We Are Where We Are -- Not Where We Will Be
Those who were complaining last night have to chill. Calling for zones, or other things we do not do, misses the perspective of where this team is, now, and the path it will have to take to get to where we want it to be, later. This is a young, inexperienced team. We lost 4 key players last year, all of whom can be called "starters" but for the fact that LMR, who had been a starter, was replaced by KL in the line up.
We return 2 experienced starters, DC -- who is spectacular, and JS who is playing well (but for the 3's -- sound familiar?). Roll, Dragovic, Keefe had very limited time last year; Aboya had more but still lacks experience. We are asking a lot from these players. Roll and Dragovic looked good -- Drago showing an inside game and some D, and Roll being the Roll of old, good D, passing and some success from outside. Keefe did not have a great game, but these guys will grow, rapidly, with more game time. I actually think we played best with Roll and/or Drago in the game. AA2 has never been an inside scoring presence and I'm not sure he will be this year. I wonder if trying to stay out of foul trouble is taming the monster in him. The freshmen, though incredibly talented, are freshmen. We have been spoiled by KL -- he was not a typical freshman. He came with a body, hands, knowledge and skill set that is rare in first year players.
The freshmen have been coached by CBH for a month or so. As good as they are, and as committed to D as they are, they really don't know how to play it yet. They will, later.
It is trite to call any game a "learning experience", but for them, all of these early games are learning experiences. On the whole, I think they looked very good -- save for a couple of them getting in foul trouble. These are FRESHMEN in the first week of their college careers -- let's cut them some slack. As good as he was, and he was as good as it gets, KL needed several games to find the path. These guys will be where we need them soon.
That said, the freshmen need time in the weight room. Ben Ball is built on muscle. As good as they are, they will be better when they are stronger. Best example? RW after a year with the weights.
Not being as strong as we will be and not playing the D we will play -- we allowed Miamioh to shoot better than 50% from both the field and behind the arc. Hard to win games when that happens. They stayed in the game at the FT line. We did not make FT's until the end of the game -- when they were essential. Had we made them all game long, we'd not have been in such a close game. (Sound familiar?)
The inside game? We've been here before. We do not have "strong hands" inside -- another function of youth and the need for strength. When the inside guys drop the ball, the ball stops going inside. We also had rebounds taken away from us. This, too, will get better. And, again, we were spoiled by KL -- but even he dropped some balls in the first few games.
A team with great talent, but not size and experience, will look better in a run and gun game than it will look in a half court game. We have a lot of guys who can run and make moves to the basket on a break -- but they are not as strong in a set offense. Last night, with the troubles inside, we really didn't run much of a set offense. Our ball movement wasn't there, and the screens not crisp and set. So, DC took over and slashed. Again, experience overcoming inexperience. Those screens will get stronger and more precise and our ball movement will happen. And, when we can confidently go inside/out, we will see more team O.
All of this should be no surprise to anyone who knows Ben Ball. THERE IS NO REASON TO PANIC. NO REASON TO CHANGE THE WAY WE PLAY. We are on the right path and we will get there.
Zones and full court presses? That's not who we are. Or, who we need to be to win it all. Pressing all game? First, Coach always had a very dominant big guy who played great D sitting back under the basket in case the press was beat. Second, teams today have better ball handlers and are harder to press. Third. Do you want to kill DC and JS who will have to play a lot of minutes while this team grows up? If so, give them the added responsibility of pressing.
We are a good team, not yet a great team, yet.
Were it not for the polls, I think our expectations would be more realistic.
I really cannot understand how anyone rates us TODAY, in the top 10. Doing so overlooks our youth and inexperience.
I think they are rating our year end potential not our current state.
We are going to lose some games along the way -- maybe soon. And, there are those who will wail and lament. Not me.
I've got my eyes on the prize. We will get where we have to be when we have to be there.