In case you haven't noticed (and judging by the numbers at Stegeman, you haven't...badabing!), Fox's Hounds have finished the pre-SEC schedule at 9-5. Breaking down the schedule, there is little rhyme or reason to the wins or the losses.
On the plus side, we have wins over RPI #64(?!?) South Dakota State, as well as Notre Dame, which is currently RPI#128 and USC, currently RPI#126. Both ND and USC will rise once they get into their conference schedules. On the negative side, we've lost games to #109 Cincinatti and #161 Georgia Tech (both RPIs there will move up, too). More damning, we've played very inconsistent basketball. We imploded against Tech, nearly did so against Deleware State and Winthrop, and haven't had any consistent full game offensive efforts yet. Our maddening propensity to go on 5-7 minute scoring droughts in the second half continues. In short, we've got a long way to go or the NIT is a mere pipe dream.
The upside is there are pieces that can come together. Caldwell-Pope is getting stronger, is becoming more of an explosive scoring threat, and is leading the team in scoring. Gerald Robinson is showing improvement in pass/shot selection. Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams are both getting better at going after the ball in rebound situations and showing more awareness when they get offensive rebounds.
Right now, Coach Fox's team is raw. We foul too much, take too many bad shots, rotate to cover the low post too slowly and lose our composure at times. I had hoped the non-conference schedule would work out some of the rawness and only time will tell if it has. Either way, the SEC schedule is here. Looking forward, I think the Dawgs have to have 9+ SEC wins, at a minimum, to have a legit NCAA shot, unless a couple of the non-conf wins or losses become substantially better.
Can we do that? Sure, if we play much better and smarter basketball. Fox's offensive is predicated on ball control and good shot selection. We have the ability to make any game a 63-59 type deal. I like our chances in those games.
Dawgs get their first shot at the SEC against a very good Alabama (11-3) team tomorrow night at 7pm. Coverage is on FSN.