Monday, September 1, 2014

Play to this strength

Steve Shields already has commented on how he wants the team to focus more on getting to the basket instead of settling so much for jump shots. If you look at our stats, that is very smart. We were second in the league last year behind Georgia State in free throw shooting at 73.8%. If you shoot well, then you shoot more. You cannot shoot more FTs unless you are aggressive on offense, and we have the guys to be aggressive this year, whether through strength or quickness, or just good basketball smarts. We averaged 2.6 points/game less than our opponents last season. Three extra FTs per game would close that gap.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Addition can be deceiving

You cannot always tell which will be the best team by comparing player vs. player, position by position. There is such a thing as teamwork, as chemistry, as the will to win, and the little things that good players do that fans and even many TV commentators do not notice. Sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. What makes it happen? Good character and unselfishness in the players. Good coaching, of course. Players who have been together on the same team for three or four - or even five - years together so that they know each other's moves instinctively. All this is why the teams with the best players do not always win.

DeVonte Smith

The thing that immediately jumps out at you about DeVonte is that 2.9 assist/turnover ratio. By the way, that lead the league by a comfortable margin. The kid just does not turn the ball over very much. Interestingly, he does not have as many assists as Josh Hagins, but then he does not have nearly as many turnovers, either. Coaches like point guards who "value the ball," and he certainly does that.

DeVonte could stand to improve his offensive production some. He does not need to shoot a lot from the 3-point line, but when he does he needs to shoot better than he did last year. His overall shooting percentage was not good, either. If he would just make his shots, his scoring would come around to where we need it to be. But negatives aside, this young man is still a very nice point guard. We got a steal with him.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Trickle down from Fayetteville?

Does heightened interest in Fayetteville basketball have any secondary benefit to the other schools in the state? My guess is that it does not, or if it does it is negligible. For the most part Fayetteville fans root for them because they are Fayetteville fans, not because they are basketball fans. In fact, until the bowl season is over, few of them pay much attention to basketball.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gus Leeper

Gus is far from being our most athletic player, and I think some fans undervalue him because of that. He has weak points in his game, for sure, but he is intelligent, bull-strong, and a fifth year senior. Combine that with a good work ethic, and he has definite value to this team, especially being undersized as we are. He is steady and does not make a lot of mistakes. What he gives up in quickness is somewhat compensated for by experience and strength. Add to that the fact that he is an exceptional free throw shooter for a big man, and he brings a lot to the table.

Gus' liabilities are mainly on the defensive end because of the new rules and the fact that he is a little slow of foot. But experience and good coaching can help compensate for that to some extent, and his strength and experience and FT shooting on the offensive end mean that he will be of definite help in certain situations. Gus just has to learn to be more aggressive on offense, and not to take chances on defense. He presents the classic two-way match-up problem. On offense, other teams will have trouble handling his size and strength. On defense, he will have trouble handling quicker players. But he brings enough to the table that he will be a key player this year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Juco connections

At our level, reliable juco connections are critical. You have to be tight with coaches who are good coaches and whose judgment you trust to evaluate both the player's ability and his character. You do not want a coach who will "sell" his player by sugarcoating the situation. He needs to know your program and the type players who will fit your style. If you can get several of these coaches in top-level juco programs who are working with you, that is a huge step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Coach

We have perhaps become so frustrated at our inability to win a league championship that we undervalue Steve Shields. He is a good coach. To this point, at least, he is not a great coach.  We all lament his tendency to over-coach from the sideline, but he is far from being the only coach that suffers from that disease. He has been fairly consistent, avoiding very many awful seasons, but not having very many really good ones, either. Good, but not great.

Steve expects his players to learn and improve from season to season, and he is going to have to hold himself to the same standard. He is going to have to grow as a coach. Each coach has his system and should stick with it. Still, he must show some flexibility and adapt to the specifics of the situation each year.