Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bullet Points: Hype and anti-Hype

I was at the Charleston Classic last week [editor's note: also see Alan's Hoya Hoop Club report here], and while I sometimes tend to watch a little less closely live than on television (what with the replays at home and the frothy beverages on the road), there's something different about seeing a game live. You notice some things you don't see as easily on television, and conversely, it distorts some things you see more clearly on television.

If you have good seats, that is. If you're up in 400, you really don't see anything. Especially with my deteriorating eyesight.

But luckily, Carolina First Arena is small (5,100 capacity and about a five row "upper" deck) and the worst seats we had were about ten rows from the court.

Thoughts, mine and others:

  • The defensive intensity is there. I don't know how our defense will handle teams with a stronger inside game or exceptional offensive rebounding, but there seems to be the necessary level of intensity there to make this as good a defense as it can be. Chris Wright, in particular, is really setting a tone of flying around out there. There were relatively few defensive breakdowns as well.
  • It might be because the players are playing less minutes. I've never really taken to the argument that the team wore down because of fatigue over the course of the season last year. It's a logically odd argument, and the facts don't really back it up. But Hoyatalk poster HoyaChris mentioned at the Classic that he though in game fatigue really hurt the level of defensive intensity last year, and that's completely logical. Perhaps Chris Wright's and the other players' intensity level is coming from their ability to rest mid-game as opposed to playing 38 minutes.
  • The young guys seem to be bringing a higher level of intensity. Our upperclassmen are very workmanlike, and there's no issue with that. But it logically seems like you'd want a mix of personalities, and the younger players seem to be bringing a higher level of intensity. A much more confident Hollis Thompson was all over the place during the tourney. Nate Lubick is a constant bundle of energy as well. Markel and Vee are very active, and Henry, when he's confident, is constantly moving.
  • Jason Clark or Hollis Thompson will be the best player on next year's team, but Markel will be the leader. We're five games into the season and Markel Starks is already into his next career as assistant coach. He's constantly pointing things out and directing, even from the bench. He seems to have assumed a leadership role already (but not an ego-driven one -- see my Hoop Club Blog for a little Markel tidbit). That's a fantastic thing to see in your point guard.
  • Hollis is making the leap. Hollis has added several new elements to his game that weren't evident last year. He had several good drive and scores, as well as showed off a mid-range jumper at least once. Perhaps most importantly in the short term, he's gotten strong enough that his energy on the boards is actually manifesting itself in rebounds. The effort was there last year; the result wasn't.
  • Jason Clark has developed a nice little mid-range game. I'm not sure it's a great development simply because this team has done well avoiding those low-efficiency mid-range shots as a whole. But with little low post game, it's nice to have an option to backdoor cuts and threes.
  • Julian is shotblocking and offensive rebounding, but he isn't shooting well, isn't defensive rebounding well and turns the ball over. This is an issue for me. As we face taller teams, none of this is going to get easier. Right now, his ORating is below 100 (even with the offensive boards). He's really our only low post option, so it hurts the team when he isn't effective (whether b/c of shooting or turnovers) and his lack of defensive rebounding makes it tough to make a case for him as a defense-only player. And that's fundamentally an issue because...
  • As good as Henry Sims and Nate Lubick have looked at times... I'm not ready to count on them just quite yet. Nate had a good game versus ODU and has looked a bit more "freshman" since. Henry has now had two good games in a row, but it's about 30 total minutes. I'm hopeful, because I've always seen a ton of potential in him. And if he continues to play like this it takes the pressure off of Vaughn. But I'm not sure either of the Hoyas are as good as they've looked.
  • Why isn't the offense better? The team is shooting very well right now. Four starters have an ORating of 113 or better, with Austin at 140. So why is the team ORating only about 110? It's turnovers. Everyone with a TO Rate of under 23 (Wright is the highest at 22.2) has an ORating over 113. That's FIVE players (those starters plus Vee). Vaughn is at 23 (and a 92 ORating - ugh) and everyone else is above 26% turnovers! Only Henry manages to get about 100 in ORating despite an awful turnover rate. Everyone else is abysmal. Turnovers will kill this team if they don't take better care of the ball.

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