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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In order for us to win it all

someone is going to have to be considerably better than we expect. We know James White's potential, and we know our point guards will be good, and we know what Josh Hagins can do when he gets hot. So, it will not be one of those, because they are known quantities. Lots of folks are hyping Mareik Isom to be the man, and he well could be. Ben Dillard has been steady but not spectacular throughout his career, and maybe he will turn spectacular for his senior year. Maybe Gus Leeper learns to throw around his weight and strength down low. If he does so, not many in the Belt could handle him. Maybe Roger Woods will be as good at D1 as he was at juco. I am not prophet nor the son of a prophet, so I could not say; but we need someone to take that big step forward. It will be fun seeing who it is. But if no one does, it will be a long season.

Where Reid is really going to help

We have only two players returning who shot over 32% from the arc last year. So we need some help from the outside. Hopefully Mareik is going to keep the stroke he found late in the year, but we really need James Reid to come through in a big way for us when we need firepower from the arc.

Holding late leads

Championship teams have to win close games. You win close games, among other things, by making free throws, getting to the line yourself, and avoiding turnovers. So how do we look in those categories?

We were second in the Belt at the line behind Ga State, who were unbelievably good from the line. Hagins, Leeper, Dillard and Billings all shot at least 75% from the line, and presumably some of the incoming players can add to the mix there, so we are in good shape there. (White could really help us if he improved his shooting from the line.) Shields has said that getting to the line more was going to be one of the emphases of the team this year, and we know Dillard and Woods are very good at drawing fouls. Regarding turnovers, Smith lead the league in A/TO ratio according to the official Belt list, but this is one place we need to improve. Presumably we might be running a four-guard offense late in the game, and we could put some pretty good ball handlers out there. But as a team we need to cut down on turnovers.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The essence of defense

It is not in blocking the shot, but in disrupting and impeding the offense so that they cannot get into the position they want in order to take the shot they want.