...or a team of incomplete players, struggling in an undefined rotation, in an ill-defined system.
That was awful. Even the first half, where we were ostensibly in control, we didn't look great. And we haven't looked great a lot of this year. We've beaten a lot of teams into submission in wars of attrition. These wins, possibly having been Pyrrhic in nature, didn't force us to get better in places where we needed to.
Let's get the niceties out of the way. We love Rick Barnes. He's tough. Great recruiter. Loves his players. Knows more about hoops than I do by a factor of 1,000,000...
Also, Trips will be writing a new column called If I Were Rick... where we give him practice time allocation and the grease board. Fix it, Trips.
But here are a few quick quick takes on some things I see:
Athleticism. In the game thread comments about UConn being as athletic as we are miss the point completely. They are far more athletic. They don't recruit guys who miss lots of layups. Over and over again. Their cats throw that shit down.
Point Guard: Simply, Rick HAS to have an elite PG like Greg Davis has to have an Elite RB. Rick's dog's breakfast offense just doesn't work sans a floor boss.
Rotation / Offense: Pick one and design one. Platoons? Get guys used to playing together. We have too many guys running around. No cohesiveness. No innate prediction of other guys' intentions.
Varez Ward: We're just not getting enough out of this guy!!! He showed so much moxie last year in that Duke game. Love to have him right now.
Damion James: I love this kid. A lot of guys are bemoaning his lack of leadership during the big run UConn had. The problem is he's a garbage man. Floor leadership typically comes in the form of play, often from 1s, 2s and 3s. He's a 4. If you can't handle and can't get your own shot, it's tough to lead your team back from the brink. He tried to make a play at one point and predictably dribbled the ball through traffic and off his own chest out of bounds. He relies on guys getting him the ball in the right spot and picking up garbage. We have trouble there (see PG comments above). He can be a locker room leader but in the game, it's much tougher.
Dogus Balbay:Tremendous athlete. Can't throw it in the lake. Still, I like him in the game at the point more than anybody else. He's got to be smarter than to scream Allahu Akbar and then pick up three fouls in 90 seconds. He's too valuable.
Jai Lucas: I was worried when I read SLX's takes on the kid months ago. He can contribute in some games but some match-ups are just awful for him. His lack of elite athleticism was in stark contrast today. He can't guard a lot of guys and he's not quick enough to punish people on O. If you are running O through Pittman, then he can play. He can hit a kick out or ball reversal jumper. But you almost have to hide him in a zone.
Alexis Wangmene: Can't catch a cold. Not a threat on O. If raw prospects like Wangmene, Chapman and Hill are the analog, let's start recruiting some more polished guys. I feel like he should be better by now.
Dexter Pittman: Lack of awareness just kills him. He gets a bunch of horseshit calls but he has to be aware of his foul situation. And he needs to quit acting like you think he's Chris Owens.
Justin Mason: Was my favorite player three years ago. Just can't get it done anymore. Don't know why and it's heartbreaking but his minuses tip the scale over his plusses.
Jordan Hamilton: Moments of mental laziness that are a shame. Clearly he's got a chance to be a great player but needs a more firm grasp of context. Glides and loafs at times.
Avery Bradley: He's the horse. But he's got to grow into the leadership role. He's just not confident enough yet to take charge.