Let me get this out of the way. I hate losing. Watching our guys come up short absolutely sucks. But honestly, I think this is the first time I got a real glimpse of what these team is capable of becoming. We have always talked about potential, but so far on the season we’ve only seen it in moments. Well now those moments are stringing together on both the offensive and defensive end. What I saw was our guys taking the next step in that second half.
Against a favored top 10 team on the road, I finally saw some of the scrappy play, hustle, and heart that I’ve taken for granted over the past three years. The moments were fleeting, but they were there. It’s more than technical details. It’s attitude.
We don’t do moral victories. This was a loss. But I feel a hell of a lot better after this game than after
And swissbruin who got up at 3 am to watch our Ben Ball warriors from
Sure a loss always hurts but not so much like the one against
. First half wasn’t that good. Starting with some early turnovers and having problems to create something down the stretch. It was all on DC’s shoulders till second half when finally JS stepped up and took some shots. What keeps me positive is that we got a lot of room to improve. JH wasn’t a factor tonight as none of the other freshman. As the season goes on I’m sure they will be. The team showed a lot of heart in the second half getting back in the game from down 9 and hanging in there with the chance to even win this thing. Looking forward to see this team getting better from game to game. Michigan
I think what is giving everyone hope is the run this young team made in the second half. As T noted above building a team is lot more than just correcting and improving on technical details. It is also about developing a ferocious, relentless Warrior ‘attitude’ which has been the hall mark of our basketball program in last three seasons. We finally saw the first glimpse of that last night this season. The trick is now going to be for this team to find a way to sustain that attitude for a longer period of time while also playing smart and fundamentally sound basketball, which are other crucial attributes in the make up of a prototype Ben Ball warrior.
Since most of us are taking last night’s setback in stride, I am going to harp on some specific issues that needs to be addressed heading into rest of this non conference season:
FT Shooting: We only shot 5-10 from the line last night. It pretty much cost us the game. What is really disconcerting about the misses are they are coming from kids like JS, JH, and ND who are supposed to be good shooters. For the season as a team we are making a pathetic 63 percent of our free throws. JS is shooting at a rate of 64%, ND at 50%, MR at 25%, and JK at 13% (!!!!). These guys need to find a way to improve those percentages. We lost to the Wolverines by 3 points, missing 6 out of 11 FTs. Simply inexcusable. With the break we have in next few days, I sure hope this is an area the team focuses on before heading into the conference season. Our FT shooting is killing us right now. Period.
Front Court: AA2 was inspiring in the second half. He stepped up and showed that “will” which I referred to above as “attitude” which is an essential ingredient in the genetic makeup of a Ben Ball warrior. However, we need someone to help out AA2 in the frontcourt. JK showed up early as he was aggressive around the boards (in addition to knocking down those 3ds). But he sort of went missing after the early burst. ND has improved a lot from last year but he is also playing spurts. I don’t like how he still chucks up long bombs. He is still having problem being selective in his shots and he certainly needs to show lot more hustle and grit when it comes to going after the lose ball.
The key is going to be is the development of JM and DG. But as we are noticing right now they those kids have ways to in terms of getting into Ben Ball game shape. It will take time for them and we have to be patient.
Taking Charge/Will To Emerge As The Undisputed Captain(s): DC made the following the comments during his post game remarks:
"The bottom line is we need an inside presence," Collison said. "We have to give them time to get set and throw it down there. We can't be guard-oriented all the time. It's too easy to guard, too predictable. It's really going to start taking its toll on me and Josh, and we can only take so much individually. We can't carry the team all by ourselves."
Honestly, that comment bugs me a bit. I think whether he likes it or not he needs to get in the mentality of wanting to carry the team. AA and JF never complained about having to carry the team in their first two years, especially starting their second year at UCLA. JF never was shy about carrying the load. AA WANTED the ball. They wanted to be in charge. They relished it. DC is an amazing shooter. He has the touch and the athleticism. I think he still needs to amp up a little more inside in terms of leadership. This is his team and he needs to show lot more decisiveness on exactly how he wants to lead the team on the court.
JS: Speaking of emerging as a leader, JS continues to drive me crazy. If you look at his line he had a decent game scoring 15 pts, 3 offensive rebounds and 3 steals. He had those two spectacular dunks that ignited the second half run. Yet prior to that his game was poor to mediocre.
JH: The kid had a bad night. He knows it. He was getting torched all night long by Abrams which also took a toll on his offense. From the Daily News:
"Maybe that extra scorer (is needed), and I think tonight it should have been me,"
Holidaysaid. "I need to be more aggressive, especially offensively. I think after I missed a couple of shots, I really put my head down. Maybe I got a little discouraged."
Just going to touch on Jrue since expectations are sky high for him by Bruins. Jrue has a lot of talent which we can all see. Having said that, he is not at the level of a Rose/Beasley/Love/etc. from the prior class. This entire class is nowhere at their level. This isn’t to say he cannot achieve a lot this season. I just think that people need to show some patience and allow the kid to find himself on this team. Jrue is a humble kid and I’m pretty darn sure that he is deferring to DC/Shipp/Aboya because he is the freshman. His situation reminds me of Rudy Gay at UCONN. When Gay arrived as a FR, he had established players like Armstrong/Boone/Williams/Villanueva/Brown/Anderson/etc. and was focused more on fitting in as one of the guys. This used to drive Calhoun nuts because he was the most talented guy on that team. In 04-05, UCONN ended up going 23-8 getting beat in the 2nd round. The following season UCONN went 30-4, earned a #1 seed but lost to George Mason in the Regional Final in OT. This was achieved because Gay started to assert himself. I think Jrue is in the same situation. He is getting adjusted to major D1 ball and trying to figure out where he fits on this team. What is CBH expecting from him, what are his teammates expecting from him, when & how should he assert himself, how do I get open without the ball, etc. Besides DC, Jrue is the only other guy on our team that can get their shot off at will and/or create open/easy looks for others IMO. It may take some prodding from CBH and our leaders but I’m confident he’ll realize this sooner rather than later.
"That's a very tough loss," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.
Howland wasn't happy with the fact that his team had let the Longhorns shoot almost 44% from the field. Nor did he like the defensive miscues that had left
players open for key baskets throughout the game. Texas
"We made a lot of mistakes tonight," he said. "A lot of things we'll go back and watch on film."
More film session for our Ben Ball warriors. That should be fun for those guys. lol
Seriously, it will be fun to see this team develop an identity during the courts of next few games. We saw the glimpses last night. It’s now a matter of putting it all together in a consistent basis. With Coach Howland in charge we will get there.