Monday, January 19, 2009

Rising and Falling Prices

This is what the offense was capable of doing in every game. The guards were hitting the outside shot, the big men dominated the paint, they passed the ball crisply and they weren’t careless with the possessions. This team’s weakness since entering conference play was their turnovers. They would have stretches of ballgames that they would cough it up due to poor decisions. In this game, they were able to keep control of the ball and find the open teammate, ending the game with 20 assists to 7 turnovers. On defense, they stayed in their man-to-man, protecting the perimeter and limiting the streaky Seton Hall’s shooters to only 7 of 24 from the behind the arch. They were able to contain Eugene Harvey, Jeremy Hazell, and Robert Mitchell to 18 of 44 from the field and were able to limit their possessions to one and done, dominating the boards with 38 rebounds.

Price continues his rollercoaster season. He finished with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting, 5 assists to 1 turnover, and 2 boards. His midrange game was in full effect, pulling up for jumpers in the lane, and dropping floaters over the bigs. He also displayed his silky smooth touch from the outside, hitting 3 of 6 from deep. He wasn’t forcing passes inside and made it a priority of not turning the ball over. He needs to put back-to-back good games together though. These on one game and off another puts a lot of pressure on the other guards.

Dyson early on looked like he was going to come out of his four game long shooting slump. He hit an early three and also was able to drop a few runners, but the lid on the basket soon closed and he ended the night shooting 3 of 13. During stretches of the ballgame he was too quick to take a shot and was caught in the air and made some erratic passes. He played great defense, taking a charge, and showed his toughness with playing through a twisted ankle. He did pull-up and try a mid-ranged shot which clanked and he needs to continue to shoot that shot, even though this slump is getting pretty lengthy.

Austrie, Mr. Reliable, had the outside shot working, hitting 2 of 3, pulled down a board, had an assist, and didn’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t complain, doesn’t get flustered, and doesn’t do anything to negatively impact his team. He just does his job. Kemba was 3 of 4 from the field, had 2 boards, 1 block and 4 assists to 3 turnovers. He looks like a senior playing man-to-man defense and is able to play in your face defense without fouling.

Thabeet had a monster double-double and ended with the line of the night with 15 points, 17 boards, 1 assist to 2 turnovers, and 4 blocks. He has been struggling at the line in the past couple of games, only hitting 3 of 7. Hasheem has improved drastically in the rebounding department. He was solid on the defensive end, and handled being pulled out of the paint and still played solid help defense. He needs to seal his man off better with his right arm. He is letting the defender get inside him and not letting the guard’s have a clean entry pass. Adrien was just as solid with 13 points, 12 boards, 3 assists to 1 turnover, and 2 blocks. He also had a poor free throw shooting game, ending the game shooting 3 of 8 from the line. His elbow jumper is looking better and he isn’t hesitating with taking that shot.

Robinson was active all game. He was constantly moving without the ball, probing the paint for rebounds and put-backs. He ended the game with 4 points on 2 of 3 shooting, 1 block, 2 boards, and he only played 10 minutes. Edwards only had 6 minutes and was effective, ending with 2 points and 2 boards.

This team’s offensive woes seem to come down to taking care of the ball and sharing it, and that relies on the guards being patient and playing under control. But the way to the championship rests on their defense. They have shown more consistency in that department. They can play the zone to clog the paint or they can stay man-to-man to protect the arch from deadly shooters. They are playing hard on that end of the court and the opponent’s missed shots are turning into fast break opportunities on the other end of the court. They’ll need to show this solid defensive performance again to throw a wrench in a streaky Villanova squad.

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