We played as bad as can be—We played one of the worst games of basketball a team can play. When you shoot 31, 17, and 41% on field goals, 3s, and free throws, you should be blown out regardless of who you are playing. Instead, we had two shots at the buzzer, JA at 2nd half and ML at 1st OT, they just didn’t go in. Kentucky struggled to beat Miami (OH) yesterday, the only difference is their shot went in and now everyone talks about how much character they showed and found a way to win while the narrative on UCLA is that we are young and rebuilding.
ND is in a slump—ND was not forcing shots last night. In fact, almost every single one was within the flow of the offense and shots that he has to shoot to keep the offense working and the defense honest. He simply is in a shooting slump like JS was last year. He is too good of a shooter to stay this bad for long, but it might be a week or two until he regains his old form. He did play well grabbing the 14 rebounds (something DG sure didn’t do well last night) and had a couple hassle plays that led to baskets.
RN is fools gold—I really like RN and think he will be a solid contributor, but all of the people thinking that he should be our star player is mistaken. At this point, RN is lost on defense and is a black hole on offense. If you throw the ball to him in the post, he is going up for a shot. Now this is a good thing to a point, but he forced some ugly shots in there. He was in the right place at the right time on the putback of the airball going into halftime, but its not like he was dominate. If he was quicker, I would love to see him develop into a LRMAM combo forward, but I dont’ think he has the lateral quickness to do that.
ML needs to be our point, not JA—This is the biggest thing, JA is not a starting point guard. I said it before and I’ll keep saying it all year, our best lineup is ML, MR, ND, JK, and DG. JA doesn’t play the same level of defense as previous Bruin guards as he is just not as quick as DC, RW, JH, or ML. Compounding matters, he does not have very good court vision (the inbound pass that he threw away was atrocious) compared to ML’s (such as when he found JA under the basket). Finally, JA has NO OUTSIDE SHOT. This was killing us when Fullerton went to the zone because JA wouldn’t even look for his shot, and when he finally did shoot because he was so wide open, he wasn’t shooting with confidence and his shots had no chance of going in. He can be a suitable backup, but he should not be our starting point guard.
I’m viewing this season like a locomotive, slow start but should get going pretty well—If you were expecting us to dominate from the start of the season, you need to get in touch with reality. We are playing players who have hardly any game experience. In fact, yesterday was probably the most minutes that any of our players have played since maybe a random AAU game. CBH’s defense looked good, but not yet great. ND’s shot will come back. DG will hopefully learn to boxout instead of just jumping. ML will get more comfortable and slow down. MR will continue to be solid. RN will be a sparkplug off the bench. As for the others, they are the wildcard. I have already stated my opinion of JA. MM looked very timid and lost in his minute of play. TH didnt show me much in the exhibition game to think he is going to have a major impact. JMM’s lack of aggression is going to keep him off the court. If one of these guys can put it together, then who knows. Otherwise, I think we will still be about the number 3 team in the Pac 10 at the end of the season.
This was the first of approximately 35 games, its a looooooooong season--It was also the first meaningful playing time for literally our entire team. Further, injuries all preaseason have severly limited practices and CBH's ability to implement his system fully. Things will get better. But, if you would rather make snap judgments about how bad CBH is and how bad our recruiting is and make a fool of yourself, go right ahead. Otherwise, enjoy the ride of watching CBH develop the next generation of Ben Ball Warriors.