Many players are looking to either keep their starting position from last year or fill a starting void left by a player who graduated or transferred. Here is Part 2 of some of the more compelling position battles in the WCC for the upcoming season.
If there’s anything we learned from the 2013-14 Saint Mary’s basketball team, it is that Jordan Giusti isn’t really an every possession point guard and Kerry Carter is quite the outside shooter.
During the past two seasons Giusti played the most over the second half of 2012-13 and the first half of 2013-14. However, Giusti fell out of Randy Bennett’s rotation by the NIT this season because of his pure inability to hit shots on a consistent basis. While Carter is not a great defender like Giusti, he isn’t exactly a liability either.
In addition to those two, Minnesota transfer Joe Coleman, who is almost exclusively a slasher and an infrequent outside shooter. That makes him nearly the polar opposite of Carter. With experience going through the rugged Big Ten schedule, and the ability to get to the basket that Stephen Holt had last season, I fully expect Coleman to start next season. I also believe starting Carter would complement Coleman very well because they provide different skill sets that will make life easier for Stanford transfer Aaron Bright at point guard.
At least to start the season, Giusti may up being the odd man out, and may even be competing with redshirt freshman Emmett Naar for backup minutes. However, if the Gaels have struggles defensively, expect Giusti to get more minutes as an energizer off the bench.
Jett Raines, after a solid freshman season 2 years ago where he started a majority of the season, played limited minutes last season due to the combination of a hand injury (causing him to miss the first 8 games of the season) and the addition of UCLA transfer Brendan Lane in the front court.
Davis was one of the best players in the WCC last season, averaging 15.1 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game.
While these two players started together during the 2012-13 season, that isn’t very likely to happen again with an influx of wing players (mainly Lamond Murray Jr. and Atif Russell) and a solid incoming center in freshman Nate Gehring.
While Davis is a far more talented player than Raines, Raines actually started a few games down the stretch of last season over Davis, despite the fact that Davis still got the lion’s share of the minutes at power forward. Marty Wilson could continue with that arrangement next season in order to keep Davis well rested and out of foul trouble, making him one of the best 6th men in all of college basketball.
However, I think it will be more likely that Davis starts and Raines comes off the bench, backing up Davis at power forward and Gehring at center.
San Diego: Duda Sanadze vs. Brett Bailey
While it could not be more certain that Christopher Anderson will start at point guard and Johnny Dee will start at shooting guard, there is definitely some debate as to whether Sanadze, the high volume but not fairly accurate shooter, or Bailey, the more solid all around player with less of an offensive repertoire, should start.
When Sanadze was injured last year, Bailey earned more playing time and capitalized on that experience during the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, averaging 9.3 points per game on 59% shooting in the 3 games. While Sanadze is certainly a capable scoring, eclipsing the 20 point mark four times last season, he isn’t exactly known for his defense and was known for his ability to shoot the Toreros out of games if he was cold. Due to the strong play of Bailey down the stretch, Bailey should be the player to start while Sanadze should become a tremendous weapon off the bench who will really illustrate the Toreros depth in the back court along with Chris Sarbaugh.