With one scrimmage under their belts, the basketball Bulldogs move forward looking for certainty at key positions. In Saturday's action, marked by two twenty minute sessions and an additional overtime simulation, fans got a glimpse at the future and saw the return of a few familiar veterans. The White team, anchored by Jarvis Varnado won an up and down contest 114 - 94. Although players changed sides repeatedly, Varnado and Bost notably spent almost all with the winning group.
True freshman Dee Bost handled most of the point guard duties and didn't disappoint, totalling 34 points on the afternoon. If the 2008-2009 Bulldogs hope to win at their accustomed pace, Bost will be a key factor. What may surprise many is his ability to shoot the ball. Dee looked comfortable on the perimeter, going 5-8 from long range. When closely guarded he also has the quickness and handle to twist ankles and draw the extra defender.
Another factor in the development of any college basketball team would be the progress of second year players. Ravern Johnson looked very smooth and self-confident offensively and led all scorers with 35 points on 13-22 shooting, 2-7 from beyond the arch. Ravern was especially efficient shooting from mid-range, on dribble penetration, and in transition. This might provide what has been missing in the Bulldog arsenal for some time, and effective scorer on the wings. Johnson will have to continue improving his defensive intensity but, as the Coaches have pointed out, that's an area that he has the length and athleticism to make up ground quickly.
Elgin Bailey is lighter, quicker, and more responsive physically. He looks like a "live" athlete now. The key words with Elgin are "active" and "aggressive." He really entered the program with those attributes but now has the confidence and understanding to go along with them. It's not certain whether he'll start or not, but he figures to be a valuable rotation player from tip to finish.
While Dee Bost, Ravern Johnson, and Elgin Bailey all seem to be emerging favorites, one shouldn't forget another freshmen. Romero Osby is a point forward in the true sense of the word. He plays facing the basket and possesses triple threat capability. Osby also has the ability to work the boards, carrying a 6'8" 230 frame. Conventional wisdom says that he'll come off the bench most, if not all, of his freshmen year. This is another young Bulldog who may be playing like a veteran well before his time. Romero chipped in 23 pts, including an official 4-4 from distance.
What unnerves this writer, and most discerning fans, is the reliance on so many new faces. Barry Stewart resumes his role at shooting guard, only this year he takes back seat to no one in terms of leadership. Barry is overcoming a foot injury sustained over the summer, but brings the familiar "icewater" presence to a team that will appreciate his experience. Barry had a low key performance scoring 24 on 7-18 shooting.
The back line and the bottom line will be Jarvis Varnado, and he anchored the Maroon Team, scoring 26 on 10-14 shooting while bringing down 14 rebounds. Brian Johnson, who most believe will be a role player contributed a quiet 5 points. Notably absent were Riley Benock and Twany Beckham. Beckham reportedly suffered a foot injury earlier in the week and will be sidelined up to four weeks.-005