Saturday, December 12, 2009

Calling on Stallings: Some Thoughts Following the WKU Loss

Papa O'Shea was dead-on in something he said in yesterday's thread: this team can't SPELL defense. This was the first game all season where the Hilltoppers scored over 70 points. We let one guy (AJ Slaughter) carve us up for 27. As a team they shot nearly 50% from the floor. And the common theme weaving together the two previous losses held true yet again last night: got abused on the glass, this time by a final margin of 40-31, and more importantly couldn't pull down defensive rebounds on critical possessions where they were allowed to run down a full shot clock and get a second-chance bucket. So pretty much, yeah, this team can't SPELL defense right now.

My concern with all this is defense is simply just a matter of effort, intensity, knowing where to be and wanting to be there to make a play more than the other guy. (I should know -- I am downright horrible at basketball but doggone it I can play me some D.) And partly because it's so much an issue of effort, bad defense is one of those problems that's directly traceable to coaching. But when I look at CKS and the coaching staff it makes me that much more concerned because they clearly are at a loss for what to do about this. Stallings cited lack of effort as the reason for benching Beal and Ogilvy to start the game. Apparently this decision was the "sad" outcome of the coaches having tried "everything else...all the other things that we know" to get AJ and Jermaine playing with the requisite intensity. But even after the curtain had fallen, the only adjectives the general could come up with to describe his troops' response to the alternate lineup were "ok" and "fine." Yikes.

So bottom line is I'm nervous that CKS is at a loss for how to motivate these guys and get them to play with some intensity. He said it himself: no one is afraid of us when they walk in the gym because they know we're a defensive joke. The good news is we've got a lull in the schedule and hopefully that means some time to figure ourselves out and, as Stallings put it, get back to square one. I guess that means something better than giving up an effective 49% field goals (194th nationally) and improving our turnover ratio (21.4% TO/possessions, 158th in NCAA) and rebounding (35.7% ORs/opportunities, 253rd overall rank), but who knows what the metric for success is. Given the defensive performance of most Stallings-coached teams in recent years, I'm not exactly holding my breath for a sea change.

CKS is a good coach and recruiter, but when it comes to getting your guys to play hard, the buck's gotta stop somewhere.


Unknown said...

The irony of it all for me is that trip to Australia which was to ensure this team coming together and CKS being able to push his guys extra hard.

Can't say I have the answer, but you would think that CKS knows this team better than many if not most of the teams he has coached as of late. I'm not willing to abandon hope yet, but this is the most important moment of the season. If CKS gets through to the team and gets them motivated we have a season, if not we won't be competitive in the SEC. Doesn't matter how good of a team you have, if they don't play with intensity in conference play they won't win.

Unknown said...

AJ had one rebound. ONE. At 6'11, I got to be believe that's the result of a lack of effort/intensity/fight/heart/whatever you want to call it.

This team is in desperate need of an Alex 'Red' Gordon type figure. Despite being comically disproportionate (muscles to height)and the shortest guy on the court, Red got in guys' faces when need be and lead that team (yes it was Shan's team, but I'd argue Red was the heart and soul of it). I don't see anyone on this team assuming that role, especially 'Dolla Dolla Beal Yall.' Something's got to give.


Anonymous said...

It's always darkest before the dawn.

Unknown said...

Looks like vandy will be declining the invite to the CBI again this year.

Anonymous said...

The coach is always talking about taylor being this and that and jenkins doing this and walker's greatness maybe some team members are sick of this no one body wins or loses the game that is if you've instilled the team mentality. It is not ogilvy's team.

VandyGold28 said...

well i don't ever truly give up and i'll be at all the games but i'm throwing the towel in for now on the season and expecting nothing any more. i was honestly expecting a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAAs. now it's not getting in w/out some stellar run in the SEC. horrific.

i said anything less than 12-2 would be a disappointment heading into the florida game. NOW, anything less than 11-3 is even more so.....

upsetting that these guys lack effort lately. hustle and defense are two things in a basketball game that anyone can do and should. these guys aren't.

hey coach, can i get a jersey?

R. Funke said...

I'm with "concerned." I would say it's more an issue of effort than defensive know-how. Festus and Darshawn pulled down more rebounds (um... 4.) than anyone not named Jeffery Taylor, and Big Fez added 2 blocks in his 14 minutes of teaching-AJ-a-lesson.

I'm not saying Festus is better than AJ (nor worse), but the top rebounders were the hungriest players last night--Taylor, Ezeli, and... McClellan. Only Taylor had the skill to turn that hunger into productivity, and even he disappeared when the game needed a hero most.

As Concerned said, Alex Gordon was a grown man on that court. Dolla arrived with five minutes left. Boo boo wah wah get it together, Dores.

Colin said...

Wow talk about doom and gloom. This was disapointing but not the end of the world, you all were just overrating the team early on and making to many excuses for them. Welcome to reality this is a young team and it's still going through growing pains, but they will get better. We didn't lose last night for any reason other then that we couldn't matchup with slaughter. Walker was the only guy they thought that had the size to do it I guess but was not quick enough, Beal isn't intense enough on D and the other guards aren't athletic enough, I thought taylor might be the answer but that never materialized.
As for the lineups, we are straight uop better when beal doesn's start. Tinsley got taylor much more involved, and the ball actually moved around early on and we were scoring just nto playing D. For anyone about to give me a Beal stat, pause, recall beals attempt late in the second half to play offense 1 on 4 during transition, and now delete your intended comment, he only came through in garbage time when they weren't bothering to guard his drive. This argument is settled. AJ is another matter all together and I really just don't know. My roomate suggested they try playing him further away form the basket since he does have sweet spin moves and loves to dribble and maybe will just end up at the line more and doesn't have to be tough down low. I will say I didn't hate our athletic lineup when tchiengang was the biggest man out there, and they should try to start teaching him how to play defense down low immediately. Here is to all of you slowly getting high off Beal's stat line while we feast on cupcake teams for a few weeks, only to decide the sky is falling again when SEC play starts.

Anonymous said...

colin is full of himself as usual and is just spitting out garbage