Crystal LoGiudice-US PRESSWIRE
The Tigers open the exhibition season against Victory.
You've read the scrimmage report. Maybe, you even read the game notes. We attended last Saturday's scrimmage, and while we knew not to expect to have all our questions answered, here are a few things we expect to see during tonight's exhibition game against Victory (tip-off at 7 p.m. CT).
Frankie Sullivan (6'1, 206) -- The senior guard from Uniontown has all the things that make him an All-SEC candidate -- size, speed, agility -- but he has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons that limited his minutes on the court, but head coach Tony Barbee has repeatedly said that No. 23 is now 100 percent. Sullivan was just 3 of 9 for eight points on Saturday, but he had three rebounds, two assists and two steals in twenty minutes.
Expectation: Effective game management and more consistent shooting. We are looking for the Sullivan that ignited his team before his injury.
Josh Wallace (5'10, 170) -- The Pensacola, Fla., native, also known as the guy on an engineering scholarship, returns for his senior season on a basketball scholarship. Barbee has always praised the guard for playing bigger than his size. His shot has improved over the years and so has the pace of his relentless defense. No. 11 had six points, two rebounds and one steal in Saturday's scrimmage.
Expectation: Setting the tone early for defense and creating scoring opportunities from steals. More or less the same of what we always expect from Wallace, which isn't a bad thing at all.
Rob Chubb (6'10, 255) -- The senior center from Peachtree City, Ga., gets his height from his former collegiate athlete parents -- a basketball player and a volleyball player. No. 44 had a double-double on Saturday with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Barbee has stated several times in the preseason that Chubb is playing with the size and confidence of a senior center.
Expectation: Blocks, blocks, blocks. We hope for softer hands for those post offensive-rebound shots.
***The College and Magnolia staff has wished for another Hawaii game just so we can bring back #latenightchubb. Oh well.
Noel Johnson (6'6, 205) -- The Clemson transfer hails from Fayetteville, Ga., hasn't seen much time because of a wrist injury to his shooting hand last season, so we still don't know a whole lot about the senior guard/forward. Barbee has been pleased to see him step up as a leader on the team. No. 32 was 1 for 2 on Saturday with a total of 3 points.
Expectation: Given it is a preseason game, Noel should have the opportunity to properly set up his shot and give us an idea of his shooting range. He's got skills, but an injury to the shooting hand can definitely shake a guy.
Allen Payne (6'6, 215) -- The junior forward from Cincinnati is back after a late season-ending injury against Arkansas last year. No. 22 can hound an opponent on defense with the same energy as Wallace but has the length the Barbee looks for in a defender.
Expectation: Picking up from where he left off last season. Great speed and cerebral play on defense but we are eager to see him take a few more shots.
We expect junior guard Chris Denson (6'2, 175) to come in for the offensive kick. Well, Denson is ineligible for the fall. So much for that. We also anticipate Barbee will work in the newcomers as well -- Brian Greene Jr. (6'3, 200) at point guard, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum at center (7'0, 230), Shareif Adamu (6'8, 235) at forward. Be on the lookout for the Shaquille Johnson (6'5, 210), Jordon Granger (6'8, 215) and Jordan Price (6'5, 225), too.
Three early-season non-conference games -- Murray State, Illinois and Florida State -- will be the biggest indicators of team chemistry before they head into conference play. Win those, and the confidence will be there to storm through the schedule.