Saturday, February 02, 2008

Reality Bites

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.

1) Defense

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.

2) Offense:

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.


kaddy said...

I'm pretty much 100% in agreement with you - not only do we really miss Ivory on defense, but on offense, too. He hit a lot of 15-footers last year for us. I don't think we have a 3,4, or 5 that can do that this year. Cowgill hit quite a few off the glass last year, but I can't remember one this year.

I just hung up with the Reaper, and we both agreed that Rochestie needs to assert himself more on offense. He has the ability to score, and we need it now, and bad.

I hate when our bigs come out on defense at the top of the key and then have to try to recover - we just don't have the quickness for that.

There are a lot of good coaches in the Pac, and they're starting to figure us out. Spread out our defense, then beat us with athleticism.

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

RE: Clark. How about the put-back dunk factor? We drive, ball falls off weakside, Ivory rebounds and slams it back over someone in one motion. That was ONE reason why our FG% was so high last year: 2nd chance put-backs...

But, I still maintain we can be just as good if not better this year. We just need to realize now that we will NOT be consistent offensively without a different approach. Up until now, the idea has been basically "play good defense, Weaver will be Weaver, Baynes will be effective, and if we can get two out of the Harmeling, Low, Rochestie trifecta to shoot well, we'll be just fine." The problem is that we have NOT been able to get two of those guys off consistently (let alone 3).

I think Taylor could start us toward getting ALL THREE off. And if we can do that, I think that you'll see us tear through teams.

Unfortunately, Mr. Collison is up next and he absolutely eats us alive.

Michelle said...

One: Kyle Weaver had a good game, nice double double for him. However, many points in the game it almost seemed as if he was attempting to do too much at the wrong times. you could tell many of his shots were almost out of desperation, as if he didn't think his teammates would get it done. Which resulted in some ugly drives, some leading to "free" throws which were missed...a lot.
Two: Free Throws...this to me is just nerves. It gets DEAD silent in there when we step to the line. Maybe even puts more pressure on the guys with it being so quiet. We know they can make the bucket from the stripe, they just haven't shown us as of late. Either way, we've got to make them in the clutch.
Three: Taylor Rochestie. Agreed Brinkhater. He needs to shoot more, he seems to pass the ball off a lot when he has the open shot. He will make that lay-in 99.9% of the time at the end of the game. I am glad Tony chose to keep the ball in taylor's hand, couldn't have asked for a better shot honestly...but like the rest of the night, those easy shots weren't falling for us.
Four: Don't know if anyone was there, but our crowd is getting a lot better. The alumni side is actually standing up on big possession. The student's have now started a "stand up" chant when they want the alum to join them in cheering.

I hope we bounce back quickly. Tony is a great coach, he'll have these guys back and ready to play on thursday. Go Cougs

Σ (FormerlyKnownAsBrinkHater) said...

Thanks for your comment, Michele.

Agreed, Taylor's full-court drive at the end was a great, aggressive move and take, and good look, that just didn't go in.

One other sneaker positive at the end of the game: After PAINFULLY missing or near missing earlier at the charity stripe, Robbie Cowgill solidly knocked down his last two. Its as if you could almost see him say "f-it" as he went to the line after missing the put back.

He MIGHT be ready for a break out.

Anonymous said...

Kyle did try to force things, which he needs to be careful doing because he really isn't that quick with the dribble.
However, I was really pleased with the team. They actually looked alive defensively.
You gotta make FTs to beat Top 25 teams.
The guys looked really tired with a few mins in reg. We need Cross or Sauls to come back so we can change things up a bit. Nik just isn't there yet and he still can't shoot from the outside.

AtlantaCoug said...

I agree with the Post and the Comments. But really, how many Close in shots did we miss because of the Lopez twins lurking? I can think of 3 Cowgill layins that he should have made. And if we make the free throws we win. SOOOO....I guess I am saying this sucks. We will be ranked #20 and have UCLA next...

wsuhoops said...

The offense is not the problem. I REPEAT, the offense is not the problem.

2006-07 offensive efficiency (in conference): 105.2
2007-08 offensive efficiency (in conference): 110.5

Our offense is BETTER this year, and certainly good enough to win. Defense?

2006-07 defensive efficiency (in conference): 95.5
2007-08 defensive efficiency (in conference): 105.5

That's like blaming Alex Brink in 2006 for the fact that the defense couldn't stop anyone.

Oh, wait -- is that a sore subject around here?