Think UCONN in '11: How I Learned Not to Worry Too Much About the Huskies' Woes
AJ Price once said in a public interview that his playing with Craig Austrie was a lot more fun and easier than playing with Jerome Dyson, without putting the latter down. Dyson is very talented for what he does so well, usually by himself. Kemba Walker, still developing as an elite point guard, is obviously finding it not so easy playing with Dyson, either.
This explains the lack of chemistry between the two as evidenced by their frequent one-on-five forays towards the hoop.
These two also seem to avoid high-percentage mid-range shots. Those shots could have won at least four more games for us, with or without free-shooting woes that have doomed them. They play almost apart from each other. The Kentucky, Cincinnati, Georgetown, and Michigan defeats could have been avoided, with or without foul shooting. Just simple mid-range shoots, baby.
This drives a wedge in team chemistry and hampers offensive fluidity in the half-court sets.
Therefore, it behooves the reader to ask: Is a mid-range shot easier to make than a foul shot? Well, with the Huskies being unable to solve the free throw shooting conundrum, the unsettling, easy answer might just be a yes.
The mandatory screening also appears either ineffective or almost non-existent. Probably because of the overly valiant one-on-five kamikaze, me-against-the-world drives to the basket of you know who.
Again, the simple and productive backdoor plays are rarely used. There is decent ball movement but, strangely enough, hardly any player movement, which explains the lack of these backdoor cuts and frontcourt penetrations. The propensity to make a kamikaze drive to the hoop by Dyson and Walker with 8-10 seconds left on the clock leaves the fans high and dry.
On the half-court, since Stanley Robinson's three-point skills are rarely used anyway, why not let him play the four for offensive rebounding and put-backs. Ater Majok can play the three for three-point shooting and high percentage 15-20 foot jump shots. This would pull one of the other team's bigs out of the rebounding zone, thus opening up some lanes for the guards to squeeze through, and help our offensive rebounding in the process as well.
Majok's potential success with this approach may force the defense to abandon zone set-ups that have bedeviled this poor shooting team since time immemorial.
On the defensive half court, Majok can play the four for defensive rebounding. On the offensive half-court set, again, Majok can play the three since he has three-point range and also from within 15-20 feet. Because of his lack of speed, a guard should help him with the screens and switches. Not a difficult chore since we have super quick guards, except for Donnell Beverly.
On playing time, since Alex Oriakhi tires fast, he should play only 26-28 minutes. Robinson can play 28-30 minutes. This might minimize his mysterious disappearances and help him avoid fatique especially during the last seven minutes. Okwandu should get 8-12 minutes, Edward 28-32, Majok 20-24, Walker 26-30, JCM 12-15. Darius Smith and Trice each can play 6-10 minutes.
To be not non-offensive, the following duos should not be on the same floor together: Okwandu and Majok, Trice and Beverly, Dyson and Trice. Any combination of two guards will do. A three-guard combo of Dyson, JCM, and Walker is the only acceptable trio.
Might be potent against a fluid, small team like Pittsburgh, against whom I'd fancy, rather belatedly, a three–guard combo with Robinson and Edward. Maybe at the Big East Conference? I think this three-guard set-up might work well against Villanova, West Virginia, Louisville, and Marquette, too. With our super quick guards, a three-guard would enhance ball movement, backdoors, and mid-range jump shots, although I'd fancy a rare four-guard lineup against a slow team. A quick four-guard would have killed Harvard and the Hofstras of the eastern world. Jeremy Lin would not have fared well against a double-team. And he is the only one who could score. Sorry for the digression.
Back to the main course. No need to despair about our lack of three-point shooting, if the high-percentage medium range shots are exploited.
Also, I feel Calhoun is “kind” of not really exploiting all of Majok’s potential, unwittingly or not, since he absolutely wants Majok to return and not jump ship to the NBA too soon, like this year! Calhoun is “forcing” Majok to become a great high-post player and perhaps uncork his three-point and mid-range skills next year? Maybe.
Calhoun, I think, will settle for an early out at 32 or 16, tops, in the NCAA and then gun for the Final Four push for next year. I kind of like that. I hope he succeeds.
Also, if we either Josh Selby, Doron Lamb, or Brandon Knight to play the backcourt with Walker, we might get a third championship in 2011 to boot.
And maybe a repeat in 2012, if most of them, especially Knight, will return.
I feel Calhoun can retire nobly and triumphantly under that scenario. Maybe one of those years, as he had dreamt, the men’s and women’s basketball and football NCAA championships could be UCONN's.
This might sound greedy, but it’s a free country, baby. It just might solve recession with those happy fans buying beer, snackies, victory shirts, banners, and what not. They'd, for one, burn the Internet wires. Hey, tell Mr. Obama. He's a basketball fan too.
The women’s basketball team will obviously contend again next year. The football team and men’s basketball have great 2010-11 recruits (Drummond is coming!).
Oh, my, I'm drooling. I want to dream big-time. With the maestro Jim Calhoun.
Since I am playing arm-chair general, please indulge my temporary insanity. How about this? Two platoon teams will play eight minutes each, alternately. For example, Dyson will play with his compatible set of players for the opening eight minutes of up-tempo. Then a second platoon led by Walker and his compatible set of teammates will come in and play their own style of up-tempo. And so on. Let each of these two experience it and accomplish some as the unmitigated court general. We still would have the last eight minutes, where Dyson and Walker can reunite and lead up an up-tempo assault.
By this time, the other team is wrung dry and de-oxygenated. Would it work? I dream so.
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