Starting Lineup Redux

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The discussion thread called “Evina Finishes Rehab Thread morphed into another Who Starts Next Year Thread” has to my mind lost its focus, so here is another stab at it.

Formal basketball practice is scheduled to begin in around four months, assuming that there will be a full season that starts on time. With the scarcity of sports to watch to entertain us, it is interesting to continue to discuss the contours of the upcoming 2020-21 season with another thread.

The four most experienced players on the team are Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Odoba, Evina Westbrook, and Anna Makurat and the likelihood exists, assuming no injuries and no visa problems due to COVID-19, that they will be starters. I realize that others may have different thoughts.

The fifth starter is most likely to be one of three players, Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards, and Aubrey Griffin. What are the pluses and minuses for each of them?

Paige Bueckers: plus - a true point guard with great leadership qualities; minus - if she starts, the team will be relatively small, a factor of what could be of major importance in facing teams like Baylor and South Carolina.

Aaliyah Edwards - plus - a true power forward with international experience; minus - if she starts, the team will lack a true point guard, although it is certainly possible that a combination of Westbrook, Williams, and Makurat can make up for that deficiency.

Aubrey Griffin - plus - a strong rebounder and disruptive on defense; minus - has not demonstrated a jump shot and she could well be more effective in coming off the bench. She is probably the longest shot for the starting five.

A complication. What if one of the four most experienced player suffers a serious injury? UConn has been comparatively fortunate in this regard recently. The answer depends, of course, on whom is injured. If ONO, she would probably be replaced by Edwards with the hope that Piath Gabriel can come in to provide some effective minutes. Since Makurat, Westbrook, and Williams in some ways have similar games, then Griffin or one of the other two freshmen might take on leading roles. If Bueckers is the 5th starter, then Edwards would probably step into the starting lineup. If Paige is injured, then perhaps the point will be handled by committee, one that includes Nika Muhl.

Another possible complication. What if a player, practice player, coach, manager, etc. tests positive for COVID-19? Will the person be treated in a matter similar to someone contacting the flu or will everyone on the squad be quarantined and games postponed or canceled?
 
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I liked your post because you expelled a lot of information and a lot of possibilities. So many choices, so little time.

I think that Geno and Coaches will have to evaluate each combination of players who work the hardest and work together best as a team. I certainly can not do it. But you seem to understand all of the possibilities very well. I guess at this stage, I would be glad to know that they are back on campus, practicing and getting into school life. Then in the first game, I will see what Geno chooses to do.
 
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While most of the posts focus on offense, nice to see some comments on defense and rebounding. Other than ONO, don't see any consistent rebounding and interior defense until the frosh step up. Griffin can sky and play great defense on a guard or small forward but is still thin and gets overpowered by the stronger bigs. I like this year's team but there are several risks.
 
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I think your assumptions are right on for the first 3-5 games of the season. It is my off the wall assumption that after that period, AE will replace Anna. Paige will run the point with CW and EW as the wings. This is the most balanced team. Anna could be first off the bench replacing either wing or Paige by moving EW to the point. AG is the first interior player of the bench. My biggest hope is that Aubrey becomes the 'Aubreylicious' lock down defender like 'The Gabulous One' and be a stopper on any of the opponents 1 through 4.
 
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For us old folks, I would appreciate it if you would spell out the names of players instead of using initials. The only ones that I got was Anna and Page and Aubrey. Perhaps, just use the first name. I do not know all of them by their initials, yet, so this would be very helpful.
 
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This year we have a very balance team. Almost everyone can start.
But I think Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Odoba, Evina Westbrook, and Paige Bueckers. are 4 starters. Paige is just too good not to start.
The fifth starter will be between Anna and Aubrey.

But if Geno does not start a freshman then Anna and Aubrey will start.
 
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The past couple of years I think we have played small and got away with it except when we faced a frontcourt loaded teams and then paid dearly for the lack of height and rebounding. Geno can fix that or continue to make other teams play to our past strengths. Which I think was the transition game and 3 point shooting because that is what we had. Now it is a whole new game. So my starters are as follows.
1. Liv- I expect her to come back strong and become an AA. She makes our defense good. She dominates the paint on defense. Boston could not do much down low against her she had to move to the elbow to find an open shot. Liv's offense should take a step forward. Hopefully, she is stronger and can finish better. Maybe we will see an elbow jumper. She is a great passer from the foul line so developing that shot is critical.
2. CW- She has been a 2-year starter and has learned to rebound and play decent defense. She knows the offense and at times looks good. The foul line jumper off screens was open to her all year anytime she wanted it. She seemed afraid to take it sometimes. She would try a 3 point shot early if she made it she would try again if she missed the first on she would only try and score going to the hoop. Forcing it in my mind. She got challenged in the paint and looked overmatched sometimes. At the end of games when Megan went out she came to life and said I am the go-to scorer now and she looked a lot more sure of herself. Now with Megan gone, we hope to see a different CW this year.
3. We need rebounding so the choice is 3 fold. Anna, Aubrey, or Edwards. My pick is Aubrey because of her rebounding and defense. She hopefully will feel more confident in her outside shot which would make her a difficult matchup. Her strong first step off a head fake would be almost unstoppable if she can make her defender take a step forward. Edwards will be getting some minutes from LV and Aubrey and we will see how that goes. I think she has tremendous potential. I watched the matchup of team Canada against the USA in Puerto Rico and she did not look out of place at all. She matched up against Pheesa most of the time who was an All American.
4. AM should play the 3 on defense and play the point forward and be our main outside shooter threat of the starting 5. She will run the fast break and offer exciting passes at times. I think she will show that she can score off the dribble this year. Geno will tell her to be a scorer because she can.
5. Paige or Westbrook. If Westbrook is physically OK. I think she will start at the beginning of the season as a wing who is more of a slasher than a 3 point threat. Paige will get minutes at the point and might be our best 3 point shooter. If teams bunch up their defenders, which I think they will we will need her shooting to open it back up. Geno will adjust his lineup to how others are playing us if necessary. He finally has some options.
The lineup might change during the course of the season and as I believe and others have said he might find great success with a great pressing and transition team. Geno has choices and as the great coach that he is, he will find lineups to succeed.
 

EricLA

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Some of you seem to think "let's put the best 5 on the floor" or "let's put the best size on the floor" as starters. Or "X player will replace Y player down the road". Everyone has a right to their opinion. A few things to consider...

Diana did NOT start her freshman year until an injury opened up an opportunity. In fact, she only started 14 games that year. She did not replace anyone even tho she was fabulous right out the gate. However, Stef Dolson started right out the gate because there literally was no one else who could play center besides Heather Buck or Maya Moore. It is out of necessity that freshmen ever start.

Geno has publicly said he does not like starting freshmen. Why put that much pressure on them? BUT sometimes there is no choice. AND he's NEVER (to my knowledge) replaced a starter with a freshman just because she was a "natural" 4. Additionally, he's never removed one of his starters from a previous year in favor of an incoming freshman.

To think that IF Anna continues to improve and play the way she did the 2nd half of her freshman season, but will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaliyah is simply not gonna happen. Unless Anna has such a crisis of confidence that her play reverts back to what it was at the start of her freshman year.

To think otherwise would be a disservice to Geno as a coach, mentor, motivator, and incredible basketball mind. It also does a disservice to Anna, who actually did travel 5,000 miles to pass the ball and play defense (reference to Sveta in case anyone is wondering)...

I'm just hopeful everyone is able to get to campus. Starters for the entire season WILL BE Evina, Christyn, Anna and Olivia. Barring injury or something drastic, there is no way they do not start the entire season.

The 5th starter will either be Aubrey, Aaliyah, or Paige. 2 reasons why I think the 5th starter will be Paige. First, she's the only natural PG on the team besides Nika. Second, like Dee, she has the moxy and personality to be able to handle the pressure of being THE floor general right out the gate.

By the way, if Megan had stayed, she'd be the 5th starter IMHO. Yeah, I get even more might disagree with that (not starting Paige over Anna), but history and how Geno coaches is what I base my opinion on. Just my $.02...
 
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Some of you seem to think "let's put the best 5 on the floor" or "let's put the best size on the floor" as starters. Or "X player will replace Y player down the road". Everyone has a right to their opinion. A few things to consider...

Diana did NOT start her freshman year until an injury opened up an opportunity. In fact, she only started 14 games that year. She did not replace anyone even tho she was fabulous right out the gate. However, Stef Dolson started right out the gate because there literally was no one else who could play center besides Heather Buck or Maya Moore. It is out of necessity that freshmen ever start.

Geno has publicly said he does not like starting freshmen. Why put that much pressure on them? BUT sometimes there is no choice. AND he's NEVER (to my knowledge) replaced a starter with a freshman just because she was a "natural" 4. Additionally, he's never removed one of his starters from a previous year in favor of an incoming freshman.

To think that IF Anna continues to improve and play the way she did the 2nd half of her freshman season, but will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaliyah is simply not gonna happen. Unless Anna has such a crisis of confidence that her play reverts back to what it was at the start of her freshman year.

To think otherwise would be a disservice to Geno as a coach, mentor, motivator, and incredible basketball mind. It also does a disservice to Anna, who actually did travel 5,000 miles to pass the ball and play defense (reference to Sveta in case anyone is wondering)...

I'm just hopeful everyone is able to get to campus. Starters for the entire season WILL BE Evina, Christyn, Anna and Olivia. Barring injury or something drastic, there is no way they do not start the entire season.

The 5th starter will either be Aubrey, Aaliyah, or Paige. 2 reasons why I think the 5th starter will be Paige. First, she's the only natural PG on the team besides Nika. Second, like Dee, she has the moxy and personality to be able to handle the pressure of being THE floor general right out the gate.

By the way, if Megan had stayed, she'd be the 5th starter IMHO. Yeah, I get even more might disagree with that (not starting Paige over Anna), but history and how Geno coaches is what I base my opinion on. Just my $.02...
If you recall, the game plan Geno employed at the end of the season was to inbound to Crystal and then get the ball to Anna as fast as possible and let her create the play. That is a lot of confidence in a freshman. We know she can pass, we know she has high bb iq, we know she can shoot the three, we saw her add the pull up jumper several times at the end, we saw her drive to basket, not with speed perhaps, but with his brute determination. Geno said it best—we went to Europe and struck gold. I hear the knock on her early games where she concentrated on getting the ball to others but led team in assists. Yes, yes, I admit to being her biggest fan. I took a long look at her very early last year, saw something extremely special, and nothing since then has made me change my mind. Geno might be slightly wrong, we didn’t hit gold, we hit platinum.
 
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Lots of roster problems, but they're all good problems. I don't care who starts, I just want to start. How many more months? Just a few right? With the abbreviated season this seems like forever.
You want to start?!? What skills to you bring to the game?
 
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For us old folks, I would appreciate it if you would spell out the names of players instead of using initials. The only ones that I got was Anna and Page and Aubrey. Perhaps, just use the first name. I do not know all of them by their initials, yet, so this would be very helpful.
Apologies my friend. I will refrain from the practice in the future. My shorthand list
AE = Aaliyah Edwards
EW = Evina Westbrook
CW = Christyn Williams
AG = Aubrey Griffen
 

diggerfoot

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Too many unknowns for me to predict who will start, but I have a preference for how the line up and changes will work. Let me add I doubt it will happen.

I would like to see the returning players start (including Westbrook) and play the first quarter. Then the fabulous freshmen five come in for the start of the second quarter. Changes will be made during the second quarter as the situation dictates, but the FFF get at least a few minutes playing together at the start of the quarter. Someone from the FFF could also come in during the first quarter but remain from the start of the second. The same strategy is repeated for the 3rd and 4th quarters. With Bueckers as one of the FFF I think this would work, as she would bolster their confidence and enhance the performance of her teammates.

Repetition is important in player development, with in game reps being even more important than practice reps in terms of quality (though the quantity of practice reps surpasses in overall value). Another way to get quality reps is to play together with the same teammates. With at least four of the five freshmen talented enough to warrant such investment in player development and reps, this might be the best way to get it.

Not going to happen, just what I'd like to see.
 
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I still think in terms of positions more than putting the best 5 players out there, partly because the first couple off the bench are still going to play a major role, and also because how good a player is depends on the role they are given. If you rated players on a scale of 1-10 by position, many might be an 8 at their best position, 6-7 on their next best, a 5 at their next best, all the way down to below average at their worst one.

Also the opinions on who is best to start have been given in great detail, and obviously it is close between a variety of players. So I am going to pursue this more from the standpoint of who would be the most effective star off the bench.

I believe both Anna and Evina would be great in that role, both versatile enough to get significant minutes off the bench, and in a pinch being the injury answer for up to four positions. The square peg in round hole gameplan (best players regardless of position) often has one of these two starting at something other than their best position (PF), playing most of their minutes that way.

Now compare the scenario where one of these is the star off the bench. Both could be very effective as the SG or SF backup. If everybody is healthy maybe that is their role for most of the season, getting close to 20 minutes a game. I would argue both of these players could also play PG at a good level if needed, but if healthy they generally would not be needed if Paige and Nika meet expectations. Finally for those penciling in one of these as a starter at PF, they could still be an option there, not their best role, but as plan C not plan A.

Plan A can be either Edwards or Griffin as starters at their natural position, and plan B is the one who loses the starters battle, also playing their natural position. If an injury to the starter happens the backup assumes the starter role, and then the supersub could be considered for the backup minutes there along with perhaps Mir.

If you start Anna and Evina, your top three backups are a PG (Nika) who is pretty much a one position player, and two PF's (Edwards and Griffin). Edwards might be able to play some SF but given that most think Piath won't be ready yet, her minutes at other positions will likely be consumed by the backup C role. Whoever is the loser of the PF battle will still get significant minutes, because when Olivia is out, Edwards will probably need to play C. In essence a three big rotation, which doesn't allow many minutes to help out elsewhere.

With Anna or Evina off the bench, we have great substitutes at PG, SG and SF, and could handle one injury at any of those positions very well and with minimal disruptions, and players in roles they can be good at. If an injury occurs to a big we may have to use Anna or Evina as a PF, but when we start one out of position, we not only have that problem, but also a bench where others may have to wind up playing out of position.

Starting a PF helps Makurat, Evina, Griffin and Edwards perform where they can do the best.
 

RockyMTblue2

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I never play these starting five games. Not that they are not a core frolic for us fans. My reason is I am no good at it and too readily influenced by considerations of personality and likeability. I do, however, have an abiding feeling that we will have two freshman starters half way through the season.
 

bballnut90

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I think the only locked in starters are ONO, Makurat and Williams.

Anyone who isnt including Makurat is selling her short. She improved leaps and bounds over her first year and played her role quite well for the Huskies. Best returning shooter and passer. Had the 2nd best A/TO numbers last year behind Dangerfield.


Westbrook likely starts but could be in contention with Bueckers if Geno wants a pure PG on the floor, although Geno is usually very anti-freshmen starting unless it's a necessity. Bueckers likely isnt a necessity to start considering Evina is there. That said, Westbrook is more of a combo guard and didnt have the best PG training at Tennessee.

The 4 starting spot is up for grabs and could go a couple of ways. Geno could play small ball and put both Bueckers/Westbrook in the starting 5. Give up size but you have 4 big guards, all 5-10 to 6-1, and as a safety net you have of the more imposing posts inside in ONO, so they could do well in a 4 out 1 in system. More realistically, I think Griffin starts if she understands his system better and improves as a sophomore. I dont see any way Muhl/McLean/Edwards/Gabriel start unless there are injuries.

My guess is the rotation will primarily be 6 players with the possibility of McLean/Edwards playing more minutes as the season continues. Unless Muhl is a diamond in the rough, I dont see her getting a lot of minutes with Westbrook/Bueckers there, and Gabriel I dont foresee being a contributor as a frosh.
 
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Too many unknowns for me to predict who will start, but I have a preference for how the line up and changes will work. Let me add I doubt it will happen.

I would like to see the returning players start (including Westbrook) and play the first quarter. Then the fabulous freshmen five come in for the start of the second quarter. Changes will be made during the second quarter as the situation dictates, but the FFF get at least a few minutes playing together at the start of the quarter. Someone from the FFF could also come in during the first quarter but remain from the start of the second. The same strategy is repeated for the 3rd and 4th quarters. With Bueckers as one of the FFF I think this would work, as she would bolster their confidence and enhance the performance of her teammates.

Repetition is important in player development, with in game reps being even more important than practice reps in terms of quality (though the quantity of practice reps surpasses in overall value). Another way to get quality reps is to play together with the same teammates. With at least four of the five freshmen talented enough to warrant such investment in player development and reps, this might be the best way to get it.

Not going to happen, just what I'd like to see.
This is a Hubie Brown special.
 

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