Monday, February 09, 2009

Onto 2010-2011

Happy Monday to you Cougar Nation. Hope your week is off to a good start.

Well, in case any of you caught Saturday's game against the Bears, you saw what I thought was the toughest loss we've experienced in a long, long time.

For me it was among the hardest because, for the first time since our two point loss @ UCLA in 2007, we lost a game where we played about as well as we can play.

So now that we know that our best might not be good enough, it's really time for a change.

Before I get to the meat (if there is any) of the post, I do want to tip my hat to the CAL Bears. Simply put, if those kids play like they did last weekend in March, you will see them in the Sweet Sixteen. They are long, althletic, play decent D, and boy can they shoot the rock. Even more impressive, they are ALL back. So, you got a chance to witness your 2009-2010 Pac-10 Champs on Saturday night.

Now, back to us.

Nation, having ditched my former moniker for a pair of letters, I really do not want to get back into the game of calling out individual players. But, in this case, it is really unavoidable.

On Saturday night, this guy had a MINUS 32 while he was in the game.

In case you are among the math challenged like BH, a minus 32 means that when this kid was in the game, CAL outscored us by a whopping 32 points.

Now granted, no one should pin our season on his woes. After all basketball is a team game. And even more than that,we know that this kid is a gem of a teammate and one heck of a human being. Moreover, we also know that when given enough touches, this kid can be really lights out.

But, we also know that it is inappropriate for him to get those touches now. Moreover, we also know that when we lost to UCLA by two points a few weeks ago, he didn't get off the bench. So, unless we get into a situation where we're down 20 and Tony can insert him with the message "shoot every time you touch it, or you're off the team" he really shouldn't play again. And it truly hurts to even write that.

But even more to the point, as I wrote on Saturday, when you look toward next year, FOUR OUT OF OUR FIVE LEADING SCORERS ARE GRADUATING. And that simply means that when you look toward our prospects for 2009-2010, you're looking squarely at replicating this season of Oregon Ducks basketball.

And so, I say again, like I did on Saturday, its time to put the youth movement forward. Its time for Casto and Capers to get many more minutes--even if they make horrible mistakes (and tony, don't sub in an entire unit of freshmen reserves when we're up 11, please). Simply put, I think most of us would sacrifice a few W's this year for the chance of competitive next year, not to mention an upper bracket NCAA team in 2010-2001.

Its now officially transition time for Cougar basketball. And while playing the Oregon schools may seem like a good opportunity to stay veteran and win a few games, it actually is the perfect time for playing the young kids until they either win for you or foul out.

So, Onward to the Future, Cougar Nation.

And a HUGE Congrats and THANK YOU to this year's seniors for all they've done in making the past so darn memorable and enjoyable.


Stryper said...

Wow, minus-32 is Luke-Ridnour-like, circa 2005 Sonics.

If Harmeling were a member of the 2008 M's he would have been designated for assignment by now, ala Brad Wilkerson/Jose Vidro/Richie Sexson/need I go on?

But he's NOT a member of the M's. He's a college hoops player, for a program and a coach who values loyalty and commitment and "servanthood". While BH is right, and youth must be served, I don't think it will be. Not from where I sit. I think Tony stays loyal to the vets, true to himself. He hasn't conceded a thing. He hopes for a strong finish to the season, plus a couple of Pac-10 tourney wins. So while nice in theory, it ain't happenin' in the Bennett system.

BH said...

Very nice comment Stryper...I tend to agree with you.

But also remember that Bennet has gone with youth over seniors before (see Ivory Clark who happened to be playing GREAT when he was benched), so its not out of the realm of possibility.

I also want to be clear that i don't want Forrest, Taylor, or Baynes' minutes reduced. I simply want that line-up and rotation that we saw against the LA schools.

It vanished in the last six minutes of the SC game, and I still don't know why

Soze (aka Koprivica Hater) said...

I'm not going to argue against benching Harmeling (sad story) but there is NO WAY that ANYONE on this team should be getting less minutes than Nik Koprivica. At least Harmeling gave something to the program in 2008. Koprivica does not belong on a community college basketball program, so why he gets a start in a Pac-10 school is beyond me? And unfortunately, he's only a junior. His turnovers and mind-numbingly bad play are going to kill us next year, unless we can convince him to transfer to the Community Colleges of Spokane program?

OlyCoug said...

Completely agree about Koprivica. Are we on crazy pills or does he actually bring something to the table that we don't see? I just don't get it.

Longball said...

Remember when we first saw Nik take the floor for the Cougs? He was a real spark plug for what was a struggling offense and he was great, in that Euroball way, of moving without the ball on offense. What happened to that? We are a poor ball handling team, but one of the things that baffles me is why we have Nik handling the ball in the backcourt when the other team is pressuring us instead of making cuts behind the defense for the kinds of easy scores he used to be so good at getting. Who knows.

One thing we need to all consider is that Tony is continuing to develop as much as our team is. He is becoming a better coach every day, but there are learning pains.
I think its a good sign that Harthun is seeing more spot duty lately. It may only be to rest Rochestie, and we still see very little Lodwick, but as our NCAA delusions fade I hope the youngsters get more and more time. It is going to be really hard to win Pac-10 games next year, but I am excited to see the new squad start to take shape.

BH said...

Good question, Longball.

But the thing for all of us to remember is that Nik played really, really well the other night.

He had one turnover (credited instead to Baynes, I think, but it was the first or second entry pass of the second half), but played good D and took the ball to the rack effectively when he had the chance.

But Longball, you are right that the kid used to play on the left baseline and was a nice slasher doing it...I think the deal now is that they're trying to put Baynes now on the left block, so putting a slasher there winds up being a cluster F.

But, if you put Casto on the weak side in that set, then you have an alley-oop and O-rebound option to that strong side. I think that complements Forrest's game really well.

Part of me also thinks that tony is using the stick of "do it my way or don't play" while he has it.

Cuz next year, its going to be really, really hard to use that stick when Boeke-Boeke chicken head is the only alternative.

Lets just go beat the Oregon schools (Oregon especially), get to 6-7 and make the SC game interesting..

Longball said...

Yeah, Nik actually had a good game and on a couple occasions took what the D gave him and made nice left hand drives to the hoop for easy scores (without dribbling off his face!). I am as frustrated as anyone with Nik's ball handling, but I really believe he is mis-used and that contributes to his struggles. Interesting point about TOny taking this opportunity to drive home how he wants the young guys to play. I think we all get caught up worrying that he is not thinking ahead enough with this team, but there is an example where he may indeed have the future very much in mind.

As coach Norman Dale would say, "What I say when it comes to this basketball team is the LAW! Four passes before you shoot!"

Mr. F said...

Soze... wow.

Koprivica had FIVE assists and ZERO turnovers against Stanford. That was a more efficient passing night than Rochestie. And yet you want to dump all over him? Rooting against your own players is bush league - go root for the mutts if you want to do that.

And hey, looking toward the future - guess which upperclassman is actually coming back next year?

renton alum said...

Kopravica is a total joke. I have to turn away every time Tony puts him in.

Big Wood said...

a -32 doesn't mean we were outscored by 32 points when he was on the floor. It means the difference between the time he was on the floor and the time he wasn't on the floor was a net -32 points.

Regardless, it was the worst performance by a Coug in Pac 10 play this season, beating out Casto's -22 against Arizona.

It should also be noted that Harmeling's +22 against Oregon State is the high point for the Cougs this season too. Peaks and valleys, I guess....

Soze said...

Mr. F, I had 12 points and 10 rebounds in a game in high school once. Doesn't mean my coach should have given me more minutes.