Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things Could Get Ugly

for the 2010/2011 Hoops Dawgs. Reminds me of the feeling I had early in the season about the football team.

Some would say that we're very fortunate not to be 0 and 5 at this point. None of our victories have been that impressive. Last minute wins over lower tier teams are not going to instill confidence in the fan base. As a point in case, Liberty University beat Mississippi Valley State yesterday by 6 points on a neutral court.

Sure, Trey has been out and is rusty in his return, but we shouldn't use that excuse to gloss over our weaknesses. We have an advantage in the post over a lot of our opponents, but if our guards turn the ball over, we can't stop dribble penetration, and we can neither make nor defend the three, then we are going to lose to the elite teams.

So where are we? We're 3 and 2 after last night's loss to Temple. Can we beat Manhattan? Unless we're a lot worse than I think, we should win this one to go 4 and 2.

UAB on December 3 and Georgia Tech on the 7th are probably toss-ups at this point. If we're not on our game, we could lose to Tech. They have a roster full of guards who could get hot at just the wrong time of the season for the Dawgs.

After the Tech game, we'll likely feast for the rest of December on the lower-ranked teams. Then the SEC portion of the schedule looms.

We have Kentucky at home, then go to Vandy. We play Mississippi at their place, Tennessee and Mississippi State, Florida and then go to Kentucky. Sure, we "have to play the games," but knowing what we know now, where are the W's?

Any ideas?

Hope I'm Wrong, but

tonight could be a trap game for the football Dawgs.

Not the kind in which a highly ranked undefeated team loses to a lower ranked squad. We only wish Georgia were that good. But the fact is that Georgia should be able to win handily over an underperforming Tech team. We've had a week off to prepare. We're playing at home. Murray is back. Nesbitt is not.

Yet and still, Tech is very dangerous. They have a better record than we do. Sure, they play in the ACC, but they are 6 and 5 and we are 5 and 6.

Losing Nesbitt could ultimately prove to be a net positive for Tech. Tevin Washington apparently gives them the same skill package. Crafty with the ball. A strong runner in their option game. Can he throw it? He had over 5,000 yards of passing in high school. They might establish the run and surprise us with a long ball or two, then play keep-away for the rest of the game.

We have a new defensive scheme. The 3-4, with its emphasis on pass rushes from the linebacker position might be totally over-matched against a grind it out option attack. Besides that, we haven't stopped anybody all year.

You'd think we would be able to out-physical them on the offensive line. Well, our offensive line play has been an enigma. Expected to be a strength this year, our line play has been less than stellar. We're scoring lots of points, but we really need to be able to run the football tonight, use the same game plan as last year. They'll probably load the box and hope to get a quick three and out on our first possession. Are we man enough to take it to them?

We're playing to protect home turf. To become bowl eligible. Avoid a losing season. Honor our senior class. They're playing for revenge. Because a win over Georgia would make their year. Because they hate our guts.

Which team will be more inspired? Will Murray be gun-shy coming off of his injury? Is he ready to play? Will our defensive linemen get tired of the cut-blocks in the fourth quarter? Will our backs hold on to the football?

Hope I'm wrong, but I think it will be a close one and Tech could surprise us. Prediction? 30 to 24, Georgia Tech.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dawgs Lose

About as I expected.

We looked terrible against the zone. We shot 50 percent from the line. Let entirely too many defensive rebounds slip through our hands.

On defense our bigs just sat behind their post player and didn't fight him for position. And we didn't adjust the defense when they kept going to him. When a guy gets the ball right in front of the rim, he's usually going to score or get fouled. How to play it? With an undersized post player, you front him and force the defense to throw the ball over the top. If you can't get in front then get three quarter post position and force him to his off-hand.

Bottom line: we didn't deserve to win this one. We were stagnant on offense and uninspired or unmotivated on defense.

Dustin Ware had a couple of key buckets, but his shot is definitely off. His biggest problem is with his lift. He points his feet inward toward each other and thus his lower body works against his upper body on the release. He needs to watch some film to get it corrected. Teams are playing off of him, so although I don't recommend a lot of tinkering with a guy's mechanics during the season, in this case it's warranted. If he's going to shoot 8 or 9 threes during regulation and 13 for the game, then he needs to get it right.

A continuing concern is that Ware has no game going toward the basket. That was my point when he was recruited. He had a lot more three-point shots than a good point guard should have, especially when compared to the number of free throws he shot. He just has to take it toward the basket sometimes. Develop a floater, spin move, or learn to draw contact and get to the line.

If teams zone us, we might want to experiment with Robinson at the point and Brantley at the 2-guard. Not that Brantley is a particularly true shooter, either, but if Ware is off, let's try someone else.

And we need to develop an offense against the zone. We seemed to not know what to do. We looked confused and out of sorts and decided to just swing the ball around the perimeter. You do have to swing the ball, but if there is no movement through the paint, the zone will just shift. I like to overload one side and put a double or triple screen on to free a shooter. Tubby's offenses were great against the zone and Bruce Pearl has effective schemes. Either we run the normal triangle or we come up with a different offense against teams that zone us.

Wasn't a terrible game, but we had our chances. We'll get better as Trey gets acclimated to being on the floor again. You can tell that he doesn't have much lift.

When the guy banked in the three-pointer during the second overtime, I figured we weren't going to win it. They played just good enough to win and we have a lot of work to do.

South Bend Tribune Article on Leslie and Game

against UGA.

Should be a good one in just a few. Hope the Dawgs can pull it out.

Go Dawgs!

ND Tries for Good Shots Each Time Down

Means that every player for the Dawgs will have to D up.

They have good size across the front line and start three guys at 6' 8". Travis Leslie should fare well, nonetheless, since one of their big guys is more of a guard/forward, and Travis makes up for any height disadvantage with his leaping ability.

Jeremy Price probably has an advantage over his man. Price has the wide body, good hands and has added the nice free-throw stroke.

It's that third match-up that is the big unknown. If Nolte is hobbled with his new face-mask, or if Trey comes out and is not quite ready to play, then I guess you would have to give them the edge in the post.

It's probably a tie out on the perimeter. Hansbrough has a little craftiness to his game. Can get hot from deep, too. The season's still young, but he is shooting right at 60 percent from behind the arc and averaging 18 points per game.

Eric Atkins is a point guard who sounds a lot like Dustin Ware. Mostly a distributor with a high assist to turnover ratio. Even though Atkins doesn't shoot that much, he makes over half of his attempts.

Gerald and Dustin should be able to hold their own against the Irish back-court. We need a fast start, plus some good contributions from our bench.

Look of the Irish

Can Gerald Robinson be the Difference Maker?

Georgia needs to get out to a fast start tonight. We have to shoot well and play good defense without fouling.

Would love to see Gerald Robinson get hot from the outside. He likes to set other guys up, but until Trey is fully ready, we have to have 15 to 20 points from Robinson.

AJC Article

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If we play tomorrow like we did

against St. Louis and MVSU, Notre Dame will punish us.

I'm not optimistic about the game. We really do need more production from our bench. Will Trey be back? Even if he is, it still doesn't mean that he will be ready to play. Most players are very rusty after coming off of an injury.

As readers likely know, I'm a homer. However, with my predictions, I challenge myself to state what I think will be the outcome without any reference to my feelings. My prediction? 69 to 65, ND.

Zac Swansey Interview

Good job by the Bleacher Report.

Zac sounds like a great guy to interview. He's positive about his experience at UGA, optimistic about the future, and has a few good stories to tell, to boot.

Hope Zac continues to do well in the OVC.

The Swanz

Monday, November 22, 2010

Alabama loses to St. Peter's

I don't remember ever having heard of St. Peters before. Sounds like a junior high where all the kids wear uniforms. In a Rubix Cube solving contest, Bama would not have stood a chance.

But there they were. St. Peters, winners in basketball over the University of Alabama by a score of 50 to 49.

Bear in mind that St. Peters is the same team that scored a total of 30 points in an earlier match-up against Robert Morris.

In the Alabama contest, a guy for St. Pete by the name of Blaise Ffrench made a key bucket. Did Buffy and Jody score, too? A player named Yvon hit two three-pointers. I mean it's bad when a team uses their cheerleaders against you.

Their mascot is the Peacocks. The St. Peters Peacocks. There's something that's just wrong about that name. But I digress. I'm sure they are very proud about the win.

It could have happened to us, so I'm not gloating. Besides, teams better get Bama this year, because with the freshman class Grant is bringing in, they will be significantly better next year. Even still, Crimson Tide fans are not going to be happy about losing to the 1 and 3 St. Peters team.

At any rate, even though I had some fun at their expense, it's a great win for St. Peters. Congratulations to them.

Tubby Beats Huggy

Still don't see how Tubby has fashioned a winner up at Minnesota. But here he is at 5 and 0. Beat West Virginia by a score of 74 to 70.

Minnesota takes home the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. They should have a significant NCAA tournament resume, since they also beat UNC in the semi-final game.

At some point in time, the lack of talent on Tubby's team will catch up with him. Minnesota will hit a lull during Big Ten conference play, I predict. But his guys move the ball and play solid defense, so that will hold him in good stead for a while.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Sport Athletes: Response to Philip

I was going to post this response to Philip and leave it in the comments section on the article on Nick Marshall. Then I thought that I should go ahead and post it, since more readers will see it and perhaps join the discussion.

At any rate, I want to thank Philip for responding to the challenge of naming guys who have played both football and basketball, and were "contributors," which I arbitrarily defined as scoring more than 5 points per game. Philip offered Reggie Love from Duke, and Julius Peppers of UNC as examples.

Reggie Love works at the White House so his is a name in the news these days. My objection to Reggie Love as an example of a contributing 2-sport guy is that he averaged 1 point and 1 rebound per game. Since he did start a few games for the team, and the team is Duke, then Love gets some extra credit, I suppose.

Julius Peppers did not play basketball his red-shirt year, but he did play hoops in two out of his four years. He last played basketball ten years ago, 2000/2001, averaging 7 points per game. After that season, however, Peppers felt he had to concentrate on one sport. He ended up giving up hoops for football.

Charlie Ward was drafted by the NBA, NFL, and MLB in the early nineties. Tony Gonzalez played a couple of years of basketball. Different situation entirely, but Kenny Lofton did play basketball and baseball at a high level back in the late eighties.

Closer to home, Georgia had Larry Brown in the late nineties, Fred Gibson and then Quentin Moses eight years or so ago. Moses didn't contribute much in basketball. He was all-SEC in academics, so he may have chosen to focus more on his studies. Besides, he played during that weird time just when Harrick was on his way out and Felton was brought in. Gibson scored just 5 points a game, but he helped out in a memorable win over Florida. Larry Brown had his moments, too, but I probably need some help from other fans who remember how many points per game he averaged.

Any others? Who did I miss? Is the football/basketball two-sport athlete at the college level rare or fairly common? Will Marshall successfully play both? What do you think? Help us out here.

Dawgs Win!

Well, I was correct that Georgia would pick up the win. What I didn't foresee was that we would play so poorly.

Lots of turnovers. Missed free throws. Failure to close out on shooters or leaving guys wide open for lay-ups.

But when it was crunch time, Georgia relied on Gerald Robinson, Travis Leslie and Jeremy Price and got the job done.

Game ball definitely goes to Travis Leslie. Leslie was not on during the first half. He shot 2 of 5 from the floor and had 2 turnovers. But in the second half, he was money. A perfect 5 for 5 from the field, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 of 4 from the line.

He finished the game with 19 points and 6 boards.

We got just enough from everybody else. Gerald Robinson had 10 points and 8 assists. Way too many turnovers (7), but with the game on the line, we needed to get it to someone who could create something, and he did with a perfect left-handed drive and dish to Jeremy Price.

Dustin Ware had a quiet 10 points. He was 2 of 3 from behind the arc, 2 of 2 from the line, and 3 of 7 from the field. He had 2 assists and no turnovers.

Jeremy Price didn't give us much in the second half, going 0 for 4 from the field for the first 15 minutes or so. Then around the 5 minute mark, he settled down some, and hit 2 of 3 from the field and 4 of 4 from the charity stripe.

Story of the game: They missed their free throws late and we didn't.

Ugly win, but I'll take it. We're 3 and 0. Another 5 days before we play again, which gives Thompkins the better part of a week to rehab and work on coming back.