What Will Be Romar’s Rotation Without Suggs?


When word got out that Scott Suggs would miss 8-12 weeks, obviously our first thoughts were to feel bad for Scott, being this is his senior season and everyone was talking about how impressive he has been in summer. In addition, we felt bad that he would be forced to miss his homecoming game against St. Louis, as well as, possibly the games at Madison Square Garden against Duke and Marquette.

But, despite the enthusiasm we all have for what kind of season we think Scott Suggs can have, there has also been a feeling of confidence that Lorenzo Romar has put together a team that is deep enough to absorb his loss for a few weeks and come out alright. The big question now is, how will this affect the rotation for the first 1-2 months of the season?

Being that most of the non-conference games are of the  20+ point win variety this year, the exact rotation was probably not all that critical anyways. Romar likes to experiment with various combinations of players in different lineups in the early season. He goes 10 or 11 deep during this time to see who stands out, who plays defense, which players work best in tandem with each other. I don’t see the situation being much different with Suggs out. While I think you will probably see almost every possible combination, save for Aziz playing point guard, in the early season there are some combinations I suspect you will see quite a bit more of. Let’s take a look;

Lineup 1 – Traditional

(first player listed is likely to play the most minutes, not necessarily start)

PG- Abdul Gaddy/Tony Wroten

SG CJ Wilcox/Hikeem Stewart

SF Terrance Ross/Martin Bruenig

PF Darnell Gant/Desmond Simmons

C Aziz N’Diaye/Shawn Kemp Jr.

Lineup #1 looks like a traditional lineup with a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. I think you will see these combinations quite a bit this year. The player that seems most likely to inherent Suggs role on the team, if not his minutes, is CJ Wilcox. In a lot of ways, they are almost like clones of each other (although, no offense to Suggs, I think CJ Wilcox has a higher ceiling). CJ can shoot lights out from three, has a nice slashing drive to the basketball, and plays tenacious D. I think Wilcox was very much underappreciated for his terrific defense last season and will really be counted on this year as a stopper, especially with Overton gone. I also think Hikeem Stewart is going to get his chances at the 2-spot when Wilcox sits. While many think Hikeem is a year or two away from being a serious contributor, others who have watched him play say “watch out, when he gets a chance to play, you won’t be able to pull him off the floor, he is that good”.

Now, we all know Lorenzo Romar is not afraid to mix people up and does not like holding players to specific labels. So, you will also see some other combinations, perhaps some more than others.

Lineup #2 – Going Big and Athletic

1-spot Gaddy/Wroten

2-spot Ross/Wroten

3-spot Bruenig/Wilcox/Jarreau

4-spot Gant/Simmons/Jarreau

5-spot Simmons/Kemp Jr.

This team has so much length, so much athleticism, that Romar has the luxury to move players around and still get what he wants on defense. Most people assume Terrance Ross is moving to the 3-spot this year because of his height and the fact that the team has so many other guards. But, in the NBA Ross is going to probably be a 2-guard, and that is the spot that probably best fits his overall talents. Ross showed glimpses of greatness with his offensive moves last year, but was lacking on the defensive side of things. I remember saying to myself “how many times is he going to be beat off the dribble on the baseline or be out of position to allow a player to get an open-look?” I hope Ross is really focused on strengthening his defensive game, because he will need it if he plays at the 2-spot in the NBA.

Everyone knows how good of a passer Tony Wroten is. But, is he as committed to defense as Romar expects of his players? I hope so, because if he is, imagine a backcourt of Gaddy and Wroten on the floor at the same time? As good as Gaddy was getting last year before the knee injury, Gaddy still always seemed a bit slow on the defensive side of things. Wroten needs to make up for it, because we can not afford to have two guards who can be beaten off the dribble. As exciting as having them both play would be, if they can’t get the job done on defense, there are other guard who will.

Now, I know a lot of you are saying Bruenig and Jarreau at the 3-spot? A 6’9 and 6’10 player at small forward? Not that unusual in the NBA, if those players can get up the floor, can handle the ball, are a threat from long distance, and play intense defense. From what I have heard about Bruenig, he has the tools to fill the bill. He has a nice drive to the hoop, can shoot well from 3-point land, and can really run the floor. Whether he gets a chance to play at the 3-spot will probably depend more on his ability to transition to the college game as a freshman. But, if he can take on that role, he may be very useful in defending against the Wear Twins and/or Nelson Reeves at UCLA when they are playing small forward.

The real mystery is Jernard Jarreau. This 6’10” stick-figure was a guard in high school until his massive growth spurt. He is comfortable handing the ball, driving to the rim, and running the floor on transition. This could possibly make him more of an asset at the 3-spot than at power forward. I have not heard much about whether he is a threat from downtown. It’ll be interesting to see what Romar does with him.

Ultimately, it appears Romar has an amazing assortment of choices when it comes to his lineups, even without Suggs. I suspect we will probably see all of the combinations above, and even some I haven’t thought of in those games against powerhouses like Georgia State, Houston Baptist, and South Dakota State. But, the key games to watch, in terms of eyeing the Pac-12 season will be the St. Louis game, Duke, and Marquette. In those game, I think the rotation will be shortened (perhaps from 11 to 9 players) and Romar will be using them to make decisions of how we will play the conference games.

One way or another, it is going to be a fun season…