November 14, 2012

Three Games In - Basketball Update - with Puppies

The first three games of the season have all been disappointing ones for the basketball team, which now sits at a 1-2 record after their first week. In order to play a couple early season games against some decent teams, UVA needed to win two games against less-than-decent teams at home this week. Well, no challenge being too light to screw up for UVA sports, the guys escaped a tenacious MAAC squad in Fairfield Monday night and then lost to the Fightin' Blue Hens of Delaware last night, 59-53. The Hoos scored 15 points in the first half.

Nope. That's not an embellishment. Not a joke. 15 points. In a half. Against Blue Hens.

Shoot me in the head.

Remarkably, the team came out in the second half like they actually wanted to play basketball and even managed to take the lead with eight minutes left. They then preceded to mark Delaware's best shooter, who is of normal Division-1 basketball player height, with a walk-on who's shorter than Havens (read: really freaking short). Guess what? It didn't work. No, two threes by Devon Saddler and another bucket later, and the Hoos had quickly given back the lead in a big way. Considering the team can barely score more than the football team, that 8 point burst was more than enough to cancel the Wahoos' tickets to NYC.

But Pierce, we don't have a point guard. In fact, we are without our top three point guards, save the 3 minutes or so Jontel was able to play in the first half. That's a huge handicap against any capable college team, no matter if their mascot is a dyed lady bird.

Fair point, but how long have Jontel and Brogdon been hurt? Months. How many people are on the team? How many of those people are more capable to lead a team than Doug Browman? Oh, I don't about Joe Harris? Or Justin Anderson? or TaylorfreakingBarnett. The game got away from the Hoos late in one very specific stretch when one very terrible lineup was kept on for too many possessions. As soon as Anderson came back in, things leveled out, but it was too late.

Don't get me wrong, this loss and the loss to George Mason are not on Doug Browman. UVA couldn't shoot, threw the ball away, gave up too many rebounds, and played one of the worst halves of basketball imaginable. Now, the coaches do set the line-up... so there's culpability in some decisions there. Also - does Tony Bennett only recruit guys who are scared to shoot? In the brief instances that someone does go out of their way to be aggressive on offense, they throw the ball away. So it's a chicken or the egg thing: Is coach telling them to play smart to the point that they are passive - so they overthink it when they're aggressive - or does coach harp on it because he knows what's going to happen when they don't play slow? I don't know, but for the majority of the first three games, everyone not named Joe Harris or Evan Nolte looks lost.

Can we talk about the shot clock violation? With a minute left and down by a couple of scores, UVA had the ball coming out of the timeout. Apparently the play drawn up for this critical possession was called "pass the ball around and try not to wet yourself." Because that's what they did for 35 seconds before giving the ball - and game - away. Seriously. This loss was like the Act 1 beatdown the lovable protagonists receive in every single sports movie ever. Except it was real life so we're not promised an uplifting turnaround. Maybe that's what the team needs - a montage.

The good news: It's early. Akil Mitchell had a good game. Darion Atkins had an alright game. Joe Harris is comfortable being the go-to guy, but he had a poor shooting night.

I'm not going to get into my issues with Tony Bennett basketball yet, because there's too much potential looming ahead of us. No, that diatribe will come later, if the team keeps playing like this. Get well soon, Bub.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff, Pierce. I especially enjoyed the montage.