Wednesday, December 1, 2010
All the signs were there for a major let down. Over hype from three great victories, Walker garnering praise from every media outlet for his superb play, and a crisp new top ten ranking, and this team came out flat, expecting shear talent to decide the outcome. But this team still has some striking weaknesses. There is no one other then Oriakhi that is willing or able to secure rebounds from ten feet and in. The defense was there for much of the night, though the full court pressure didn’t cause any turnovers and instead gave up some easy points at the other end. But it was the offense that sputtered. Nothing seemed to be dropping from anyone not named Walker. The spacing was horrible and they were jacking up shots with no one in position for a rebound. With no one willing to step up, it once again turned into a one man show and Walker saved the day.
Kemba started out slow missing a few shots, but slowly turned his game around and sank a couple of jumpers and drove to the lane. He is on such an incredible clip right now and even though he is the focus of everyone’s defense, he is getting to where he wants to go. The only knock against him is that his man is scoring on him with back door cuts or wide open jumpers. But that is a nitpicking since he is shouldering the entire offensive load. He was simply dynamic.
When Oriakhi went out with two fouls, the team found out that they have no one to hold down the paint. New Hampshire out rebounded them and was able to pull away on multiple looks at the rim. Alex had a much better showing in the second half, but he wasn’t as strong with the ball as he was in Maui. He wasn’t getting the rebounds that bounced ten feet and out. Offensively he struggled other then some put backs. He needs to relax when he gets the ball in the post and not rush shots. And the free throw line continues to frustrate him.
Olander had a tough night. He was late several times on help defense and didn’t rebound well, especially when Oriakhi had two fouls. He had some touches in the paint and showed some post moves, but seemed to linger in the paint to long. Okwandu had a couple of nice blocks but had a horrible hook shot and had some turnovers. For some reason Calhoun doesn’t give him any minutes in the second half of ballgames.
Smith did block a ton of shots, but this team needs his rebounding more and he didn’t respond. He also struggled offensively and needs to find a way to either free up his jumper which he has shown that he can hit or find a way to get to the rim. He did neither. Coombs-McDaniel started out strong with a lay-up, rebound and block, but then clanked everything else. He also didn't find ways to get to the line or rebound. Giffey also struggled. He missed every shot he took and had a travel. He did some good things. He had a nice steal and rebound which he was fouled but only made two of four from the line and needs to do better.
Napier is flashy and does free up Walker, but he gambles too much defensively and puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He also forces shots and needs to take his shots in the flow of the game. He is playing the Rondo defense and letting his man by him and swatting at the ball, which isn't good. Lamb is struggling, made some plays in the first half, but didn’t do anything late. He needs to find his role and how to get himself involved in the offense. He just doesn't look like a two guard. Beverly played better then he had previously and didn't force the action, but he did have a few costly turnovers. He is a perfect foil to Napier's game right now.
This game was to be expected from such a young team. Any type of over confidence and relaxation, even against New Hampshire's talent, can get you beat. This team is still a work in progress with Calhoun trying to figure out the right combination, especially on the wings. They are also going to need rebounders other then Oriakhi. Either Olander, Okwandu, Smith, Coombs-McDaniel, and Giffey need to step up and help shoulder some of the rebounding load and they aren’t getting it done. Hopefully this game woke them up and they can put the sun screen away and get down to business, because they look like the team that was heading into the Maui Invitational and not the one that left.