Posted on: April 5, 2009 11:28 am
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Connecticut Huskies get Punched Back

 The look on the Huskies' faces midway through the second half was a look of shock.  For a team that had been so used to just beating up their opponent on the block, they had finally met an opponent that meet them punch for punch down low.  The frustration was loud and clear and Connecticut had no way to respond. 

That's what championship teams are supposed to do.  Respond.  When the opposing team is taking away something, you should be able to be versatile enough to adapt to the situation.  The Huskies had no answer.  Sure I put a lot of this on head coach Jim Calhoun.  He was simply out-coached.  He was simply out-benched.  Nate Miles may have hurt this program in more ways than the obvious one.  

What left me scratching my head was the deliberate attempt by Connecticut to keep pounding the ball in the paint.  There was a lack of movement in the offense.   Ball movement side to side seemed non-existent.  No attempt to try to open up the perimeter to loosen the tightness in the paint.  Craig Austrie getting only 4 attempts in 37 minutes?   Who was the more experienced team?

Points of the Game.

ASSISTS:   MSU 18/31  58%    UCONN  8/25 32% (started out 3/4)

TURNOVERS: MSU: 11    UCONN: 16

STEALS:  MSU: 11    UCONN: 5

GUARD PLAY:  MSU(Lucus/Walton) 13 assists/3 Turnovers      UCONN(Price/Walker) 3 assists/6 Turnovers

AJ PRICE:  5/20 shooting and only 3 three-point attempts for a kid averaging 40% and 6 attempts per game.

Bottom Line: Was is complacency?  Did the weak Big East schedule after the Dyson injury really hurt this team?  Whatever it was, I have seen those faces before.  It was just last week in the Louisville game verses the very same Spartans team. 

 

 

Posted on: March 29, 2009 1:55 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2009 6:05 pm
 

Villanova: NO chance to win the Championship

 Ok, I'm not really going out on a limb here.  Villanova most likely will be the least favored of the 4 contenders in the final four.  It has been an amazing ride for the Nova fans and myself, as I have adopted this team earlier in the year.   But a little trend I have found which involves beating the Pittsburgh Panthers in the tourney during their recent 8 year run.

  • No team has won the national champion after beating Pitt
  • No team has won more than 1 game after taking out the Panthers
  • 3-7 = the combined records of teams beating Pitt

Take it for what it is worth. and GO WILDCATS. 

 

Posted on: March 29, 2009 12:30 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2009 1:58 pm
 

Pitt Panthers STILL lacking the Big Win

 It has been an incredible run under the Howeland/Dixon staffs that has led this program to 8 straight tourney appearance since 2002.   During these 8 years, they have reached 5 sweet 16's which is an accomplishment in itself.  They have done great in avoiding the big upset throughout the years.  But the one stat that stands out, is Pitt's performance verse teams seeded close to them. 

Here is a breakdown of the wins and losses for the Panthers in comparison to the actual difference in the seeding.

+15 1-0  W1-16 

+13 1-0  W2-15

+11 3-0  W3-14, W3-14, W3-14

+8 1-1 W3-11, L5-13

+7 2-1 W5-12, W1-8, L3-10

+5 1-0 W2-7

+3 3-0 W3-6, W3-6, W1-4

-----------------------------------
------

+2 0-1 L1-3

+1 0-2 L2-3, L4-5

-1 0-3 L3-2, L3-2, L9-8

Pitt's record when seeding difference is 3 or greater: 12-2.

Pitts's record when seeding difference is less than 3: 0-6 (3 games Pitt was the lesser ranked)

I really doubt there is any meaning to this, but it sure is an interesting stat to say the least.   It was nice to see Pitt make it finally past the sweet 16 this year.  But unfortunately, they will carry a negative tourney label with them for atleast one more year.  

 

 

 

Posted on: March 23, 2009 5:52 pm
 

B.J. Mullens, a Personal Evaluation

 B.J. Mullens is NOT ready for the NBA.

Thad Matta and Big Men
I see nothing that concerns me.  Matta's offense didn't have a hard time getting Dials the ball.  All three of these guys were true frosh.  Oden was raw offensively to being with.  Didn't help he was playing with one hand.  KK was not a true post player.  But he was still allowed to improve his game outside the post.  For what KK was, he carried us through the NIT last year.  As far as Mullens and Matta's offense not being good for BJ? Matta's offense is catered to it's big man.  You can't have a really great perimeter game without an inside presence.  And all those spread sets limit how much an opposing team can really double the post. 

Now, What's wrong with BJ's game
1. He is a freshman
- He like many freshman, lacks maturity
- He lacks physical maturity.  Lebron, Howard, Kemp, etc. were men physically.

2. Hands.  It really baffled me that the commentators later in the season commented on his "great" hands.  BJ seems totally capable in going up and catching the alley-oop.  But that is a poor example of gauging someones hands. 
-BJ is poor with the horizontal grap.
-BJ is poor with grabing balls at his waist and under.  Sure at 7'0 these can be difficult.  But when talkin about being elite, Mullens does have a fluid "bend" at this point. 
-Most importantly, BJ is thinking/going into his offensive move, before he catches the ball. 

3. Rebounding.  Defensively he lapses in thinking he doesn't have to find a body.  Quite too often when he has a body, he doesn't have the "bend" to seal off and is pushed to far under the basket.  Offensively, he lacks awareness.  Sure, Thad has really promoted getting back on defense quick to set up the zone, but too many times I see Mullens just watching.  He shows not moves to get off his block out and many times lets himself get blocked out by guys 6' tall. 

4. Confidence.  All the moves, everyone is talking about, are there.  They are fluid but at the same time are slow.  A defender may fooled orginally, but often recovers enough to make it a tough shot.  As Mullens missed so many of the moves earlier in the year, he became reluctant to even try later in the year. 

5. Leg Strength.
This affects almost everything he does.  From his jumb shot to him dunking over people.  But most of all it affects him being able to post.  He lacks the ability to create deep position and at times when he does, he is unable to hold it or seal properly.  All I can say is weight room, weight room, weight room.

6. Footwork. 
Desire vs lack of court awarness.
He "appears" lazy and uninterested at times.
While that is easy to label, I really think the case is that BJ is thinking rather than reacting too much on the floor. 
Part of this has to do with confidence and frustration.  Part is due to leg strength in general.  Part is because he just isn't that quick.  Part of this is CONDITIONING.

Team Play
7. Lack of a true elite point guard.
8. Perimeter passes aren't crisp or quick enough to open the lanes for entry into the post.  Ball movement consistanly needs to be quicker, stronger, and faster.
9. We have no elite passers who can thread the post to compensate for the poor positioning of Mullens. 
10. Too Many passes, especially of the penitration of Turner, are below his waist.  Part of this is Mullens spacing and awareness on the dribble drive.  Again, Mullens doesn't generally do a good job of sealing off his defender properly making the pass much more difficult. 
11. Zone Defense.
Mullens spends too much time defending the perimeter corner. 
(A) It limits is presence on the boards
(B) It wears him down even further.   He is force to cover more ground than a traditional big man. 

While I seem overly harsh, many of these things can be fixed.  The most important thing that BJ needs to do during the off-season is to get himself into shape.  His total dedication to his body will make or break his basketball career.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com