Basketball

Slack Chat: Thoughts on Texas Tech’s Backcourt

Ed. Note. Part 1 of our Slack Chat can be found here and this is part 2, where we discuss the backcourt for Chris Beard’s Texas Tech Red Raiders.

danswany: True to all of this, McCullar was a player that really did get better each minute he was out on the court. I had him on my radar too, as a guy that could guide this roster during the last seconds of a tight game.
Now, somebody that doesn’t seem quiet or bashful about being in the spotlight is none other than my guy Mac McClung. Hoping he can be direct and gain the loyalty of our troops, because there’s no doubt he won’t shy away from showing up in a jam. (edited)

Seth: So let’s talk a little about the backcourt since we’re talking about McClung. Give me your best guess for starting point guard and shooting guard, as well as back-ups and why.

michael: McClung has to be starting PG, right? He’s a skilled ball handler, and we’ve really missed that since Mooney’s departure (apologies to Moretti). Going with experience in Beard’s system, I’d have to say Edwards and Nadolny could round out the backcourt. Burton would obviously be in the mix, I’m just not sure of Beard will start him right away. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him come off the bench at first then possibly overtake Nadolny’s spot.

Kyle Jacobson: I think Beard really values experience (part of why he targets grad transfers every cycle). That said, I’m sure he has tons of trust in Kyler Edwards by now. I’m not sure if he’ll be the primary ball handler but I expect him to be on the court quite a bit, especially early in the season. Assuming McClung is who we think he is, I imagine he’s your primary ball handler, perhaps being spelled by Nadolny. Could be wishful thinking, but how cool would it be if Nadolny were this year’s K-Mac? All the physical tools, some time in the system, etc… maybe he’ll grow like we saw K-MAC grow last year. Just from the sounds of it, it seems like Burton might choose to redshirt even if his waiver is accepted. Simply stated, I expect at least one of Edwards and McClung to be out there pretty much 100% of the time unless and until Nadolny and Nimari Burnett (who I think might be more of a shooting guard) prove themselves.

danswany: McClung will get the start at the 1, and Kyler at the 2. Both can be combo guards and will shift between PG and SG during games, yet Namari should push as a backup that can also shift and get heavy minutes in the backcourt. When Beard talks about positionless basketball, you’ve got to have the ability to play offense and defense at both the PG and SG places, depending on how the in-game adjustments are made. I think Nadolny and Benson get time off the bench in the backcourt. If the rumors of Burton redshirting are true, we still have plenty of depth at the 1 & 2 guard positions to carry the load. Don’t be surprised to see Namari maybe move up to a starting role throughout the season if McClung and Kyler aren’t distributing the ball well enough and go on cold streaks in the shooting percentage category.

Seth: I’m in agreement with Kyle and Dan, most likely Edwards and McClung starting. The interesting thing to add about Burton is that of the players on the roster, he is the best distributor statistically and if Burton doesn’t lose a year because of the special waiver, then maybe he does play and we play as if there’s nothing to lose.

So one of my big things is that I think with the roster that Beard has, he can play 2 guards and then play one of the three small forward types, Terrence Shannon, Kevin McCullar, or Micah Peavy. I realize that this is awfully restrictive and I think Beard will play whoever will benefit him so he could play a 3 guard lineup with Shannon and McCullar or go a ton of different directions. Is that how you all see the roster shaking out or do you see it some other way? (edited)

Kyle Jacobson: With Beard’s love for “positionless” basketball and with several new faces, I really have no idea. The only guys I feel fairly certain of are that Tyreek Smith, MSS, and Vlad Goldin will be post players. But I’m not sure where exactly guys like Agbo, Peavy, and Ntambwe fit in. Are these guys strictly wing players or can they be a stretch 4 in a small ball lineup? Expectations are high for Ntambwe but the others are freshmen and they can be wild cards in terms of how quickly the light comes on for them (especially without your typical slate of warmup games against Directional State University). I think guys like Shannon and K-Mac have proven they can play several positions. So besides the guys in the backcourt we mentioned, I expect MSS to be an anchor in the post. I’ve got high hopes for Tyreek Smith, but he missed his entire freshman year with an injury so who knows? Will Goldin receive playing time or will he be brought along slowly like Big Russ last year? And with the rest of the guys on the roster, you could drive yourself crazy coming up with combinations of starting lineups and rotations.

I go back to Beard valuing experience, so if I had to take a stab at a starting lineup for the first game, give me: Edwards, McClung, K-Mac or Shannon at the 3 (the other being first off the bench), Ntambwe as a stretch 4, and MSS at the 5. Can’t believe that leaves three of the highest profile recruits you’ve ever brought to Lubbock coming off the bench, but here we are… What a great “problem” to have. (edited)

Kyle Jacobson: And real quick on that note about the freshmen, I think the hype is growing for Agbo. He kind of got overshadowed by Nimari Burnett (highest ranked Tech commit ever, I believe, and our only McDonald’s all-American ever) and Micah Peavy (DFW product long linked to Tech through Ramsey and Peavy’s dad formerly being on staff with Beard back in the day I believe). So he’s in their shadows a bit it seems, but all I hear are great things and he sounds like an immediate impact guy. I’m excited for him and just want to remind fans not to forget about him behind the other two superstar freshmen that were brought in.

danswany: Ok, here’s which it gets tricky in the lineup. The 3 position is where I get into debates on who plays, and I am falling back to Beard and his in-game adjustments that will be changing depending on our opponents.
Shannon is the starter at 3, yet he can go stretch 4 if we go small ball… putting K-Mac at the 3 spot starter. K-Mac is a point forward type that with his ball handling could also bring the ball down the court to lead the offense. Unless Shannon has really improved his outside range, he’s not a swingman. That designation would probably fall to Peavy.

So, my best guess depending on situational basketball you have Shannon at 3 in the starting lineup most games with chances of him getting some minutes at 4. K-Mac will play or start depending on what is happening with Shannon. I need to see Peavy play and if he is a true swingman than your backcourt gets that much more complicated with being able to have a lineup with him getting minutes at the 3 or even 2 spot with Shannon and/or K-Mac on the floor.

Have I confused things enough? The positive is Beard has so many ways to mix and match our backcourt, we shouldn’t have to worry unless everyone is having turnover problems or cannot hit a three ball. (edited)

Kyle Jacobson: ^ This. With so much depth top to bottom and so much positional flexibility, we may see things change game-to-game based on matchup and game plan. Gives you a lot of cushion in case of an injury, a guy having an off night, or not getting things done in practice. Beard may tinker with several different lineups. As long as we have one that can gel in March plus all the depth we hope/expect to have, we’ll be in good shape. Have I mentioned talking about this gets me juiced for basketball season?!

Keith: That sounds like Beard has attended the Tim Tadlock school of tinkering and firing off like a rocket in March.

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