This post will not be an exploration of microfinance for a Sikh convenience store franchise.
(Alternate thread title: It Goes To 11)
Rather, I want to talk hoops and how we need to structure our minutes and rotations such that we maximize down the stretch and set our aspirations higher than a 4 seed and a bow out in the Sweet 16. The Oklahoma State game told us a lot and it's time to act.
Depth, like high school dating, is frustrating without clearly defined roles, a predictable rotation, and an overarching plan. Indiscriminate depth also thwarts the individual development of your youngest players as it robs them of repetitions and familiarity with their likely personnel groups. Look at how Calipari has shortened Kentucky's bench - and they have better depth than we do.
And there's a mental impact: a player without a clear role is a day laborer showing up to the Wal-Mart parking lot unsure if he's going to lay concrete for the next six days or walk home again empty-handed, hungry, and frustrated. The salient point being: Mexicans are terrible at basketball.
When Chuck Daly coached the Pistons he was the master of getting production out of a deep bench and John Gotti's Fall collection and he did it with specialization and a clear communication of very specific roles. He knew that defining your core 7 was the key - the other guys are situational satellites. They orbit around the real players and know their role.
We have 7 key players:
We have another four guys who can be of (limited) use to us. Getting us to an extended rotation of eleven. Seven core guys complemented by 4 role players whose job is to specialize, provide a blow, and keep their ambitions in check. None of numbers 8-11 merit major minutes in a game unless we see an injury, Tim Donaghy is calling fouls, or Barnes has bet the under. But they should see the floor in every game. That's key. That's how roles are established.
I omitted Matt Hill because he drives me insane, we can't reward non-finishers, and I value quickness and tempo in relief of Pittman.
There are 200 minutes to be doled out in a college basketball game - 80 big man, 120 small man. I'll deconstruct them like Womynist literature and then talk rotations.
Big minutes - PF/C - 80 minutes:
Damion James - 30
Gary Johnson - 22
Dexter Pittman -20
Clint Chapman - 5
Lexi Wangmene - 3
There is a Dexter Pittman that we create in our minds and the real Dexter Pittman. The real Dexter Pittman was voted in an informal poll by his Big 12 peers as one of the nicest players in the league, was suckered and abused by his "friend" Bryan Davis against A&M with a classic Bill Russell on Wilt Chamberlain style mindfuck, and ran to the bench crying when Moses from OSU played tough guy with him in the lane. He might give us 18 and 9 and 4 blocks; he might give us 4 and 3 and several pained close-ups of nice-guy-who-is-frustrated martyrous body language. Bobby Knight said it best: Pittman is a guy that things happens to. Very victimy. He's also a fabulously bad rebounder who is quite content to make Damion James do the dirty work. He has obvious value when he's in the proper mental state, but it's time to start exploring more use of the Hamilton/James/Johnson frontline instead of automatically subbing a flailing "big" for Pittman.
The 3 forward personnel grouping gets Gary J at least a guaranteed 12 minutes per game in addition to the guaranteed 10 he already gets in relief of Damion James at PF. Although exploitable inside with size, the three forward grouping will pressure passing lanes, can run, and will absolutely destroy traditonal bigs in half-court sets with three 6-7 guys who can sink jump shots or attack off of the dribble. I'll bet that 9 times of 10 the other team has to adjust to us rather than we to them. Also good offensive rebounding - not to mention zone busting capabilities.
Damion is fantastic. Play him his 30 and let him be.
I just need eight minutes and four fouls combined from Lexi and Clint. Clint can have up to 10 minutes if he can finish at the rim and opposing bigs aren't backing him down. Lexi is brought in to muscle, spare a dumb end-of-half foul from Pittman or Damion and punch Bryan Davis in the dick.
Small minutes - PG/SG/SF - 120 minutes:
Dogus Balbay - 25
J'Covan Brown - 27
Avery Bradley - 28
Jordan Hamilton - 27
Justin Mason - 10
Jai Lucas - 3
Three key points here:
1. There aren't three key points. We need only need two: Balbay & Brown. Bye bye Jai.
2. Jordan Hamilton needs to play heavy minutes and we need to deal with it - even when we want to choke the shit out of him.
3. Justin Mason can only be paired with J'Covan at point. No FreeMasonry. He can also play in a three guard set at SF to spell Hamilton when we go uptempo pressure, but only with three shooters on the court.
Dogus is our creator, our best on-ball defender, and a guy who thrives with tempo. Keep him paired with shooters and play at pace and he's not a liability at all. He and Mason together should be viewed as crossing the beams in Ghostbusters.
Like GJ for our bigs, J'Covan is really the lynchpin of this entire scheme for our smalls. We need 13 minutes a game from him at PG and an equal number at SG (or third guard when the other team goes small). He's a combo guard and that's how we need to treat him. Like Hamilton, J'Covan will benefit from clarity in function.
Avery just needs to be himself and play his minutes at SG.
Jordan Hamilton needs to be handed the 3 position and a starting role, live or die. Unless you prefer to start games with J'Covan in a three guard set, which I'm cool with. The minutes are still the same. I'm also of the strong opinion that we should minimize overlap between Hamilton and Pittman on the floor at the same time (only 7-10 of his minutes) as he thrives with a clean lane and a faster pace.
I don't like Lucas at all and I've been consistent in that since learning of his transfer from Florida. His problem is that he thinks he's actually a good player and not Kris McColpin. He has been lied to his entire career and minutes only fuel his delusion. A bad player that knows he's bad protects the ball by dribbling with his ass to the basket instead of facing up like he's Tim Hardaway. He's also a defensive liability far worse than Abrams ever was because he's so physically weak and - I would contend - weak-minded. Some guys want to get screened. It's an out. He has a role as a zone buster and should see the court as such or an offensive situation substitution at game end.
Mason has deteriorated as a player from his freshman and sophomore years and the myth that he is still a great defender is alive only on Longhorn BBS boards and some weird recess of Rick's mind. Mason does offer you hard play and a big motor though and his 10 minutes are needed to keep Hamilton/Bradley fresh and to throw an enthusiastic body at the other team. Barnes should probably explain to him that he's not supposed to take game winning shots.
The beauty of the 7-11 is that no player in our key 7 is going to play more than 30 minutes yet they will log 88% of our minutes in total, you essentially create seven starters, roles are very clearly defined for J'Covan and Jordan (who are the ones that most need it) and we can throw completely different looks at a team by simply changing out Balbay and/or Pittman while our core personnel remain whole.
Essentially we're creating two 6th men: J'Covan and Gary. One frontcourt. One backcourt.
We get what we can out of Pittman on any given night, but shift mindsets such that we're no longer building the team around him falsely.
Creates an easily manageable two-headed point with clear substitution rules.
Free throw shooting improves.
Defined roles for all.
Let's hear your thoughts...