What I'll be looking for at the Pro - Am

We're roughly two weeks away from the return of the PBC Pro-Am to the Greentree Sports Complex on June 18th. I look forward to the summer league every year because of the intimate setting and some respite from the longest off season in American sports. While it is certainly less structured than the regular season and performance doesn't always carry over, it does give us an advanced preview of the upcoming season. Here's what I'll be looking for.

1) Who is taking an early lead at PG?

While the newcomers will likely only play in the final 4 contests, we will get to see what Derrick Colter and Marvin Binney are able to do. I'll be keeping tabs on them with the traditional measures like assists and turnovers. Given the sloppy nature of the league and the overall rust we see from players particularly with finishing, I'll be keeping track of shots created by each player as well. They both sound like quick and exciting players. On one hand, I hope to have a clear idea of who I think will win the starting job by the end of the Pro-Am. Of course, I'd be fine if both perform well enough that it remains too close to call.

2) What big man will make the most progress?

Last summer, Andre Marhold got noticeably better as the Pro-Am progressed which lead me to believe he was the favorite to start should Martins Abele have to sit out. I'm hoping to see one of Abele or Derrick Martin take similar steps forward. While I think Marhold is the favorite to start at "center," Abele and Martin both have a chance to push him and steal minutes. Improvement at Greentree would lead me to conclude they can.

3) A signal

I wish I could live tweet the summer league, but cell phone signal is hit or miss at the Sports Complex. Should the US ever come under nuclear or chemical attack, I'm heading to Greentree. Rumor had it the venue would change this year, but there are limits on how far a school can travel to a summer league. If you put the tournament in North Hills, West Virginia would not be able to attend. If you move it to the East End or deep into the South Hills, the Pro - Am would be too far for YSU. Options are limited so we'll sweat it out at the sports complex.

4) Who will create their own opportunities?

The returning players inability to create their own shot troubles me more than anything about the upcoming season. I'll be watching closely to see how many unassisted baskets our players score and whether or not Jeremiah Jones and Quevyn Winters live up to their billing as slashers. I've seen too many people dismiss the loss of BJ Montiero, but he was the most reliable 2011-2012 Duke off the dribble. His loss creates a void  larger than the one TJ McConnell created simply because there is no clear replacement for his skill set. With Colter and Binney, we should find a serviceable point guard, but the question remains about whether or not we have a pure scorer.

5) Defense

While Ferry seems to play a loosey goosey system, it still was quite a bit stronger in terms of defensive shooting percentage than last year's Duquesne edition. I'm curious to see if the new boys can D it up and if some of the returning post players have improved.