One rule of thumb that you have to remember when you project for the future is that guys who are role players early in their career rarely, if ever, turn into PTPers later. My man, Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com) has done statistical analysis on this fact and proves that it is extremely rare for a guy to change from being a bench player to being a team's go to guy.
The one exception is a guy who gets buried on the bench as a freshman can morph into a stud as a soph, a la Earl Clark. Look at Jerry and Edgar as perfect examples of this theory. They are the same players today that they were 4 yrs ago.
With that said, I don't see any of our upperclassmen transforming into Larry O'Bannon over the summer. Preston, as much as I love you it looks like you're heading to a Brandon Jenkins career. Kuric, Swop, and TJ may be solid role players next year but I just don't see any averaging more than 10-11ppg next year in a best case scenario.
This all means our entire season next year will hinge on the development of Siva and Buckles. I'm eliminating Marra because I just don't see the confidence in his game that you need to be a next level star. On top of that he clearly did get a chance to shine this year and rarely took advantage. Also, since we've already seen consistent flashes of what Siva does (and if he just gets more minutes he will be a star) it will really depend on what Rock can become. He defintiely has the size and athleticism to be a consistent double-double guy, but does he have the mental fortitude to handle the pressure Rick puts on his starters. If he can fill he gaping hole left by Earl Clark @ the 4 that will allow a lot of other gaps to be filled by other players in other spots.
Its clear to me now also that the Samardo-TJ tandem isnt going to work. They both do the same things and don't compliment each other very well. What I think the Cal game showed us is that maybe we should have been looking for the Samardo-Buckles duo. Rock's quickness and motor makes up for what Samardo lacks in athleticism and toughness. I think those two make the most sense together, much more than Samardo and Swop or Samardo and TJ. I also think a frontline of Samardo, Rock, and Swop makes the back end of our zone a whole lot tougher than when we had Delk or Kuric back there this year. We were woefully small and unathletic on defense this year, anything that we can do to get longer and more agile the better. Offensively, Buckles finishes at the rim as well as anyone on the team, is a much better passer than TJ, and Swop can be as good of an outside shooter as anyone who played the 3 this year.
One other aspect of the past few seasons that I think needs to be addressed this summer is the lack of a definite position for many players. Maybe it was because we didn't have a true PG but doesn't it feel like we always have guys playing out of their natural position. I mean who looks at Kyle Kuric (while he's crashing your cousin's wedding) and think I bet that guy plays forward for an elite college basketball team.
Rick, take some notes here, Kuric is a guard, Marra is a guard, Swop is a small forward, if you play them out of position they are going to get beat by the guys on the other team that is playing his natural position. Woud you rather have an weak undersized powerforward or a 6'7" small forward who can knock down the 3 and defend from the rim to the boundry. Would you like a white 6'3" white guy boxing out the opponent's center (because your center thinks rebounding is below him) or would you like to have the league's best rebounding guard coming off the bench to spell the league's best on-ball defender. Next year we will have plenty of moving parts, my question is will Rick finally put them together in the right order to get the maximum result.
With that said, here's my favorite game to play (much like mike's if the BET started today game):
What will next year's rotation look like?
1- Peyton Siva, Russel Smith, Elisha Justice
*getting Dieng has to be Pitino's main objective before he heads to the Caribbean. If we don't get Dieng then Van Treese definitely seems primed to become our junkyard dog rebounder/shot blocker off the bench.
This lineup also allows Preston, Kuric and Marra to rotate to keep each other fresh (and even allows Preston to spell Siva at PG as well). It also opens up the logjam @ the 4/5 position and allows for everyone to fit in where their skills best allow them. The last great issue is what if Justin Coleman is so good that we can't keep him off the court. If that's our biggest problem then we'll probably be talking about our sweet 16 opponent at this point next year instead of waiting for Wayne Blackshear to show up save the day.