Now I am worried
I could rationalize the Michigan State and the Maryland losses. I cannot rationalize this stinker. This team is starting to remind me of the '01-'02 and the '02-'03 teams. Those two won, but were considered disappointments. Like those teams, it seems like this BC team doesn’t respond well to challenges, looks lost on offense, and has trouble finding an effective rotation. The only brightspot was how well the Smith, Dudley, McLain, Hinnant and Rice lineup played together. But by the time Al found the right balance, the hole was too deep. Here are my takeaways:
Craig played great. I got on him earlier in the season, but tonight I had no complaints. He didn’t force shots. Despite getting mugged, he was creating points and working hard on the boards. He even helped out ball handling.
Rice’s ball pressure. In the second half, his ability to slow Tech really helped us settling in defensively. He is also becoming more effective running the offense. He protected the ball pretty well and was the only guy able to beat anyone off the dribble.
McLain’s overall game. His numbers might not show what I saw, but I was really pleased with Akida’s overall contribution. He is such an upgrade defensively over Marshall and Oates. He moves well, plays tight and didn’t get lost on switches. When we used a little trapping in the first half, his long arms and quickness were key reason it was effective.
Foul shooting. What is wrong with Jared Dudley from the line? Seeing him in person, you can’t pick up what is off. His line seems right. Maybe his release? I don’t know, but this is now starting to cost us games. A real letdown.
The offense in general looked horrible. We’ve always had trouble running the flex against teams that are aggressive in reaching for the ball. But if it was all steals and deflections I would just attribute it to difficulty with long athletics teams. This was something different. A team that was great at making the extra pass and finding the high percentage shot looked lost. Teams are bound to catch on to our style and demand tight defense against us. I understand. In those situations they should then force it on the low block to Smith and Dudley. Just do that over and over and let them dominate the boards and draw fouls. They did this effectively in the second half, but not enough in the first. Getting it to them low plays to both their strengths.
Rebounding. Someone besides Smith and Dudley has got to step up. Marshall, Williams and Oates were either out of position or worse not trying.
The rotations and lineups. Haynes, Rice, McLain, Dudley and Willaims were on the floor together for a prolonged stretch in the first half. This allowed BC to press, force bad shots and wreck havoc but they couldn’t score. Against a team like Tech, Oates is a disaster. He cannot move defensively and offers very little on the boards. He just took up space. Marshall wasn’t much use either. I am so tired of seeing him getting to his man late on an outside shot. The guy either can’t or won’t fight through screens. Plus Marshall’s recent hot streak has him looking to shoot first…which keeps Dudley and Smith out of the game. Pressing still causes problems. You know it is bad when Dudley and Smith have to bale out Hinnant.
Williams was a real letdown. His block was sweet but he seemed tentative the rest of his short time. If he is not going to play 30 minutes, then the assistant coaches need to tell him to try and block everything he can. What does he/we have to lose? He wasn’t grabbing rebounds. He isn’t getting minutes. Just go out there and swat everything.
This team cannot sleep walk through the season and expect to make a deep run into the tournament. I think the Smith, Dudley, McClain, Hinnant, McLain lineup is our best. It gives Al two ball handlers. It includes our best offensive threats. And is a good enough defensive lineup. Hopefully they will get more time together and will start to gel. I had high hopes for Williams…maybe he can work his way back. This team was built for the Big East and they are going to have to adapt and adapt quickly.