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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Calling Jeff Green (and Roy Hibbert)

There is no need to pile on so I will keep this brief.

Tonight's loss was/is a major disappointment and while you can slice it and dice it any number of ways, we are going to lose and continue to lose more games when your two alleged best players (i.e., Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert) combine for 8 points of total offense.

The expectations for Hibbert are obviously high every time he touches the ball and he did not live up to those expectations this evening. But at least he took some shots and made some attempts to go at the basket. I will cut him a little more slack because overall he has been active this season and as of last game his FG% was hovering at nearly 70%. Point is he played...he might not have played well on the offensive end but at least he played.

The real story of this season so far has been a series of uninspired performances by Jeff Green (the Ball St game essentially does not count since this is akin to stealing from the blind). Don't get me's not what Jeff is doing on the court, it's what he's not doing. His play, or lack thereof, has made him irrelevant. For many of this season's contests we might as well be playing with 4 men on the court. Until Green decides to wear the mantle of leader and demonstrate that leadership through his play on the court, we will continue to struggle and probably lose more games than we win. For someone who has been hyped as a top-10 NBA pick, he sure isn't playing like it.

This is a pretty simple thing...if Jeff Green (or Roy Hibbert) had a somewhat decent, not great, but decent, game this evening, we win. They didn't and we lost. End of story.

I would love to see these two, especially Green, publicly call themselves out, acknowledge the poor play, and step it up. This does not seem to be too much to ask.

On to Duke!!!


Diamond_Mike said...

I generally agree that these guys need to step it up. But a lot of this loss can be chalked up to not running the offense. We just stood around in Esherickian fashion and then tried to make something happen off of the dribble against a quicker opponent. Everyone was tentative. Guys stood around pointing and yellling. Wallace is visably frustrated with his teammates. I sort of think that JTIII's strategy of only playing his best 6 last year is really hurting us now. We only have 3 guys who are comfortable in the offense. Everyone looks scared and tentative. Indeed, that is why we had so many turnovers. We didn't shoot that badly -- but we didn't shoot that much either.

This was a terrible terrible loss. Oregon is not a good team and any reasonable performance from us should have resulted in a win. They played us man-to-man and we still couldn't take advantage. In the post-game interviews JTIII did not seem to question the players or the system. I hope he is not being too patient. There is no way we should have had trouble against Oregon.

Jester of Magellan said...

I agree with both Diamond and IBP in large part.

First, the offense looked stagnant. I've actually been noticing this the last few games. You don't see players moving. There aren't a lot of the backdoor cuts that make the system work. I had previously believed that this was a result of the zone defenses we've been seeing. But Oregon played man last night. And we still didn’t have a lot of backdoor cuts. I know that we had quite a few passes to players cutting backdoor that missed their intended targets early on. This might have been because the Ducks were quicker than us, but I don't know. All I do know is that something is broken. And when something is fundamentally broken with your game plan you have to look at the coaching. I love JTIII, but if he can't get the players to run his offense, or if his offense isn't working, that's on him.

I also agree with IBP that Green looked bad. JTIII was asked after the game if Green needed to start being less of a team player and start being more selfish. Without elaborating, he said “yes.” I agree with this assessment. In fact, JTIII said the whole team was too “tentative” on offense. That’s definitely Green’s biggest problem. There were several instances last night when he was down low with the ball and I could actually see him think about putting up a shot, before he suddenly changed his mind and kicked the ball back out. He needs to put up those shots. Down the stretch in the tournament he took games over. He needs to do that again. We’ve heard too many times that Green is a really smart player. He needs to start thinking less and reacting more.

That being said, I think Roy was definitely the biggest disappointment yesterday. He was absolutely dominated by a player 5 inches shorter than him. It’s getting to the point that if an opposing player so much as breathes on Roy he’s going to miss the shot. He must have missed 5 lay-ups in the first half. If we had those points then we’re starting the second half from a position of power, which plays into the grinding nature of the Princeton-style offense. I think Roy’s missteps are a large part of our failed game plan. The team (and Thompson) knows full well that we’re a much more formidable team when Roy is a down low threat. So, we do whatever we can to get him involved. I think we actually focus on him too much. Players are working so hard to get him the ball that we pass up shots, make turnovers, and end up standing around. And even when he gets the ball he blows it. Green might have been highly touted coming into this season, but I distinctly remember seeing Hibbert on the cover of SI. So far, I’d have to have to say that his “poster boy” status is in no way called for.

I need to give some accolades to Wallace. Last night he seemed to be the only player on the floor who really wanted it (except maybe for Rivers who, despite what the idiots with the seats behind me think, played a decent game; especially on defense). He carried the team during the first half when Green and Hibbert combined for a big goose egg. At the beginning of the season everyone said that if Jonathan stepped up we would be a contender. He has. The problem is that no one though our highly touted frontcourt would be back peddling.