Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
It's getting hard to gone on with this. The bad news seemingly never ends: Alford's contract is worse than we thought, no verbal commitments for 2014 and Chianti is still here.
I had a poll in my last post, in which we voted for what we thought the starting line up will be on November 8. Of 181 votes cast, 61% voted for the lineup of: Anderson, Adams, Powell, Parker, and Wear. The other 39% were scattered over the other choices. I'm not able to draw any secondary conclusions from those votes, but the majority lineup is comprised of the players we are already familiar with--the lineup with relative experience in this college world of one and dones and transfers.
In this post, I will put forth a new poll. I'll ask what you think the lineup will be by the start of the league season. Its a combination of where you think Alford is going (don't let it hurt your brain), projecting the trajectory of the players including the new ones, and a fair amount of wish fulfillment.
But first, let's start with a review of the winning lineup from the previous poll.
1) Experience. 10 years ago you would laugh at this characterization, but today it's true. We have two players, Anderson and Jordan, who should be preseason favorites for the All PAC-12 team. We have a senior, Travis Wear, who has proven to be a more than adequate role player. The remaining two, Powell and Parker, we have hopes that they can fulfill their potential. This is a solid group of five.
2) Size. This is a big lineup. The smallest man, Powell, is 6'3-6'4 with hops and athleticism. True, last year's leading rebounder might be away from the basket on offense, and we have to take a leap of faith that Parker and Wear will be able to stay on the floor and rebound. Coach Schilling, are you hearing me?
I'll discuss the weaknesses below, but it is important to actually take advantage of your strengths... embrace your "bigness." That's easier said than done. Ask the Lakers, and their two versions of the twin towers over the last two seasons. It's worse in college because the guards are afraid to make the entry pass, and the coaches don't push for it. Oddly, Howland's hedge worked because he knows this about college guards.
Parker is a key to utilizing this strength. Multiple reports say he lost around 18 pounds-that's a good sign. I do have high hopes. I've commented numerous times that I really like the way Parker backs down his man. Now we need to the offense to get him the ball down low. Kyle might just be the man to do it. Further, Parker will need to lock up the lane on defense because there will be a lot of guard penetration against us. Zone should be a significant part of the defensive mix, along with crashing the board on offense but sending the guards back to protect against the run.
3) Perimeter shooting. Not exactly when these five are on the court together, but any combination of Adams, LaVine and Alford might be able to light it up from beyond the arc. It may be a leap of faith. Alford might be to slow to get his shot, LaVine might turn out to be more of a slasher, and Adams is coming off an injury and did not have a stellar 3PT %, but I feel better about the shooting than I have in at least 5 years.
1) Speed and Athleticism. Let's face it, this five is earth-bound and slow as molasses-Powell not withstanding. The bright side is that this lineup is probably on the floor together for around 16 minutes, and Lavine and Bail off the bench with Powell completely change the dynamics.
2) Bench Strength. We didn't have it last year. I'm calling it a weakness now because it is still an unknown. I believe in LaVine, but Alford, Allen and Bail could be busts.
3) Defense. This starting lineup has an inherent issue with the point guard crossover. Powell guards the #1 and Anderson guards the 3 if Wear and Parker are also on the floor--while Anderson runs the point. It's not ideal, and consumes energy while Anderson and Powell have to find their man on the way back in transition. Meanwhile, Wear doesn't play defense at all, and again, it a slow lineup.
4) Point guard play. This has been discussed ad nauseum. Let me just say that it is another unknown.
Although I've devoted more ink to the weaknesses, I do think this is a solid bunch. I expect Adams and Anderson to make the big freshman to sophomore leaps, both Powell and Wear to be more than adequate as role players, and finally, Parker to be on a solid path to success--that is, I think he is a four year player who will steadily improve..let's just hope he's not a crybaby who ultimately transfers.
What lineup am I hoping for? Anderson 1, LaVine 2, Adams 3, Bail 4 and Parker 5. Certainly there is wish fulfillment here: Bail is just a highlight reel unknown. But if this lineup does come together, three of the weaknesses above, athleticism, defense and bench strength possibly turn into strengths. Unfortunately, I just don't have high hopes for the point guard situation on defense. I think the motion offense will hide deficiencies (recall that our bragging Olympic point guard coach, Steve Alford, was a shoot first player) on the offensive end, but the situation will never be ideal. I don't believe LaVine is a solution. This is a video of Lavine recently at Pauley. He is 6'5" and all legs. With gains in the upper body, he may just be an ideal NBA two, but point guard--no. In a tough situation, I'm putting the best players on the floor with no obvious defensive man-to-man solution at 1. Powell instead of Bail is also interesting. The team is smaller, but the guard matchup is better. Powell, LaVine and Bail would be freakishly athletic--when was the last time we saw that at Pauley.
OK, on to the poll. What's your lineup in January?