The Maui Invitational: The Chink In The Armor

Boy do I hate losing to that smug prick Calipari.

Look, we’re still a good team.  We’re still likely to win the Pac-10, I believe, and we still have a chance to go far in the Tourney.  That having been said, there’s a fundamental flaw that’s likely to prevent us from being a Final Four team.

Two years ago, we were good.  We had Brockman as our Go-To guy, we had Dentmon who stepped up in a big way behind the arc, but we didn’t really have a ton of depth behind them.  A lot of youth came our way that year.

Last year, we were good.  We had Q-Pon as our Go-To guy, we had a lot of depth behind him who got a lot of good experience the year before, but we didn’t really have a 3-point threat that would consistently stretch the defense.

This year, we are good.  We have depth coming out of our asses, we have 3-point shooters until the cows come home, but in those tough games against superior opponents, who do we have as our Go-To guy?  That guy, late in games when you’re down by 6, who can muscle it into the paint, whirl around and bank off an off-balance shot over two guys.  That guy who you lean on when the 3-point shot isn’t available or isn’t falling.  That guy who will make up for a rebounding disadvantage, who will make up for a personal foul disparity, who will carry the team on his back and will them to victory.

You could say it was still a lack of size that cost us that ballgame (Kentucky out-rebounded us 45-32), but I say we had just as many chances to get those boards, we were just out of position too often.  No, we lost that game last night because when push came to shove, we didn’t have a guy who could get us those gritty baskets late in the game.

I mean, God bless him, but counting on Isaiah Thomas to be that guy isn’t really fair to anyone.  He’s constantly dealing with people who are taller than him, and I know the kid’s talented, but to expect him to drive the paint and bank these crazy runners is futile.  Same with Overton.  I know he tries his best, but sometimes you just need a forward who will take care of business like Q-Pon did in that Marquette game last year.

The only guy who comes close is MBA, but I still don’t trust him enough in the paint.  Yeah he’s big and strong, but his moves are awkward and I feel like he’s either going to miss wildly or have his shit blocked every time he turns into the lane.  He has too many games like last night where he goes 3 for 11 with 7 points.

Someone tell me this:  who, aside from Overton and IT, will get to the foul line consistently?  Gant, Holiday, Suggs, Wilcox, and Ross all play around the perimeter, facing the basket.  These are your forwards, ladies & germs.  These are all your swingmen.  Yeah, they can shoot the 3’s, but what happens when we play good perimeter defending teams like Kentucky?  Then, essentially these players are worthless.  The only reason Gant had a good game last night (10 points, 2 for 2 behind the arc) is because they left him wide open for the entire first half; he never took a shot closer than 20 feet.

Since we don’t have a Q-Pon or a Brockman on our team, and since all of our playmakers double as members of the Lollipop Guild, we’re going to have to actually run some plays out of our half-court offense.  Lots of picks to get our shooters open.  Being able to find the open man off the dribble.  We can’t count on the shortest guys on the team carrying us all year or we’re going to be bounced early and often in the Tourney.

All that having been said, I thought our defense last night was staggering.  Kentucky went on an 18-0 run early in the first half and we still went into halftime with a lead.  That’s something.  Good defense will always keep you in ballgames, even against the best teams.  We’ll see this afternoon if someone’s able to step up against Michigan State and make all that awesome defense worth our while.

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  1. Pingback: The Maui Invitational: The Final 3 Minutes of a 4th Place Team | Seattle Sports Hell

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