Monday, February 2, 2009

The Good & Bad - A Not Quite Mid-Season Retrospective

Ok, here's the negative post. I'm ecstatic about MU this year and am really enjoying the ride. Here are a couple of reasons why I'm tempering my optimism. These are certainly nitpicky, but teams that go deep in the tourney have these qualities:
  • We aren't great defensively. Currently 56th in the Pomeroy defensive rankings. We have given up 50%+ shooting to Dayton (53%), NC State (51%), Providence (56%) and Georgetown (54%). A few other teams got close - Tennessee (49%), Rutgers (49%) and DePaul (45%)
  • We don't have an inside presence. I know, it hasn't hurt us yet, but we have UL's front line, Blair and Thabeet to deal with coming up. Each of those teams have more weapons to hurt us than ND did
  • We have no depth. We have avoided foul trouble well, but what happens if/when Jerel or Wes or Lazar exit with 2 fouls early?
  • We have a negative rebound differential and we haven't played any of the bigger teams in the league yet
  • Just a question - will Dom's FT shooting hurt us?

Things that are damn good:

  • 4 guys who can score 20+ points in every game. That effing amazes me
  • We dominate the second half. Look at Nova, WVU, ND, G'town, Providence - the seniors take over
  • Only two more tricky road games - DePaul and USF. Any other road loss would be understandable
  • Great 3 point shooting and overall FG % - our boys take good shots. Jerel leads the league in 3FG % at over 50%!
  • Good free throw shooting. Zar leads the league at 90%! The key is to have Dom inbounds the ball in crunch time
  • Maybe Jimmy has turned the corner
  • A 3 (!) game lead in the race for the #4 BET seed. Holy crap! We've also beaten all three teams immediately below us in the race for the double bye
  • An absolute snakepit atmosphere at the BC. Two toughest games remaining are UConn and Syracuse. We have a great chance to win both of those!

I know this was a rambling post, but I had to get some of these things off my chest.


EMoney said...

All good points.

At this point, I am just throwing stats and projected matchups out the window! Simply stated....these guys just know how to win. Their intensity is usually superior to the opponents and it appears that they have finally realized the difference between a good and bad shot. It's ridiculous to ask them to never take a bad shot, but when comparing to last year they have improved drastically in this area which is probably why their outside shooting is much improved.

I am just enjoying the hell out of this year! It's still early to start projecting March runs, but in my opinion the overall talent level of the NCAA seems down a bit this year. I mean, what teams do I look at and say..."no chance". Outside of the Big East, the only team that would really scare me is UNC....and maybe Wake. We can play with anyone from the Big10, Big12, Pac10, and even SEC(I'd like another crack at Tenn). That being said, with a good tourney draw, there is some real potential with this team! So enjoy the ride. I'll finally get to a BC game against St.Johns, followed by a roadie to Louisville, and senior night against Syracuse. Only 5 weeks remain.

So did anyone deliver the Brewer mobile?

Zone Defense is for Pussies said...

I don't think those are great points at all...just nit-picking the stat line. I this team and can't wait for the next 2 months to unfold because I think we could be playing for 2 more months. just wanted to throw someting out here for discussion. I think the key to beating UConn is to go with the small ball line-up. If you make Thabeet guard Wes or LH he has to get out of the lane or allow one of those 2 to be wide open which opens up the rim for attack or for Jerel or Dom to find Wes/Lazar cutting to the hoop or open for 3. we'll get killed on the boards but if we make our shots and play aggressive defense on their guards we'll be fine (ala Notre Dame). plus it doesn't hurt we are playing at home.

Devil's Threesome said...

Of course it's nitpicking, that's what I said up top, but I do think these are legit concerns.

So Zone, the fact that we aren't in the top 1/2 of the league in FG% D doesn't concern you...just a little bit? The fact that not only single Final Four team in the last 8 years has been below 25 in the KenPom defensive rankings and we are at 55 doesn't concern you either?

UConn and ND are not viable comparisons at all.
1) Thabeet is 7-8" taller than Harangody. We could score on Gody at will, but Thabeet changes the whole complexion of the game down low
2) ND has only one other viable scoring threat in McAlarney - UConn has Price, Adrien, etc. Thabeet is only a threat on dunks, but Adrien will fucking manhandle Lazar
3) Why would Thabeet guard Lazar? If we go small, Calhoun will switch to zone. If he doesn't, he's dumb, and I'll be happy

Maybe I'm putting too much stock into tonight's result, but I don't see many ways that we can beat UConn. Brutal matchup for us. Who guards Adrien? Our best chance will be to shoot lights out from 3. They don't foul, they have scored over 10 more points/game than their opponents from the line. Fuck, they won at UL by 17 and didn't make a 3.

Oh well, a win vs UConn does not define the success of our season. 14-4 or better in the BE and a Sweet 16 or further and I'll be ecstatic.

Devil's Threesome said...

E - you are right about the lack of other teams that concern me in the nation. The Pac10 is weak. Oklahoma would scare me with Griffin. The SEC is a joke, as is the Big 11. I'm scared of UConn, UL, Wake, UNC and Pitt. Hopefully, any of those teams would be Elite 8 matchups.

Zone Defense is for Pussies said...

why would having a bad FG% concern me...we haven't lost a game in the BE. so no I don't give a fuck what our FG% ranking is. and how do you explain leading the league in scoring if we are so bad on FG%. It doesn't make any sense. this team just finds ways to win games. And I wonder how they come up with those defensive rankings because as far as I'm concerned we are an awesome defensive team. we play defense on mismatches at the 4/5 position most of the time. we don't have a big time shot blocker so that stat category is bad for us. i guess i don't get overly concerned with FG% rankings or defensive rankings that come out of a computer because this team has something that no computer can calculate.

Devil's Threesome said...

Um, I'm talking about FG% Defense, dude. It doesn't have too much to do with our scoring (which is fine, thank you). I agree that we do well for our size, but "well for our size" sympathy points don't do us shit in the tourney. The team is saying all the right things about defense, so hopefully it gets addressed.

As for what a computer says, the rankings have a pretty damn good track record of predicting postseason success as I referenced above. That's pretty decent proof to me.

"this team just finds ways to win games." "this team has something that no computer can calculate" PTI just called, they need another talking head and these comments qualify you for the job. Tom Crean is even impressed with the cliche usage