Well, that was a 2-sided answer I gave about lack of ‘style-points’ – I also said there’s no kvetching about 29-1, and I have to stick w/ that (“They look bad to me” is just unfair on the face of it <Marty being Marty>…let those #’s sink in… any Big-Time Program in any one of the half-dozen Big Time Conferences would be envious…29-1 demands props & is impressive from any angle)….as to the deficencies in this team, lissen-up ’cause I’m speaking ex-cathedra here:
#1 @ the top of the list is that this team has near-zero half-court game. They’re primarily, almost exclusively, a defensively-minded team that scores in transition – look at any box score & you’ll see what this team is all about: 1st in steals & def. fg % & 2nd in blocked shots…that tells you something right there…you’ll see that the deciding stat in almost every game has been ‘Points Off Turnovers’ (this is fact & cannot be argued)….every good analyst, professional or amateur, will acknowledge that when they force turnovers & run in transition they’re nearly unbeatable by anyone anywhere…on the other hand is that near-zero set-offense I mentioned – the last really-good SU team, in 2010, had a great half-court game w/ Rautins handling the ball & dishing to a very rugged front-court that included Arinze Onuaku & Rick Jackson, and Wes Johnson who could score from anywhere, create his own shot or drive @ will & get fouled (& hit the FT’s!)…..this team runs, or struggles. One sure-fire way to keep them from running is to pass the ball around the perimeter for most of the shot clock before trying to score…teams in the BE are doing that, and it’s reflected in the low final scores….bottom-line come tournament-time is: RUN OR BE DONE.
#2 on the list of deficiencies is the lack of a dependable 3-pt shooter (Wes could shoot it, but Rautins had the dagger!)….the 2 best shooters, Trische & Southerland, are, unfortunately, both head-cases…Southerland has perfect form & deep range, but the game is still too fast for him, I think…and if Trisch missses that 1st one he buries his chin (& if he makes a dumb mistake or a bad pass he’ll sulk like Achilles in his tent <he needs to take a lesson from Scoop, who never lets one of his monumental train wrecks throw him off-stride>)…..they’re pretty good knocking down 3’s in transition, but not off the half-court sets, which really just subsumes this problem under #1 – half-court woes.
This team can only “impose it’s will” through it’s zone defense, and the scoring opportunities it creates via turnovers…..RUN OR BE DONE will be my tournament mantra……and it’s here, with the way these guys play that zone, where I lay our tournament chances. You can watch film & study the x’s & o’s, but unless you’ve played against it before (see Pitino), you have no idea how disruptive it can be (witness the many horrorcore ‘runs’ they’ve put on teams this year – 26-0, 19-0, 17-0 etc.)….what makes this effective zone a GREAT one this year is Dion’s miraculous decision to buy into it (strong, smart & lightning-quick) and the equally miraculous play of the Fabulous Fabrizio Melo!…..Fab is still not a great rebounder or scorer (tho’ he WILL be a big-time scorer someday), but he’s the key component of the zone (in the ONLY loss of the season, @ ND, when he was sitting out the suspension, their big Irish lug, Cooney or Cooley, was unstoppable underneath & won the game for them)….Fab don’t/won’t allow that (did you see him do the Mutumbo finger-wag @ UConn’s Drummond after blocking his shot?!)…he doesn’t foul, he takes charges, he blocks & disrupts shots & he runs the floor like a fucking gazelle….how could anyone who saw him ‘play’ last year possibly imagine this year’s dominance?!….as long as they play that 2-3 w/ movement, anticipation & quickness, I honestly believe they can & would & will beat any team in the country, including the very talented, and very young, Kentucky Wildcats.
I’ve always admired the rugged style of the Big 12, but I do believe the ‘Cuse would run any of them outta the building!.