Less Hinges on Freshman than on Layman & Dodd.
Amidst the exodus, much of the sentiment of the fanbase has hung the prospects of next season's success on the production of the incoming freshman class. This is not insignificant, but I think more significant is whether Layman and Dodd will turn the corner and elevate their game.
We know what we will get from Dez, that's a known commodity. I also think defenses will be keying on him very aggressively and he'll be contending with double and triple teams.
I also think we've seen Smo's ceiling. I only pray he finds a way to improve some footspeed and a serviceable defensive game in the offseason, but assuming we get the same Smo from last year, I'm not expecting much hinges on him.
Sure, a lot will bear on Trimble's ability to NOT turn the ball over. I also expect a fair amount of rookie mistakes paired with flashes of exciting potential. But the success of the season doesn't rest on his shoulders. Hopefully Nickens, Wiley, Reed, & Cek will offer some decent minutes and production while the starters get a breather. But I doubt they are going to be a game-winner determinant.
Dodd and Layman however are the big question marks in my mind. They are ripe for turning the corner. Hopefully with their added maturity comes the confidence so necessary for Dodd to establish himself with big man presence in the paint and for Layman to slash with some authority and to shoot with some consistency. I think more hinges on the ability for both of these guys to improve than on what production we'll see from the freshman. These guys have been in the program now, they are older, the responsibility in fairness is more deserving to rest on their shoulders than on the freshman.
We as a fanbase should recognize this with our critique and support and place this responsibility on Dodd & Layman's shoulders first. I hope Dodd and Layman also see it this way, and thrive on the pressure, and work their assess off over the summer. Only time will tell if they are able to turn the corner. some do and some don't.