Everyone took the tale of two halves angle (one column in the Herald, Herald game story and Globe game story). I understand why the writers would go this way and watching the disinterested huddle in the first half really made me think that these guys don’t care. But I am starting to see something different. I think this is a veteran team that has confidence that it can and will win every game. They just need to figure how a team is beating them and then they (and Al) adjust. So where others see a lazy team coasting for stretches, I see a veteran team with limitations struggling with what the other team is doing. Once they figure it out and adjustments are made, they take over (Clemson’s pressure late, Miami’s collapsing zone, etc).
Team defense. The stats don’t jump out, but this team is really playing well defensively. The rotations and help are much better and I see fewer and fewer opponents with open looks. They also did a good job getting rebounds on Miami’s missed 3s.
Craig’s passing out of the post. It was mentioned during the game, but needs to be noted again. Now that we have outside shooting, Craig is that much more dangerous. In the second half he did a good job getting it back outside. Craig has been somewhat neutralized in the first half of recent games. I think we need to force the ball through him earlier. It gets him going and opens up the rest of the court.
Sean Williams’ play. Not an impressive stat line, but his contributions go beyond paper. He alters shots and changes the way teams play us. He is getting much better and slowing pick and rolls. He is quick and can jump out at the ball handler and then get back in place. Plus his dunk was sweet!
Craig working the refs. Craig hasn’t been getting many calls his way of late. Yet he is constantly talking to the refs, or worse pouting after non-calls. There was one case in the first half when he got decked on a drive. Miami got the rebound and pushed the ball down the court. Craig stayed seated with his hands raised looking for the foul. I know it sucks to get decked, but he’s got to get up in those situations and get back on defense.
John Oates not getting the calls. I am not an Oates fan but this guy cannot catch a break. I can’t think of a borderline call that hasn’t gone against him in weeks. His fourth foul last night was clearly charging, yet they always seem to call things on him. Other than not playing him, there is nothing Al can do. I don’t think he wants to or should talk to the refs. He should use those conversations to help Smith and Dudley.
Things are going according to plan. Virginia will be a tough game, but nothing this team hasn’t seen before.