Something caught my mind when I was reading about Cal State Fullerton, our next opponent tomorrow. The article noted that they were the #1 scoring team in the nation heading into yesterday’s game with Eastern (which they lost). They currently stand at #2. Granted, it’s a small 6-game sample size, but still, in those six games they’ve averaged 88.5 points per game.
Conversely, the Huskies have averaged just a tick under 70 points per game over 6 games. Without question, you’re talking about a different calibre of opponents; the Huskies have had the tougher schedule so far. That having been said, you’re still talking about a very good offensive team vs. a very mediocre offensive team.
The Huskies have zero bench scoring. They practically have zero bench! They’re running on a 7-man rotation and they’ve been doing so since before Suggs went down with injury. They have C.J. Wilcox who, bless his heart, is trying his damnedest to be an all-around scoring threat (and not just a spot-up jump-shooter) and has thus far impressed more than he has disappointed. So far, he’s averaging just a hair under 20 points per game and has been THE guy on offense.
Behind him, you’ve got Abdul Gaddy. He’s averaging around 15 points per game. He hits a few jump shots, he makes a few lay-ins. If he goes on to average 15 points per game throughout the whole season, I would be ecstatic. He’s not exactly someone who’s going to take over a game in the closing moments (no matter how much he tries, he’s always going to fail), but he should be able to effectively pitch-in. On a good team, he would be your 4th or 5th scoring option. On this team, he’s #2.
Behind Gaddy you’ve got … crickets.
Aziz? Maybe against lesser teams, with no big men (like Saint Louis), he can jump up and get a double-double. 10 points, 10 boards. Something in that range. Aziz will almost always have anywhere from 6-16 points just on put-backs and lay-ins. He does run the floor, which is nice. He’s still got brick-hands, but they’re at least marginally better than they were a couple years ago. He’s not someone you can pound it in the post with, though, unless he’s going against a smaller man. Even then, it doesn’t seem too difficult to box Aziz out and keep him away from the basket (see: Colorado State). Besides, you don’t want to try to count on him late in the game, because he’s a fucking mess at the free throw line.
In short, you’ve got one legitimate scoring threat, you’ve got one guy who’s going to be hit-or-miss, and you’ve got a big man who can take up space. This offense is a complete disaster.
Which, actually, might not be the worst thing in the world.
If you think about it, Lorenzo Romar is, at heart, defensive-minded. Up until this year, he’s always had a bunch of flashy athletes who were able to run up and down the court. Playing that kind of game often led to shoot-outs. We’d score a lot, and we’d give up a lot of points.
Well, this isn’t a team that can win a shoot-out. Unless Wilcox is having an out-of-body-type game, we’re going to need to slow things down. This team should be focused on defense, and it should practice nothing but.
If we’re not going to out-score you, then we’re going to take you out of YOUR offense and bring you down to our level. That’s the only way we’re going to compete in the Pac-12 this season. Let’s face it, even if we get Suggs and Kemp back, we’re still nowhere near an elite offensive squad! But, defensively, we could be all right.
Slow it down. Eliminate fast-breaks. Milk the clock. Learn to pass the ball better and take better shots. Get back on defense quickly. Trap. Switch it up frequently from man to zone. Do whatever it takes to take the other team out of their game. Win ugly, but win! It’s the only way we’re ever going to do anything this year.
I’m not ready to write this season off. I love basketball too much to just give up six games in. If we can figure out a way to be the best defensive team in the conference – while we’re the worst offensive team – we might be matchup hell for a lot of these upcoming games.
It has to start now. No offense. All defense. It might not please most fans, it might not pack the crowds in, but it could be effective!