I agree that the loss of AD has definitely hurt this year. From a toughness and leadership standpoint, as well as providing a guy that can get to the rack from the wing and make things happen.
Also, I think that the athleticism of this current team is either 1) exaggerated somewhat or 2) not translating into production. If I remember correctly, basically all of the team previews talked about the great athleticism, getting out in transition, dunks and alley-oops. In reality, that has not happened. Gabe and Holden themselves last year combined for way more dunks than the whole of this team. We have already talked about Jesse’s lack of fluidity. Tim is very skilled and has good size, but is not a leaper. JG does his part running the floor. MS and SW are definitely athletes, but neither has been able to lock down consistent minutes.
Long term, I don’t think this is a major concern, as I think all of these young guys will improve, just an observation that they have not gotten the easy baskets this year that their athleticism implies and that they would need to be an upper echelon team. Think of a Holy Cross for example.
Lastly, the toughness term has been thrown around a lot, and could not be more accurate. This team just does not have nearly enough of it, and I think pafan is spot on.