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What I'm Watching This Weekend

I know Concordia-St. Paul, Bowling Green and Georgia State don't excite. But that doesn't mean we won't be able to glean something about Tubby Smith's maroon and gold as the NABC Classic unfolds Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Here are a five things I'll be watching. And let me know what it is you are looking for.

1) Is Ralph Sampson III learning how to play physical basketball. His highlight reels and scouting reports all said the same thing, that he is still progressing as a basketball player and that he prefers or gravitates towards a finesse game. We saw Tubby Smith last year try and toughen up Dan Coleman to no avail. If the scouting reports on RSIII are true, Tubby surely has been working on him to attack the basket instead of falling away, to play physical underneath etc. Is RSIII going to use his size and play physical? We get our first answers this weekend.

2) Does Devron Bostick look comfortable? Reports coming out of preseason practices suggested that, of the newcomers, the JUCO junior transfer was having the most difficulty adapting specifically to Tubby Smith's coaching. He's supposed to be a scorer and might have the highest expectations because we remember Vincent Grier and Bobby Jackson. When Bostick has the ball, I'll be watching to see if he's forcing shots, or if he's playing tentatively and not taking a lane to the basket when it's presented.

3) Has Blake Hoffarber added an element? He's reportedly bulked up a little bit. Is he capable of backing down a defender? Posting up a smaller guard? Has he improved his quickness with the ball that would allow him to shoot off the dribble? Last year he was basically a catch-and-shoot guy. If he's added an element, watch out.

4) With Jon Williams and Damian Johnson both out with injuries, what will our post rotation look like? How effective will Paul Carter play be at the 4? Is Travis Busch going to play underneath regularly? Whatever the rotation is, it will be important for RSIII and Colton Iverson to play physical ball but stay out of foul trouble.

5) Lastly, one word: Tempo. Compared to the Dan Monson regime that tried to play it safe as a way to hide a lack of talent, Tubby Smith pressured the opposing offense and he pushed tempo most of the time. With this new team that has improved athleticism up front and more depth in the backcourt, how aggressive will they be. How fast will they play? I'll be watching the tempo statistics a lot this season to see how the Gophers are playing.