So the first exhibition game is over, and it can be tough to process these games.
With Matt Painter's generous substituting -- my count was 11 lineups in the first half alone -- it was hard to get a read on how the team played as a group and in a flow.
Still, here are some observations:
- JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore played 19 and 16 minutes and were both on the bench to stay with 15 minutes left in the game. They looked like they should look: Dominant.
- Moore had the highlight plays of the game. In the first half he took two hard left-handed dribbles from the top of the key to get him into the middle of the lane and then threw down a hard right-handed slam. The play was so impressive it even drew a smile from Moore, who rarely shows emotions on the court. Early in the second half, Moore drove and was fouled so hard, he was stumbling away from the basket. But he flipped a shot up with his right hand, falling away, and it went in. He made the free throw for the three-point play.
- Johnson spent some time guarding on the perimeter and looked pretty fluid and active. He did a lot of helping, too, and usually got to the right places in time. I was a bit curious if defending away from the basket would hurt Johnson's rebound total, but he seemed to crash the boards hard and finished with a team-high eight. Johnson also played without a t-shirt under his jersey, and it's obvious that he put his work in during the offseason. You can see the muscles in his arms, and his shoulders look bigger.
- One of Johnson's new duties with Rob Hummel out of tthe lineup is taking the ball out on inbounds plays. He forgot to do it once -- and Painter had to wave him over to the sideline.
- Sophomore Patrick Bade looked much improved. As I've written here, he toned his body and that's helped him with quickness and stamina. He went up and snatched some rebounds and made two of three shots, one on a pretty put-back. His play of the game: On the next play after getting the putback, Bade got the ball stolen. Instead of pouting, he raced down the clock and blocked Adrian Moss' layup attempt off the backboard. Bade wouldn't have -- couldn't have -- made that play last season.
- Ryne Smith got the start with Lewis Jackson, Johnson, Moore and Bade. He made a pair of three-pointers and scored nine points. He's a steady, heady player who could be important this season.
- Give kudos to D.J. Byrd. Even though he was primed and excited to play more guard this season, he's adjusted back to his role of being more of a post defender without Hummel. He looks more aggressive and confident. He took two charges and had five rebounds.
- Painter said point guard Kelsey Barlow deserved to start because he's been fantastic in the team's scrimmages. Painter said Barlow had 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the most recent scrimmage. But coming off the bench on Tuesday, Barlow struggled. He ahd six turnovers and one assist in 15 minutes.
- There will be plenty about the freshmen in Wednesday's story in the JG, so check that out. But I thought they looked very much like freshmen: Showing the promise and the learning curve.