it was unwatchable - in early March. And that was with a veteran team, the best point guard in the country, and tons of shooting. So to say we should temper our expectations is an understatement.
That all in mind, there are certain things about next years team that I am hopeful will offset some of these concerns:
1. Transition offense - One little known fact is that last years UConn team played at a distinctively slow pace. Among national champions, I believe they were one of the slowest ever. They weren't opposed to running, but for the most part, they beat teams by being more disciplined (major credit to Ollie here).
This season, I'm anticipating a 180. If you aren't familiar with Rodney Purvis's game, know that he's one of the most dangerous open court weapons around. I watched some tape of his freshman year at N.C. State, and his baseline to baseline speed is off the charts. Boatright has long been somebody who has liked to push the pace, even when it wasn't advisable. Brimah gets up and down the floor as well as any center in America. Facey and Samuel both love to run. This team is built for high-octane basketball. The athletes we have here are as good as any in America outside Lexington.
2. Post offense - people may be very surprised how capable Brimah and Nolan are in the paint. They've still got a ways to go, but Brimah especially has the tools to emerge into a legitimate back-to-the-basket threat.
3. Omar Calhoun - as ace mentioned the other day, people have been awfully quick to shovel dirt on his career. It's possible that he's simply never going to be the type of shooter we expected, but if guys like Giffey and Daniels can develop reliable strokes over time, Omar can as well. He just needs to see a couple go in the net.
Overall, this team will be defined by how they defend. If they're a cohesive, aggressive defense predicated on turning people over, they are going to have success. If they are more leisurely defensively, we'll be in a lot of close games with average teams.