There has been a lot of discussion lately about who the starting 5 will be for the Jays this season. In some respects it does not really matter too much since last season the bench outscored the starters quite a bit and Cavel Witter and Booker Woodfox were the only duo in the country without a start to score more than 300 points. The duo helped the CU bench out-score the starting five (48.4 ppg for the starters, 51.6 ppg for reserves), and lead the country in bench scoring. And they will probably be coming off the bench again this season as sparks for the team.
That being said, here are the Starting 5 as I see it right now:
- PG–Josh Dotzler–This one is almost automatic. Really, other than the injuries Josh has suffered he has been a 4-year starter for this team. Although he is not a scorer, he does all the other little things. He led the team in assists last year, was second (by one) to P’Allen Stinnett in steals and was 4th in minutes played. His knowledge of the system and the leadership he brings to the team are one of the intangibles that you cannot deny. Cavel Witter is great and he has told everyone that he wants Josh to start as well.
- SG–P’Allen Stinnett–P’Allen is the face of the team right now. Everyone has him as a conference first team player and is the one the fans get excited about. Whether it is the in the face dunks or just the energy person, P’Allen can be the leader. He led the team in points and steals last season and made just some jaw dropping plays. His energy gets him into trouble sometimes so it will be important for him to control that.
- SF–Casey Harriman–Coach Altman is known for starting the year with his experienced players. Though Justin Carter sounds like he would fit great into this spot in the starting lineup, I highly doubt it will at least happen to start the year. Casey was the first person off the bench several times last season and more or less led the team in 3 Pt. percentage. He played several roles during the season and at this point will start at the beginning of the year. The one thing that worries me a little bit though is that he had some “minor” knee surgery earlier this summer which seemed to keep him out of Summer League Ball after the first week. However, Due to the make-up of the team though, I do see him playing a lot of PF this season which I will talk about later.
- PF–Chad Millard–The buzz around here is that Chad has really worked hard during the off-season to improve his game and he has driven himself to be the best he can be. He also added some weight which will help him on the inside. After watching him in the opening game of the season last year, he looked like he was going to be dominant with his size and long arms. However, a few tough games after that sort of caused his game to be a little more inconsistent and worrisome. I could see he was trying to find his role also which wasn’t really defined. I think since he had come from a big program like Louisville, there were some expectations that were unfair. However, we’ll see how it goes this season.
- C–Kenny Lawson–After having a difficult first season with the Jays where he had to take a medical redshirt, I was really impressed at times with Kenny’s play and sort of got mad at times when Coach Altman took him out of the games for long stretches and even for the rest of the game to play small ball because he was effective when the team would get the ball inside to him. I watched him play a few summer league games this summer and he has really built up his game and physicality. Kenny also gets the benefit of being one of the only real “bigs” on the team along with Kenton Walker. Unfortunately for Kenton, he didn’t get the minutes he needed last year to be the starter and also injured his hand this summer which kept him from being able to play a little more.
I’ll kind of go with the bench the way Coach Altman does his substitution patterns at least during the first half of most games that are going well.
- 17:30 before 16:00 minute mark—Justin Carter, Kenton Walker and Cavel Witter for Harriman, Dotzler and Lawson. Justin is a nice physical guard that can drive to the basket and score and eventually will be the starter at the SF as he gets into the system a little more. Kenton Walker is a big who will get some minutes early to spell Lawson and his job will be to rebound. Kenton got some good experience with Dane Watts earlier this summer playing overseas, but like Anthony Tolliver his Freshman and Sophomore year, Kenton will be playing some catchup due to a hand injury suffered over the summer. Cavel Witter will be in early to provide a spark off the bench and in some ways be the opposite to Dotzler as a scoring threat to either drive inside and drop the shot over the big man or to pull up and shoot the 3.
- 14:00 Minute mark—Booker Woodfox for Stinnett and Kaleb Korver for Millard. Booker is just an amazing shooter and the small space he needs to get off a shot is amazing. In a game I watched this summer in the summer league, Booker was taking shots from downtown Omaha left handed and draining them. The dude can shoot from anywhere. At the same time you get another outside shooter in Kaleb Korver. To have those guys on the outside and Cavel and Justin with their driving in abilities, this group on the court might be a little fun to watch.
- Then the substitions just go crazy, so try to keep up–
- 11:00 to around 10:00 Minute Mark–Dotzler, P’Allen, Korver, Harriman and Lawson. Someone will need to backup Chad Millard and will have to play the role Pierce HIbma did a couple of years ago when things were thin in the PF with Dane Watts after Ty Morrison decided to leave the team. Casey is the tallest guy behind Lawson, Walker and Millard, so it makes sense that he would be playing the PF spot as a backup.
- After the under 8:00 timeout–Josh Jones, Woodfox, P’Allen, Harriman and Millard. This is a chance to get one of the new guys a little experience and to play a little small ball but you still have some experience on the floor. I’m still a little tentative on how much Antoine Young and Josh Jones will be playing and I could see nights they won’t see the court only because of the possibility of close games and the experienced players would play. I enjoyed watching them play this summer, but I think there will be an adjustment period and getting them on the court will take some time and I don’t think Jones and Young would be on the court at the same time but you never know.
- 5:00 minute mark–Carter and Lawson back into the game and Harriman and P’Allen go to the bench.
- After under 4:00 timeout–Witter, P’Allen, Carter, Millard and Lawson.
- Around 2:30–Witter, Antoine Young, Korver, Harriman, and Walker. Depending on the situation, this lineup may not happen, but minutes will be interesting with 12 players looking to get minutes.
So the minutes break down like this per half (100 minutes total):
- Stinnett–12 Minutes
- Millard–12 Minutes
- Harriman–11 Minutes
- Witter-9 Minutes
- Lawson–9 Minutes
- Woodfox-9 Minutes
- Walker–8 Minutes
- Dotzler-8 Minutes
- Carter–8 Minutes
- Korver–7 Minutes
- Jones-4 Minutes
- Young-3 Minutes
Then the second half has the lineups that worked in the first half and then adjusted accordingly. So I say margin of error is +/- 3 minutes per half :)
Now understand, this minute distribution will change as the season goes and I could easily see Justin Carter and Casey Harriman switching minutes depending on if Justin enters the starting lineup. Also, I could see Josh Jones and Antoine Young switching around their minutes. As for the Exhibition game, all bets are off. Last year Booker Woodfox started the Exhibition game, but then never started a regular season game. The other huge challenge is trying to get this many guys minutes and to keep them in the flow of the game. It will be interesting if it will be a 12 man rotation with a constant risk taking press or if it is more of a 9-10 player rotation with a nuisance press. This will be good for the team however that they will all compete hard in practice to get minutes for the game.