It should come as little surprise sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy will start Saturday in a exhibition against Saint Martin’s at Edmundson Pavilion.
Gaddy started 29 games last season, however, coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t include him among the returning starters (Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday and Isaiah Thomas) when practices began 2 1/2 weeks ago.
Gaddy began training camp locked in a battle with senior Venoy Overton, however, Overton re-injured his hamstring on the second day of camp and has not practiced. Overton will not play Saturday and he’s expected to return Monday with hopes of being available for the Nov. 13 season opener against McNeese State.
Romar declined to name a fifth starter. He admitted he’s got many options ranging from forwards Darnell Gant and freshman Desmond Simmons, 7-foot center Aziz N’Diaye or small forwards Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox and freshman Terrence Ross.
Here’s a snippet of Romar’s press conference.
— On the decision process to determine the fifth starter: “I think where we’re at right now is do we go big or do we go small to begin the game because throughout the game we’ll go both and depending on the matchup. If we play a team with a huge front line, we’ll probably be bigger the majority of that game. If we play a quick small team that has a very versatile lineup, 4-5 ball handlers on the floor, we’ll probably spend more time going small throughout that game. This year, maybe more than any year the starters don’t matter. They’ll be situations where we start to sub really quickly. I don’t like to disrupt lineups all the time unless you have to.”
— On Ross: “(He’s) arguably is the most talented player on our team but is right now trying to figure things out. All of sudden tomorrow, a week from now, two months from now – I don’t know when it will be – he has figured it out. A guy like that, he’s a pretty good mix to any combination. So as guys emerge and guys go out in practices and games and just show you … when those guys do that, you have to play them. Players determine playing time.”
— On Overton having a chance to compete for a starting spot: “Absolutely. Absolutely. He’s really good. When he’s on the floor, when he’s concentrating, he changes the game. It just comes down to chemistry and where we are at that point, but most definitely. Venoy Overton does not have to prove himself to me. He’s proven himself.”
— On Gaddy winning the starting job Saturday on merit or by defalut: “That’s hard to answer. I know Abdul has played really well. He’s been playing pretty consistent. He’s an improved player from last year.”
— On differences between Gaddy and Overton: “I see him (Gaddy) as a guy you gain an advantage with, but I think we gain an advantage when Venoy is in the game too. It’s a good situation to be in where you have two players that are entirely different, but yet bring really good contributions to your team.”
— Any surprises during practice? “We’ll be able to play Aziz and Matthew together. When we recruited Aziz that was hopefully what we would be able do, but we’ve seen how it can be effective.”
— On Wilcox: “I think he’s earned the respect of everyone in our program with the way he shoots the basketball. He’s just got such good quickness. And he’s very smart. He has an uncanny ability to just find the open area and get a shot off. Some of that has to do with his speed. Some of that has to do with his confidence. He just kind of knows where the gaps are. He reads the ball really well.”
— On if he’d like to have someone redshirt every year: “If it were possible. I think it’s good. I think it helps your team stay experienced, a little older whoever that is. When they become an upperclassman, they’re a much better basketball player. I think of Darnell Gant and this would be his senior year if he wouldn’t have redshirted. But now he’s turned the corner to where he totally understands what’s going on and he’s been a part of our success the last couple of years and he has another year after that.”
— On if the roles are being defined: “I think we need to play some games. Because there are some guys who are gamers and they’re are some who aren’t. So we have to wait and see.”
— On the difference between Justin Holiday and Thomas as leaders and Quincy Pondexter: “Quincy was probably more like the grandfather of the team. Everyone is running around playing and he’s just over on the side watching them. … Whereas these guys here, they’re kind of more so to speak. Quincy did a fine job. He did alright, but there’s different ways to do things. And Jon Brockman was more like Quincy. He was more where he had a couple of guys that he hung with, but he was more kind of like the sheriff of the team.”
— On if N’Diaye could start: “He’s definitely a candidate. Because he’s good. He changes the game. He’s got such presence. You watch him post up and he takes up it looks like six feet of space that he takes up. He’s not a big wide body, he’s just long and tall. And he knows he’s big and he knows how to use it. On the glass, when he goes up and boxes out. We had a practice – I had to play it back and watch it – there was a skip pass over his head to the other side of the floor. He turns and seals his guy. Well what he didn’t realize was the guy that was open, his defender was closing out and he sealed him too. He didn’t know. There was just that much space and there’s two guys standing behind Aziz struggling trying to get through there and they can’t go anywhere. He’s a very smart defensive player. He can go out on ball screens at 7 foot and get low. You’ll see how low he gets. He can show and get back. When guys penetrate, he shifts over. He changes the game.”
***Updated 5:30 p.m.*** — Had a chance to catch a quick glimpse of today’s practice. Bryan-Amaning watched from the sideline and Gant was working on free throws while the rest of the team ran through drills. Earlier, Romar mentioned some players had nagging injuries, but didn’t give any details. I’m assuming Gant and Bryan-Amaning are those players.
Overton was also off on the sideline running sprints. I spoke with him earlier and he said he feels about 80 percent recovered from the hamstring injury.
And finally, freshman walk-on Antoine Hosley was being treated with what looked to be an ankle injury.