Well the boys showed some ability and heart tonight. As it turns out our maligned guard play is not my biggest area of long term concern. JA did earn some minutes back, although I would still rather see them coming off the bench at the moment. Roll is a solid citizen and Lee showed that he can be a bonafide star down the line. Which brings me to my greatest concern and why I think we should go bigger.
Obviously our great guard play had enabled us to make our recent return to college hoops elite. But what seems to be overlooked is the importance centers have played in our success. Our first run was fueled by a Ryan Hollins senior season epiphany half way through the year. Lorenzo Mata, despite my personal reservations early in his career, manned the middle well enough as a legitimate center to allow another run. Then Kevin Love's greatness goes without saying. But what gets missed in having a center that can get the job done was how it allowed the Luc to be what he needed to be for the squad. Sure he was defensively good enough to guard opposing centers in a pinch, but his effectiveness logging the majority of his minutes there would have diminished his greatness. Last season we were forced to make due with a terrific Aboya elevating his game immensely for his senior season. Unfortunately he became our defacto center and the end result against Villanova left us all knowing despite his incredible season he is not a center.
We are now in a predicament where Reeves Nelson appears to be a special type of player. But watching him battle players like Aldrich and Varnado as well as other centers to come for the majority of his minutes will diminish what his real value will be if we can get a real center in there to free him up on the front line. Sure we can get away with this playing opponents without big men or those that play 3 guards or go small, but to take it to the next level it behooves the bruins to find a real center who can at minimum 'get in the way'. That is to say block some shots, take up space, rebound a little, keep balls alive, force opposing centers to work hard, etc.. Unfortunately that leaves us with Morgan. Morgan shows the size and strength at times that he in fact can man the middle well enough, then the next minute he tries to finish a play in the most impotent of fashion. I am sure it must be painful for Howland in practice. And that brings me back to Mata and Hollins and even Fey who had a trial so to speak. He forced them all on me. I remember thinking will Fey once in a while can make a shot, Hollins once in a while got after it to block a shot or grab a rebound and Mata I am not sure what he is doing, but he did get in the way. At times I thought we have better players than this and it was too much, but in the end it was the right thing to do. Last season due probably to higher expectations than in the past he went away from his own system in a sense by not giving Morgan the minutes to improve and therefore making his sophomore season our painful learning season. Now I realize we have Josh Smith coming in next season, but does anyone really believe he will be able to play that hedge well enough as a freshman to see the court in a meaningful way much next season? I really and truly believe CBH knows he needs to wipe that grin off Morgan's face and ride him or any other big man who wants the minutes as far as they can help take our program. If only for Reeves Nelson we must get minutes from any center necessary. At minimum Smith could use a real sparring partner as a freshman.
I would assume in a practice situation Morgan must be guarding JK and ND who are probably money shooting from the perimeter in practice and exposing his worst flaws. That however is not what his real game experience nor his critical importance to our long term health is about. The only real experience a kid like that will get is in the game much to our dismay. Learning what is like to take his licks and what he really needs to do to give it back. Punish him with minutes until he either gets a clue or transfers out. "Kid this is who we need you to be now show up or move on." In my opinion we worried too much about making JK an interior player that he is not. He does not have the legs to hold his spot or leap in there no matter how much strength he added. In the end I think that was his downfall. He is a shell of a basketball player that now unfortunately may have his career ended. Now we have a wiry kid like Lane. I cringe when I heard the comparison to JK and not because of Keefe's shortcomings, but because I am worried we will try to make him something he is not. I am not sure how many people have played enough on the interior to know it is tough to battle in there and still be a good shooter. It is as mentally tedious as it is physically. When I hear Keefe hits 20 straight jumpers in warmups it did not surprise me in the least. This is another reason why getting that center and pushing them as far as they can go will allow your other basketball players to flourish.
Lastly I would love to see Stover get some minutes somehow especially if Keefe is now done for the season and he is not going to redshirt. If he as at least a shot blocker than that is something of merit that we could use and develop.
Sorry for the rambling. I am just trying to keep hope alive in my mind. And here is a minutes breakdown from recent seasons...
stats to look through for hollins, mata and even fey if you desire.
Morgan did not log enough to get on the breakdown last season.. and has logged a lower percentage and less effective in terms of rebounding, but more effective blocking shots in a tiny sampling thus far this season through the 1st 8 games.