The Red Foxes started the season tonight in front of a crowded McCann Center.
The night served as a kick-off to the relationship between the crowd and the two programs. It was more about skill than basketball technique and intensity.
The men's team looked entirely different than last year, which is a good and bad thing. The good is that this is the most freakishly athletic team in the MAAC. Granted that doesn't translate into good basketball and wins, but there is a ton of talent there. The bad is there is no David Devezin and Ryan Schneider. They emerged as the faces of this team, so it is an obvious change. They played the game without flash, but were consummate professionals.
This team has an infusion of youth. The core is built of freshmen. There is a camraderie with this group that I haven't seen since I've followed Marist basketball. They celebrated boisterously, displayed their skills, and showboated at will. At least there won't be any shortage of confidence.
There was probably a bit of disappointment regarding the team's intensity level during the scrimmage, but that's the way these events go. The New Jersey Nets opened their annual practice to the public in early October, and the intensity was just as bad, and they are professionals. These events are to showcase the newcomers and the talent, not the dribble-drive offense and tight man-to-man defense.
Based on what Marist displayed, these are my following observations:
R.J. Hall did not play in the scrimmage and Korey Bauer has the flu.
Devin Price is one of the most athletic point guards I've ever seen. Jared Jordan and David Devezin certainly could not dunk like him. Hard to say how that translates into the game since tonight was basically a skills contest.
Expect Marist to go small to start the season. Korey Bauer should be healthy, and my guess is he is the only true "big" in the lineup. Menelik Watson, although of freakish strength, did not appear to be in shape just yet to play 30 minutes a night. He did not get involved in the scrimmage as much as I was hoping. Based on what I saw, he does not start against Rutgers.
Daye Kaba and Casiem Drummond could bring this team further than anyone is anticipating come March. Drummond displayed the kind of enthusiasm and effort you love to see. Although most hope he does not bring the ball up court in real action like he did tonight, he at least worked hard during the scrimmage.
Daye Kaba will be this year's Ryan Schneider. He will be a team leader that everyone will look to. Prediction: he is an All-MAAC selection.
Sam Prescott could start. He's everything he was cracked up to be by the coaching staff in the offseason. His speed, agility, and vertical leap make him a huge asset in this offense.
Rob Johnson and Dorvell Carter are probably vying for the same starting spot. Nod may go to Carter, but Johnson will make an impact in some shape or form.
Anell Alexis was present and in uniform. He also was not wearing a brace. Just speculation, but maybe the injury was not a full tear. Based on the numbers, I'd still redshirt him.
The wildcard for this team is Candon Rusin. In warmups, he knocked down several NBA three-pointers. He air-balled a few as well, but he seems to be a silky-smooth shooter, probably the best the team has at this point.
Finally, I'm curious to see the roles that Javon Parris and Dejuan Goodwin play. Parris' game translates to Bruce Bowen in that he's probably only a defensive-stopper that can knock down the occasional shot. Goodwin is the same player but with better talent around him, especially once Drummond is active. He knows the offense and can knock down shots. Martin will probably look to him early, like he did last year in the first three games with Kaylen Gregory, because of his seniority.
Final word: this is not a 10th place team in the MAAC. Granted, that's not exactly going out on a limb. Finishing middle of the pack and looking to get hot in Albany with Drummond is a safe bet.