@jaybate-1.0 I agree with the logic in your post but I’m not sure Svi, physically matured or not, is the missing link to this team reaching our expectations of them playing at a high level of basketball The last two seasons certainly didn’t reach my expectations for a Bill Self team. I’ve been wanting to post about this for a while now but really didn’t know how to say what I see with this group of guys the last couple years. I’ll probably get blasted for some of this by members of this site but here it goes.
I’ve been watching games from the 06-08 seasons to get an idea of how a group of guys should progress through a few years. It seems to me that physical maturity has little to do with it when compared to the mental maturity.
I’m convinced that this group won’t meet any expectation until they have a true “coach on the floor” leader. Someone with knowledge of how to play the game, how to run the system Someone who knows, not only their job in the system, but everyone else’s too. Someone who can direct the other players into proper position. Someone who can read the other teams offense and defense and call the right play without having to look over to the bench, and can keep coaching and keep the other players in the loop during the game. The 08 team had 3 of those guys, this team has none. I do think the jury is still out on Graham and Svi. But our upper classmen, while I’m hopeful, I don’t see it. Go back and watch the old games, every stoppage of play RussRub, Mario, Sherron would be talking and dissecting something going on in the game. Then one would go tell the others what was going on and the other would go tell coaching staff what was going on. Many times you can see one of them call for the ball, take it back up top, and call another play after seeing something wasn’t working or after seeing something to take advantage of. They would hold the ball communicate to the other the play and what to do, even pointing and motioning them into position. Among the three of them, they could just look at each other know what to do. Our guys now do none of that. Our senior leader, Perry, seems to have taken a vow of silence or something. Most of our guys look like they don’t know what they are supposed to do, never mind everyone else.
I recall somewhere I read (might have been here or some of you from the other site) that the 08 team had like 93 plays at their disposal and that RussRob, Mario, and Sherron had the freedom to call any play they needed to for a given situation! Now that’s a soph, 2 jr’s (if you count BRush) and a senior. Do any of you really think that our team now knows 93 plays? 45? 30? Frank, Wayne, Devonte, and Greene(?), that’s 3 Jr’s and Soph.
You mentioned having productive bigs, I contend that if the 08 guards had Lucas and Mickleson, that those guards would make them productive bigs because of their passing ability, play making, on floor coaching and positioning, and great defensive work. Probably not to the extent Shady was at taking over games from time to time, but then again…:)
On the do everything 3, no doubt BRush was a special player. But in one of the 08 tournament games, there was about 5 possessions where BRush took the outlet pass and pushed the ball up the floor. Crossing the half court line, he was at the top of the key, RussRob went one side and Sherron went the other. So BRush was playing the “1” and Sherron was playing the “3” on that possession, and Sherron looked more like a “6’-7” 3" than Oubre did most of last season! But it didn’t matter anyway, after the ball reversed to the second and third side everyone had rotated through all three guard spots anyway. There has been a lot of talk about who should play the 1,2,3,4,5 and who backs up who. The 08 team had only 2 positions, guard and big! The only difference was which side of the ball you’re on. When the ball is on one side of the floor the 5 is low and the 4 is high, then on the other side the 5 goes high and 4 goes low, so it doesn’t matter. Now of course, different players could bring different skills to each spot on the floor. For example, Shady would take the 15 footer, but Sasha might be looking to pass from that spot because there are better shots for the team to take than that one. But Sasha still rotated into and out of that spot to make the defense have to move, so he had to know how and what to do at each position. Same thing with the guards! I saw BRush draining 3’s off the “elevator play” and he was a so called “3”, and we saw the same thing with BMac and he was a “2”. It just don’t matter, you could run the play for both of them in the same game. They either switch sides for that possession or just run the play the other direction. I’m sure some guys like one side of the floor better than the other and they can go to their “spot” when walking the ball up. But when they pushed the tempo they just went to the closest wing or brought the ball up. They either get a good quick shot, or rotate in and out of their spot as the ball is reversed. This idea that Selden just can’t handle switching from a “2” to a “3” is ridiculous. What’s the difference? What, one goes for a rebound and one gets back on defense? That’s a tough one to figure out! He don’t even have to change sides of the floor, just change the number next to his name from a “2” to a “3”, it doesn’t matter. Someone mentioned that if we go small, then we lose the rebounding from the “3” spot. Wasn’t Frank our leading rebounder for much of last season? Just pencil a “3” next to his name when the ball goes up and the other can get back on defense since he can rebound better anyway. Another thing, not every position has it’s own backup, right? Self usually plays 5 guards and in crunch time only 4. That means someone has to learn to play more than one numbered position, right? I see these projected lineups for next year, and if Mason and Graham can both play the “1” or “2”, then why in the world can’t Selden play the “2” or “3”? There just isn’t that much difference. Self needs four guys who can at least half a$$ handle the ball enough to rotate through the entire play. Oh, on a side note, the 08 guys actually ran the weave effectively…well sometimes. It was cool to see them do though. They would change tempo, hesitate, cut it off short, and really pinch the perimeter defenders together at the top of the key. When they got them all bunched up, one wouldn’t come to meet the ball and instead get a pass out to the wing and have a free lane to the paint. Cool to see work. That was probably the last time, lol.
One last issue, the non-business like culture of this team. ralster mentioned in a post above the two 3’s that Mario and Sherron hit in the title game. Go watch that and look at the reactions on their faces, and look at the bench’s reaction. Mario and Sherron just looked like that’s what they’re supposed to do, that’s all. Got back on defense and kept playing. The bench, the players stood up and pumped a fist in the air or clapped, and then sat down. The coaches, they clapped and then went back to business. Self stood up to start barking out orders for the defense. But that’s it. Same reactions on several Shady and Sasha lob dunks. Now of course they celebrated and chest bumped with their teammates at time outs or the locker room but not on the floor. But you watch this year, the first 3 Greene hits against Fort Hayes State, he will be jogging back down the floor making gestures like he did something special. Or the first ally oop someone will flex and scream and pretend they are tearing off their shirt. And on the bench, all the players will be falling out of their chairs, acting like they are going to run out on the floor. And there will be Snacks acting like a kids with them. That nonsense is just as bad as Adams eating a fake bowl of cereal…(I do have to admit, that’s the goofiest thing I’ve ever seen :)) But seriously, act like you’ve been here before. Did they practice those shots and plays? Aren’t they suppose to go in? And Snacks doing it…ridiculous.
To finish up, I want to say, that I love our players. Great characters, fun to watch them learn and go through the ups and downs of each season. I just don’t expect to see them execute the way the 06-08 teams did. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Does this mean they can’t win a championship? Of course not! A lot of it depends on match ups and having things fall the right way. It’s just the basketball playing won’t be a thing of beauty like it was in 08. Everybody go back and watch those games. It’s amazing the difference.