Where was that team two nights ago.
Passed out last night before getting this up so apologies for the roughness--I got a Turkey to cook!
I was impressed with the improved gameplan coming out of the gate. We built an early lead by doing the things I was griping about in the last review. Avery Holmes was involved early, penetrating and getting to the basket. He also was taking more 3's and running the offense. This is much better than Roper and DeVoe launching a ton of 3's as our main source of offense. We also tried to work inside out and got the ball down low consistently. We could have done that against UMass as well, but fell in love with the three as we got behind and panicked.
I think the difference in the game was Donte Grantham being able to get to the basket early and in transition. He got into double figures in the first eight minutes of the game. Our best players are Grantham and Blossomgame. They need to take the shots and be complemented by Holmes and Nnoko or Djitte off the bench. We aren't a good three point shooting team and I think we should embrace that reality more. We were 5-19 overall and Roper going 0-5. Not going to get it done. However, in the first part of the first half we had only taken about three or four threes. Grantham and Jaron Blossomgame were getting to the basket and drawing fouls.
Jordan Roper didn't have a bad game in all areas, but he continues to struggle to shoot the ball with any consistency. He keeps missing wide open, completely uncontested three point shots. Today he was taking some more jumpers inside the arc but kept clanging bricks to the tune of 2-10 shooting. Not going to get it done. However, Roper was excellent protecting the ball and playing the point position for the most part. Four assists and no turnovers to go along with 3 steals. That is excellent and more of the role I hope Roper can fill moving forward because he shouldn't be the first or second offensive threat in the game.
Nnoko got tagged for 4 personal fouls. In his defense one was one of the worst calls I have seen so far this year. Nnoko was setting a screen down below, perfectly set, and the Rutgers player launches himself to the floor in search of an Academy Award nomination. The ref sees the high flying acrobatics and whistles without actually seeing the Nnoko and the player barely had any contact. Nnoko was 6-7 down below in the paint though and finally was more aggressive. He needs to be taking 10-15 shots a night.
Player of the game was easily JB. First, Blossomgame went 6-6 from the free throw line. He also was the leading rebounder in the game with 9. He and Holmes were 2-4 from 3-point range (accounting for 4 of the 5 made 3s, meaning the rest of the team shot 1-11, uggghh...). JB was nifty around the basket. He was driving under control and contorting his body to get contact and to the free throw line. He poured in 22 points while only committing one turnover--good stuff from your star player. 7-11 from the field is getting it done.
Two causes for concern. We got into foul trouble and the turnovers. The first one isn't really that bad because one of the refs was absolutely dreadful in this game. The Nnoko foul and some of the touch fouls were very amateur hour. Holmes got into foul trouble early and kept him from really getting into a rhythm (a shame since he started the game hot and got us the initial lead).
Turnovers are a cause for concern. I think part of the reason we struggled against UMass is we weren't prepared for their physicality and they capitalized on our turnovers. I can't really say right now why we are committing the turnovers--UMass only had three steals and we committed 11 turnovers. We got 8 steals, which accounted for 15 of UMass's turnovers. We keep making unforced errors.
Cut down on the bricks and the unforced turnovers and this game is a total blowout.
Overall a much better game and a style of play I can get behind. Grantham and JB have the talent to take us to the tournament. Holmes and Nnoko are nice complimentary pieces--everyone else get behind them and play your roles. Get to the basket and play inside out early in games. Don't fall in love with the three unless you can prove that you can consistently make wide open 3s (Brownell needs to recruit a Midwest shooter--Creighton seems to have an entire team of moderately athletic but deadly shooters).
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I want all your best recipes and what you are serving today in the comments.