This game was closer than it should have been, but a good win and maybe the best effort of the season. Here are my likes and dislikes.
Craig Smith. Another huge game. The Globe had an article Saturday on his rebounding goal. It looked like he tried to pass the 1,000 mark all in this game. The biggest one was off of Dudley’s second miss from the line late in the game. Craig has also improved his free throw shooting of late. My only disappointment was he was less involved in the second half…but that was because his team was getting him the ball.
Sean Williams. I think Williams should be starting. He is so active defensively that he really bails his teammates out. There were a few times when Miami defenders drove the lane in the second half only to dribble back out. Williams had to be on their mind. He also had a good steal (not credited in the stats) and few hustle plays and some rebounds. Offensive deficiencies aside, he is such a defensive improvement over Oates that I think he deserves the minutes.
Tyrese rice. As I said the shot was huge. Making it is great, taking it with confidence is even better. Too often since Troy Bell graduated it seems like no one on the team was willing or able to shoot the big shot late in the game. So far Rice seems like he’ll throw it up with the whole world watching. Fear is not an issue with him. As an added bonus Rice is also our best perimeter defender and the only guy who can beat his man off the dribble and drive to the basket.
The defense. We used a little ameba, a little 2-3 and long stretches of box and 1. It worked for the most part. Yes, the perimeter defense suffered in the second half, but that is a given at this point.
Our offense in the second half. This confused me. We’ve destroyed 2-3 zones the past few years with Dudley on the baseline and Smith at the high post. After success in the first half, we went away from it in the second. Why? Yes, I was glad to see Dudley get more involved in the second half, but there was no reason not to get Smith the ball more often. I have no problem with Oates taking 3s, but he needs to make sure that we have rebounders near the basket.
Sean Marshall. Terrible game. He has his flaws, but a few key plays really pissed me off. Getting swatted on a layup during a 2 on 1 break. Sean, if the guy follows you, pass it off to the trailer. His two turnovers in the second half were equally bad. The thing that really sent me over the edge was his last shot in the game -- a three from the corner. He chucked it up. Not a problem. Staying in the corner and watching it is a problem. He needs to follow his shot or get back. Fortunately someone on the bench pulled him and he sat for most of the second half.
Why would I consider this the best game of the year? Miami is a good team and we beat them on the road, with good defense, clutch foul shooting and key plays from Rice and Willaims. No rest for the weary with Carolina coming up Wednesday, but I like the way the team is coming together.