Friday, December 3, 2010

Month in Review: November 2010

No one knew what to expect from this team as it headed into November. There were plenty of questions from the freshmen, sophomores, to Kemba Walker’s ability to shoulder the offensive load and they answered most of them, rattling off some impressive wins against Michigan State and Kentucky. The defense was impressive right from the get go. The freshmen all bought into Calhoun’s man-to-man and pressure defense. There are still some glaring weaknesses, starting with rebounding. While Oriakhi is doing his part, others are struggling in helping out. Offensively it has been hit or miss, literally. Against Michigan State and Kentucky, the ball passed around and the half court offense looked fluid, but then there were games where they dribbled the shot clock down then took a horrible shot or it turned into the watch Kemba do his thing show.

Walker was nothing short of amazing. He has been able to find his range this season and it has opened everything up for him. He has also developed a spin move off the dribble for a pretty jumper. The blazing speed has always been there, but he is playing under control. To put it simply, he has the total package. His superior play has allowed the freshmen to wean their way into the game, but they will eventually need to step up and contribute more.

Oriakhi’s improvement has been overshadowed by Walker’s but it is still impressive. He is rebounding much better and is finishing strong around the rim. He still hasn’t developed a consistent post move or elbow jumper yet, but he is giving what this team needs now, a presence down low. Another thing that he needs to improve on is his free throws. He has a nice form but isn’t able to hit two in a row for some reason.

Napier has been the most impressive freshman. He has tremendous ability with the dribble, though he carries a lot, and he can knock down the jumper. What is most impressive is that he isn’t afraid to make a play, even if they are bad shots. He has given Walker the ability to play without the ball and it has helped the team greatly. His defense can be smothering but he also gambles and puts a lot of pressure on the back side of the defense.

Giffey has also been a surprise. He plays the best defense of the freshmen. He doesn’t gamble like Napier, and has the length to bother shots. He isn't that athletic but he moves his feet well. Though he is a streaky shooter, he has shown the ability to knock down shots and get to the rim. His big weakness now is dribbling. He gets in trouble if he dribbles four or more times.

Smith is finding his role. He can block shots and knock down jumpers but he is struggling in finding ways to get open. It will take some time for him to get used to when and where to take shots, but he has the talent to make a major contribution in the upcoming months. Coombs-McDaniel has been as inconsistent as the freshmen. He still hasn't had a good outside shooting game yet, but he has been able to get to the rim more. He needs to rebound better.

Beverly is still getting over his hip surgery which sidelined him for the off season. He should show better contributions now that he has shaken off some of the rust off, but the emergence of Napier has stolen some of his minutes. Donnell has handled the point well, but this team will need him to knock down shots and contribute more offensively in the future. Lamb is still trying to find out where he fits. He looks uncomfortable with the dribble in traffic and hasn’t shown much on the offensive end of the floor. For him to be an effective guard, he is going to have take the ball to the basket.

Olander has contributed more then expected. He has a tough minded attitude and isn’t afraid to mix it up inside. He is going to be a really good player when he adds the extra muscle to his frame. He already has a better post game then Oriakhi and isn’t afraid to show his range. He just needs consistency. Okwandu has shown some good and bad in his limited play. He blocks shots and hustles, but also is careless with the ball and is a liability on the offensive end. He hasn’t earned Calhoun’s trust yet and barely makes the court in the second half.

Heading into December, this team has to figure out how to get Smith, Lamb, Coombs-McDaniel, and Giffey involved more offensively and at the rebounding end. They started off hot and set themselves up for a nice season, but they need to build off this early momentum. They have the best player in the country, but that hasn’t always added up to a great season for many teams. It takes a well rounded squad to make noise, especially in the Big East. But if they can gel, it could become something very special.

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