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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Taking Stock

The blog has been a very quiet place as of late. It wasn't until today that I could even bring myself to update the Hoyas' record in the left-hand column. The loss to Nova stung. Losses to the Wildcats always do. But I think it was especially bad because we had finally looked like a contender in our game against Notre Dame. I guess we have some room to grow soon.

Some quick thoughts. Throughout the pre-conference season we have been sounded like a broken record about Roy Hibbert's weakness. Over and over we've said that he needs to play more physical. He needs to finish shots and he needs to use his size. Villanova exposed how soft Roy really is. Hibbert finished with two points and not a single shot from the field. He could have had a shot, and potentially a field goal, if he had fought through the foul that led to his two free throws, but I digress. Roy's lack of productiveness can partially be attributed to the excellent job Villanova did keeping a hand in our guards faces and preventing them from seeing the passing lanes into the paint. But the bigger problem was Roy's inability to get position. There were definitely a few times when he was able to get open, and you could hear the collective gasp from the crowd as they hoped in vain that someone would get him the ball. But these opportunities were few and far between. A physical center, even one that is much shorter that Roy, can dominate him if they are willing to push him around a bit. In the Big East you should find lots of candidates willing to take on this role. To be honest, I don't know what Roy can do to overcome this problem. I just don't think he has it in him.

My second observation has to deal with the full court press. Nova threw a press against the Hoyas for the entire game. Immediately after the contest I thought we had done an okay against it. There wasn't a single 10-second violation. We had a few turnovers off the press, but we were throwing the ball away all over the place in our half court set too. But the more I think about it, the more I realized how devastating the press really was. We methodically broke Villanova's pressure, but we did it slowly. As a result we were consistently forced to run our half-court offense with only 25 seconds. I think this made it much harder for us to get good looks. JTIII definitely needs to address this issue and find a way to get across half court more quickly.

Moving forward, all is far from lost. We have a tough game this Saturday, which I personally think we should and will lose. But the season is still quite young, and this past week as shown that the Big East is wide open. Connecticut and Marquette, two excellent teams that have been ranked for much of the early season, both have losing records in conference so far. Providence, a team that no one has talked much about, is 2-0 with a quality win against Marquette. That Notre Dame team that we killed went out and beat a hot West Virginia team. In short, the conference is going to be tough, but everyone is going to lose games. We need to keep our heads up, learn from our mistakes, and improve. If we do, we'll be fine. We have the talent, we just need to find the passion and execute.

Go Hoyas!


Diamond_Mike said...

I think you are right on regarding the press. Wright designed it not to create turnovers but to prevent us from running our offense. This has troubled me for a while. We need to be able to score in under 30 seconds. I understand the methodical, disciplined approach. But when we are losing or the other team is slowing us down in the backcourt, we need to be able to get a quick bucket.

I put this loss squarely on JTIII. He did not make the needed adjustments at half-time. We remain undefeated in the first half of our games. This is not a good coaching statistic.

Roy is soft and needs to get better position. We were better with Macklin and Pat Jr. in the game than we were with Green and Hibbert. That's just pathetic.

We gave the game away to a very mediocre team but I'm confident we will beat Pitt. Pitt plays man exclusively, doesn't press well, and does not have quick interior players. They are a much better match-up for us and we should come in with something to prove.

IPB said...

We were outcoached and outplayed during the entire game. Period. This loss was a collective failure and not the result of one single player.

Summers is the only member of the team who played reasonably well.

If Hibbert was deemed to have a bad game, what about Jeff Green? He stunk up the Verizon Center as bad or worse than Hibbert. When our two arguably "best" players combine for less than 10 pts, we are going to lose.

And even my beloved JWal had a terrible game. And I could go on and on. But I won't.

We also reacted as if we had never seen a press before.

While I agree that Nova is a mediocre team at best, their players and coach deserve big-time credit. They came in with a game plan, ready to play, and executed their plan to perfection. We did not react and probably overlooked Villanova in anticipation of the Pitt matchup.

Hopefully Diamond is correct when he predicts that we will muster a better effort against Pitt.

Jester of Magellan said...

IBP, you are the consumate Hibbert apologist. Green had a bad game. Especially given his five turnovers. But to say that he was as bad as Roy is ridiculous. Look at their lines:

Green: 26 min; 2-5 FGM-A; 3-3 FTM-A; 0 Off; 4 Reb; 1 Ast; 7 Pts.

Hibbert: 24 min; 0-0 FGM-A; 2-6 FTM-A; 2 Off; 3 Reb; 0 Ast; 2 Pts.

How is it possible for a man as big as Roy, a man 4 inches taller than the opponents tallest player, to not even have a field goal attempt. At least with Green's turnover we know he was at the game!

That said, I give Villanova all the props in the world. They may be a "mediocre" team, but they played great defense all night. Defense like that will win them games.

IPB said...

I do stick up for Hibbert because he (like Wallace) does so many things that never ever show up on a stat sheet. I have watched him time and time again disrupt a team's offensive flow even though he never blocks a shot, grabs a rebound, etc. Alternatively, I have seen numerous instances where opposing teams get buckets and execute plays that they would never be able to execute when he is on the court. So I think we need to cut him a break.

There is no question Hibbert was not as aggressive as he needed to be during the Villanova contest. But there is also no question that his teammates did an absolutely horrific job of feeding him the ball. Big men need to be fed in the right spots (Hibbert's few catches at the top of the key and at the 3 point line almost don't count) and our guys just didn't find him last game and when they tried they threw ghastly passes. He can't attempt FGs when his teammates don't get him the ball.

My criticism of Green is usually more cutting because he is clearly the more gifted natural athlete, but frankly I don't feel that he has progressed much in the last year. In fact, in many ways, he looks worse. Granted the season is still early, but he certainly hasn't looked in most games like a guy who garned BE rookie of the year honors.

If the team is truly "his", which many Georgetown fans feel, he needs to start acting like it.

As I keep saying, the big upside to what has been a disappointing season (so far) for Green is that he may stick around for another year given how strong this year's draft is projected to be.

Hibbert, on the other hand, has clearly made strides each year and I don't see how a player can be faulted for that.

Diamond_Mike said...

Pomeroy had a great defense of Hibbert as one of the best defenders on college basketball on

This statistic really hammers it home:

Opponents' FG% when Roy is on the court: 36.1%
Opponents' FG% when Roy is off the court: 47.8%

Jester of Magellan said...

I've been wanting to read this article.

Diamond_Mike said...

It is not password protected. You can just go to it. It is fascinating. Pomery is some kind of genius.