The Mocs have plenty of new faces this year as they begin practice today. There are two players who are notably missing. One is, of course, Z Mason. The other is Gee McGhee.
But this is an interesting year for the Mocs. There are a bunch of new guys and the team should be even better next year, but they have a chance to be pretty good this year. There are three seniors on the roster this year- Martynas Bareika, Lance Stokes and Rico White.
So who are the new faces? Duke Ethridge, Chuck Ester, Justin Tuoyo, Brandon Maxwell, Shaq Preston, Tre McLean and Jacolby Mobley are all going to be new to the lineup.
The most hyped of these players is Tuoyo, who came from VCU when Will Wade left to become head coach at Chattanooga. Tuoyo appears to be a very good talent, but needs to be his own player and not be trying to replace Mason. After all, Tuoyo is 6-10 and Mason was 6-5. He's going to be a different player.
Ester and Ethridge are both big men who will contribute. They are each 6-6 or 6-7. These two both seem to be part of what Wade wanted to upgrade the athleticism. Per GoMocs on MocFans.com, who watched the team in the Bahamas, Ester is the furthest along of the new guys.
Mobley, McLean, Preston and Maxwell all were brought in to help with ball handling and to help the Mocs in the other area of concern that Wade spoke of frequently last year- shooting. To win with Chaos, the point is to force turnovers and knock down shots. The Mocs didn't have a lot of great shooters. That caused problems for the Mocs sometimes.
This group of players is supposed to be bringing more athleticism, more length and better shooting. This will help Wade to fully bring us the Chaos system. Last year, we didn't get to see a ton of it. They did not play nearly as much full court press as he would have liked. I think we will begin to see a lot more of that this year.
The disappointment last year was the lack of ability to consistently play defense and knock down shots consistently. The team learned how to win in spite of that. This group of young guys should make the Mocs better in both of those categories.
I still think that the Mocs are probably a year away from being really where they want to be and being a big threat in March. But there is no reason that this team can't be a really good SoCon team and have a shot to make things happen in Asheville. This group of young players may take some time to mesh. No better way to come together than nine games in nineteen days to start the year, including games against Butler, Wisconsin and Georgia.