Well, today we face the cold hard reality that as magical as last season was, this season figures to be a monumental struggle for survival.
But, before we set a framework for breaking it all down, I'd thought I'd post the picture of our good friend, brinkhater hater, and super non-contributor to this blog, Mr. Anonymous.
Anony: Guess what, Honey? I am going nowhere (and nowhere fast, I might add)...So either develop a take about how much I suck in spite of predicting our fortunes with over 95% accuracy, or quit smelling your fingers on this blog. Dig it?
Now back to our collective problems.
And while they are basic, they are nonetheless VERY troubling.
Two weeks ago, we started the whole high trap thing, which as noted here previously was a complete disaster. Today we showed the low-post double down which CLEARLY resulted in turnovers and a low total score. But, with a 46 (or something) percent percentage allowed, we're still scrambling A LOT more than last year. And, while I have been unwilling to give-in over the course of the season to this exact sentiment, TODAY we REALLY showed how much we miss Ivory Clark.
Last year, with Mr. Clark in tow, there were few double teams in the post. Instead, when one of the Lopez twins would spin toward the baseline to put the ball off the glass and in, Clark would come from the weakside and put the darn ball in the stands.
The other factor to consider is that when the post is doubled FROM the weakside big, the weakside boards are totally wide open. This leads to tap-ins from the weakside, kick-outs, and the like.
Obviously, we saw the consequences of that today.
Finally, while the low-post trap takes away SOME of the need for the 1-3 guys to rotate and scramble, it still causes rotation problems. And one of the things that made us so dangerous and effective last year was that we had NO rotation problems because players basically stayed home ALL the fricking time.
On one hand, you saw some really good offensive performances today by Low and Weaver. Unfortunately for us, those were all really good INDIVIDUAL offensive performances. Virtually NONE of our runs were generated out of set plays from our offense (beyond some isolations, which represent the paradoxical non-set, set plays).
As a result, when Stanford countered with their own runs, we had a hard time countering back because we had NO offensive flow the entire stinking game--even if we had some guys that were having some good individual offensive performances (in Weaver's case a career high).
As we noted on the blog earlier in the season, I noted that we had a VERY concerning lack of offensive structure. Following that post, we proceeded to EXECUTE and POUND the University of Southern California. Unfortunately, we have not been the same team since.
And so, we now head into a big loss on Thursday, followed by the GAME FOR OUR SEASON a week from today against SC.
Our goal now: finish in the top half of the division and make the stinking NCAA tourney. While that is a serious task at this point, here's the three point recipe for doing so:
1) Continue to develop the defense without having to trap as much as possible (we've seen improvement there and we're well on our way).
2) Make Kyle Weaver the point guard.
And thus 3:
3) Make Taylor Rochestie a more focal part of the offense. The kid can drive, the kid can shoot, AND the kid is NAILS from the free-throw line.
Moreover, a hot Taylor Rochestie WILL open the floor for everyone else as he creates off the dribble as well as anyone on the roster including Low and Weaver.
I simply see no other solution to our offensive doledrums. We need a consistent additional offensive presence and Taylor's it. But he can not assert himself and become that third option while playing point guard.
So, Comment away, Cougar nation...
Maybe somehow, someway, we can upset UCLA and get a bit of Swagger back heading into the season's second half.
Just don't bank on it.