If there's anything we should take from tonight's game, it is the need for us, the fans, to be patient. Let's address some of the postgame comments by fans, starting with the one that has the easiest answer.
"Collison got fouled on that last shot!"
- Yes, Collison did get hit, but if you're counting on that call late then you're in trouble. We've been the beneficiary of late no calls before and now we're on the other side of it. We didn't deserve the whistle anyways. Michigan outworked us and wanted it more. They got the W they deserved.
"Holiday needs to begin to assert himself"
- We were spoiled by Kevin Love last year. Freshmen don't step in and know exactly what to do and when to do it. Holiday does need be more aggressive because two second half shots isn't enough, but that will come with experience. Our offense is very precise and requires a lot of people to do their job well to get the shot we want, but Holliday is a special talent who can score outside of the offense. When should he stay within the offense and when should he get the quick bucket outside of the offense? When should he demand the ball? When should he look to spread the court and when should he go to the bucket? When is he going to focal point of the possession and when will Shipp or Collison or somebody else be the focal point? Those are all questions that will be answered in time and when they are, we'll see Holiday assert himself when needed.
"Play freshmen more"
- If we played freshmen more we wouldn't have been playing tonight. It was our seniors who got us through Miami (OH) and it's our seniors who need to lead this team. it doesn't matter if our freshmen are out of their minds because if we don't get production from the upper classmen we won't win.
Some freshmen aren't in shape yet (Morgan), some are overwhelmed by the college game (Anderson), some don't have the footwork (Gordon) and some don't know where to fit in offensively at times (Lee, Holliday). All of these things can be improved though. As Morgan practices and works out, he'll get in better shape. As Anderson plays more, he'll adjust to the speed of the game. As Gordon goes through practice, he'll improve his footwork. As the team plays more together, Lee and Holliday will find their niche. it can all be fixed, but it will all take time.
"Make adjustments to use our athleticism"
- We dont have the basics down yet so we're not going to work on massive adjustments. If we are having issues defending in the half court why would we teach our players a full court press? If our players don't know their rotations in the half court, how will they know where to be in the full court? You want to get out on the fast break? Well that requires stops on defense and effective forwards rebounding the ball that allow our guards to get out quickly. Keefe and Aboya are doing their very best, but they haven't played the type of minutes they're playing now so they have to learn. Gordon isn't comfortable throwing the outlet pass right now and Dragovic is just understanding the concept of coming back to the boards.
Now as we learn our rotations and defensive assigninments our defense will improve. We'll start forcing more turnovers to get into the open court and with time our big men will become more comfotable not only rebounding, but finding our guards with the outlet. We've got to lay the foundation before we can start building up.
Anybody who has been around trusts in Howland's ability to develop a team. N has preached over and over the similarities to our team in '05-'06. That team developed and so will this team. The weaknesses are evident and the coaching staff is well aware of them. There are a lot of questions surrounding this squad, but the easiest answer to these questions is patience. You want to fastbreak? Let the guys learn how to defend and we'll get easy baskets off of turnovers. You want Holliday to assert himself? Let him learn how to assert himself within the team concept.
So we're not a top 5 team right now. Big deal. Ask Duke what it's like to be a top 5 team for the first 4 months of the season and not make it out of the first weekend of the tournament. The easiest fix to our problems is time and patience. The team will be there in March, but if we, the fans, wring our necks over every little thing in November, we won't be there to watch it.