Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Obviously as Nestor recently noted, this is one of those good problems: a struggling senior leader with the potential to be a major catalyst vs. a pure shooter who is currently developing an above average all around game (albeit against lesser competition). Here's my question... Does it really have to be Roll vs. Shipp? What about Roll AND Shipp? We are currently seeing very little production from the 4, and this could be Howland's chance to really get this team playing toward its strengths. Kevin Love is not walking through the door. By that I mean the strength of this team and the potential of this team are not going to be realized through the post. We have to accept that this year's Bruins are going to win on defense (duh) and consistent perimeter shooting. Aboya has exceeded my expectations as a serviceable big man, with Gordon coming on as a more than competent backup. So at least we have that.
Plus, look at the Pac 10 this year. There isn't a team out there that relies on two big men (6-8+) on the court all or even most of the time. I'm not sure if we need to limit ourselves to a traditional lineup defensively, especially in creating offensive match-up nightmares for other squads. I'm not saying we need to eliminate Keefe and Drago's minutes, but I am saying Roll's minutes don't need to come from Shipp and vice versa. With Roll coming on as hot shooter, it clearly opens things up for other offensive weapons. And when you think of UCLA's offensive weapons Keefe and Drago are not names that come to mind. Drago has shown potential, but noticeably has not improved as a scoring threat despite the weak competition. Who can say that he will emerge as one against a tougher Pac 10 schedule (and then the tournament)? Roll has certainly played himself into the lineup, but has Shipp played himself out? I can't say that he would be any less of a defensive liability than Drago at the 4, and not considerably weaker than Keefe. He is strong and has decent size. Roll has become one of our better team defenders. If the defensive matchup isn't there, we can go back to the traditional lineup. The point is, we can be flexible.
The problem with playing a small lineup however is going to be rebounding. But the rebounds we are getting out of Keefe and Drago (about 8 per game) I believe wouldn't be completely lost if we just limit their minutes, not eliminate them. Shipp playing 15 like Tracy Pierson suggests is too few in my opinion. When he's healthy, he needs to start. But why not bring Roll off the bench for Keefe, rather than Drago. And then rotate Drago in for Shipp when he needs a break. This way we can keep our shooters legs fresh, and we all know what tired legs can mean down the stretch of a close game. It really could be the difference in a game, and I would want Roll and Shipp taking that shot before Drago and Keefe anyday. For some reason I have more faith in Shipp than Drago despite the shooting slump. I can't say why, but at least he can put the ball on the floor and kick it if necessary.
Even thinking about the tournament, this kind of lineup doesn't have to be the be all end all. If we need the size, increase Keefe's minutes (maybe even throw Gordon out there with Aboya... imagine those two ripping down boards and getting the ball out to DC and JH with Roll or Shipp on the wing ready to spot up). The thing about this Roll/Shipp pseudo-controversy is that it opens up the possibilities we have with our lineups and match-ups. If Roll can sustain any sort of production, this team doesn't need Drago as much as it should or thought it would. Shipp's midrange game is far too valuable to sacrifice for Drago's inconsistency and Keefe's offensive deficiencies. And Roll as a spot up shooter cannot be undervalued either. In the end, I feel that we need to play to our strengths on offense and understand their limits on defense to know when not to play those two at the same time (Roll and Shipp).
Just some thoughts. Debate is welcomed and encouraged. And of course, this is all fan speculation, but think about it...DC, JH, JS, MR, AA/DG at least at some point during a game could give us an added scoring threat that is invaluable to a team that certainly lacks depth in terms of scorers. Haven't been this excited to see a non-conference cupcake at Pauley in while. In Howland We Trust. GO BRUINS!