In this grind-it-out slugfest, there were some borderline professional prospects on display. UMass managed to squeak out a win despite fairly poor clock management late in the game. On most possessions, they waited far too long to move into their half court sets- as a result, they took some poor shots. With that said, they were excellent enough on the defensive end to overcome their offensive woes. Not only did the Minutemen limit perennial star Chris Wright inside, but they also closed the gap on wings Chris Johnson and Paul Williams to prevent dribble penetration. While freshman point guard Juwan Staten had an efficient outing, UMass was able to get back in transition and completely control the tempo of this game.
Chris Wright- While this contest did not reveal many of the intricacies of Wright's game due to his limited usage offensively, some trends could be discerned. First and foremost, it is clear that Wright thrives as a transition player, looking to get out and run for breakaway dunks on virtually every occasion. Moreover, in the half court, Wright functions predominantly as a face up big man, with the ability to put the ball on the floor and the strength to finish through contact inside. This season, Wright has struggled to connect on many of his mid range shots, evincing a form that needs a great deal of work. Like many tremendous athletes, Wright struggles to maintain a consistent lift on his jump shot. Moreover, Wright's handle is not as finely tuned as it needs to be in order to achieve success at the next level. On a similar note, he must improve his court vision in order to limit turnovers. Despite his limitations, Wright is one of the most physically developed players in college basketball. He sports a chiseled physique, and uses it in post up situations. Further, he is an excellent run-jump athlete who can block shots in a Lebron-esque fashion out in transition. So far this season, Wright has been more aggressive defensively, but must work on keeping himself out of foul trouble so that he can develop a rhythm on both ends of the floor. At this stage, Chris Wright is nothing more than an undersized power forward because of his limited basketball skillset. If he can improve his decision making, mend his awkward shooting form, and develop more of a handle, Wright should become an NBA player- as he already has the strength and athleticism to succeed at the next level.
Juwan Staten- This promising freshman demonstrated his ability to get to the basket in this contest. Not only was he willing to drive and hit open teammates for easy baskets, but he was comfortable attacking the hoop himself. In this contest, Staten looked particularly poised in Dayton's half court sets. Given the fact that UMass did an excellent job of limiting Dayton's transition baskets- a staple of their offensive production- Staten remained under control and proved to be a standout decision maker. He was able to move the ball on the perimeter and generate countless open looks for wings Paul Williams and Chris Johnson. Not only does Staten possess a unique court vision, but he also plays fairly hard on the defensive end. While it was difficult to assess his lateral quickness against Gary Correia, it was clear that he at least put in effort on this end of the floor. Despite these strengths, Staten must improve as a shooting threat in order to keep defenses honest. Look for Staten to continue to develop as the season progresses into one of the nation's best young guards.