Quick thoughts -- Tennessee | Syracusefan.com

Quick thoughts -- Tennessee

billsin01

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Didn't watch live so I'm not as fired up as a bunch of the stuff on here. I get that we're desperate to 'be back' but I'm not sure this group -- even if we put together a good season -- is going to quite make us feel 'back.' Could be wrong, but my point isn't really to criticize, simply to point out that we have more talent but still have a few holes and I see this group as a step closer to being a factor again, but unless a few guys really step up, it's another season with some ups and downs and hopefully a solid shot to get in off the bubble.

Anyway, a condensed version of my thoughts focused mostly on bigger themes instead of individuals:

The last 6-7 minutes or so of the first half killed us
We had a Bell/JJ/Taylor/McLeod/Benny group out there against a pressure defense that was clamping down. Not sure we got a quality look for the last 6-7 minutes. I know we were without an FG for a stretch spanning into the second half, but the worst part was I'm not sure we got good looks. To hear the sideline reporter say Red thought we got good looks but didn't make them was ... strange. Anyway, that lineup shouldn't be on the floor ... ever. Give me the wild rollercoaster of Copeland mixed in there or irrational confidence of Cuffe, at least if you're not going to try to steal a couple Judah minutes in there somewhere. The lineup we had on the floor was OK defensively (not great, but OK) but brutal offensively. Didn't work tonight and probably won't work much this season. Think we went from up like 3 to down 7. That hurt.

McLeod has to stay around the basket
Not sure I've ever seen a college hoops player (and I watched Billy Celuck) get beat off the dribble as badly as McLeod does. He gets caught in no-man's land on pick-and-rolls constantly, he doesn't get out on the mid-range jumper. It's brutal. That said, he's tough around the rim with his length. If he plays, we need to find some way to keep him near the hoop. Does that mean 2-3 zone? not sure, that didn't look great. Does it mean a different kind of funkier zone (1-3-1)? Maybe. How about some wrinkles in our m2m? Not sure, but when he was out there and we were in man, any time Tennessee needed a hoop they got him in a pick-and-roll.

This defense has to figure out secondary slides and help in general
Good god are we bad at help defense. Benny got beat on the wing by Knecht and he drove straight in for a layup and Benny had to foul. That's Tennessee's best player beating an OK, not great defender (Benny was too upright to have a chance to stay with him off the dribble) and not a soul around to help. Tennessee torched us with the pick-and-roll because when the ball went back to the screener, no one else slid to help -- that goes for zone and man. The Benny play is an issue with help defense; the pick-and-roll is a question of where that secondary slide comes in. We desperately need to figure this out.

Rebounding ... I mean, we probably just won't be good at it
Not much to say here but two thoughts -- defensively, we need to focus on it. There was a play very early where judah got switched onto a big who went to the post. A shot went up, it was a miss and Judah watched the guy get a rebound and lay it in. Bad look. Have to at least try and box out. The other thing is offensively -- Teams that rebound well offensively move and get the defense moving. We don't do this. We should start doing it.

Movement and spacing on offense
We almost never screen off-ball and when we do, we set half-hearted screens. This reduces our offense to a lot of 4-out drive, with the idea being to set up some buckets in the paint off drives and a few kick-outs to open shooters. But our spacing is weird and we run into our own guys (and their defenders, more to the point), which also sometimes leads to awkward too-close passes. Schematically this has been a bit disappointing on both sides of the ball so far.

Overall, people hate moral victories, but let's call this what it is. Nice for us to be able to hang on the floor with a better team. Judah stays out of foul trouble and we make a few more free throws who knows. But regardless had a few moments and that's not a terrible thing.
 
His razzle dazzle doesn’t play against these teams. Until he realizes success lies in efficiency of movement and effort , his talents will go wasted

Can’t think of a single thing Copeland did right in this game. That was demoralizing to watch.
This is weird formatting but agree with both of you ... and at the same time I think they've got to find a way to work him in a bit more. Taylor is more consistent and he's not hurting you with turnovers and bad shots. Bell, honestly, had a really nice offensive game in the second half and he's working much harder on defense ... but he remains a subpar defender at best and an absolutely brutal rebounder. Benny had some nice offensive plays so maybe we hold out some hope there, but he struggles on defense and his offense comes and goes.

The thing with Copeland is that he rebounds and hounds people defensively. He can also beat someone off the dribble from time to time (something the other three struggle with, though Bell has started to do some nice things here). I think Cuffe kind of falls in the same category -- not sure he'll finish well around the basket and not sure he's as good a shooter as he thinks he is ... but he defends well and works hard and is the only player on this team who moves/cuts off the ball.

I don't know what the optimal lineup. Maybe we're just in a weird spot where Taylor is steadier and Bell is more explosive offensively. But when Taylor is on the floor with McLeod it feels like we are down two scorers and any time Bell is on the floor we know we only have four rebounders and we may have a guy a good team is going to target defensively. Copeland and Cuffe, on the other hand, bring lots of negatives -- turnovers, strange decisions shooting the ball, etc. -- but are probably better fits for what Red wants to do defensively and Copeland is at worst our second-best rebounder. Maybe our best rebounder and we are getting killed on the glass.
 
You could play him more and just take the hits until he figures it out. He’ll develop a lot faster that way. You’re not winning these games either way. Not against Purdue / zags /
 
His razzle dazzle doesn’t play against these teams. Until he realizes success lies in efficiency of movement and effort , his talents will go wasted

Seems like one of these junkyard dog guys we need against lesser opponents but that doesn't fly against a group of grown men from the SEC.

Really excited to see Chance.
 
I actually was more encouraged by this loss than by the 3 wins, but that’s coming from a place of low expectations.

If you thought that we were “back” because “Red won the transfer portal,” as I saw one poster put it, then yeah, you’re probably getting a bit of a reality check.

If instead you saw that what Red had assembled was sort of a Land of Misfit Toys, which happens to be my view, then it was encouraging to at least look like we belonged on the same floor with a veteran Vols team for most of this game.

We’ve traded recent teams that had shooters and somewhat polished offensive games - but subpar athleticism - for a team of plus athletes who are extremely raw, still developing skills and don’t shoot very well.

We’ve also acquired something unknown in these parts: depth.

I think I’d rather roll with the new option and see what Red can do to make it more cohesive.

But that’s coming from the view that this is a multi-year rebuild, which I suspect it is.
 
This is our team. I think they need the 8-10 games to grow. Like seeing some growth from Bell. I think our guys off the bench have to give us help in not turning the ball over. Copeland needs to control himself when on offence. He is a solid rebounder and that is his strength. Benny gave us a spark off the bench, I think our starting guards have been poor in their overall performance. They are not getting others involved in the play when the game dictates this. Judah is playing hero ball at times and needs to rely on his teammates against good teams. He can dominate mid majors but not the Top 25 teams.
 
I'd love to see Judah pass to Justin when he's open, usually at the beginning of a possession or on a break. Also I'd like to see Justin attempt to shoot instead of pass when a defender is near him. Justin needs to use some fakes to get the defender to move or jump and if he gets fouled that's even better.
 
Didn't watch live so I'm not as fired up as a bunch of the stuff on here. I get that we're desperate to 'be back' but I'm not sure this group -- even if we put together a good season -- is going to quite make us feel 'back.' Could be wrong, but my point isn't really to criticize, simply to point out that we have more talent but still have a few holes and I see this group as a step closer to being a factor again, but unless a few guys really step up, it's another season with some ups and downs and hopefully a solid shot to get in off the bubble.

Anyway, a condensed version of my thoughts focused mostly on bigger themes instead of individuals:

The last 6-7 minutes or so of the first half killed us
We had a Bell/JJ/Taylor/McLeod/Benny group out there against a pressure defense that was clamping down. Not sure we got a quality look for the last 6-7 minutes. I know we were without an FG for a stretch spanning into the second half, but the worst part was I'm not sure we got good looks. To hear the sideline reporter say Red thought we got good looks but didn't make them was ... strange. Anyway, that lineup shouldn't be on the floor ... ever. Give me the wild rollercoaster of Copeland mixed in there or irrational confidence of Cuffe, at least if you're not going to try to steal a couple Judah minutes in there somewhere. The lineup we had on the floor was OK defensively (not great, but OK) but brutal offensively. Didn't work tonight and probably won't work much this season. Think we went from up like 3 to down 7. That hurt.

McLeod has to stay around the basket
Not sure I've ever seen a college hoops player (and I watched Billy Celuck) get beat off the dribble as badly as McLeod does. He gets caught in no-man's land on pick-and-rolls constantly, he doesn't get out on the mid-range jumper. It's brutal. That said, he's tough around the rim with his length. If he plays, we need to find some way to keep him near the hoop. Does that mean 2-3 zone? not sure, that didn't look great. Does it mean a different kind of funkier zone (1-3-1)? Maybe. How about some wrinkles in our m2m? Not sure, but when he was out there and we were in man, any time Tennessee needed a hoop they got him in a pick-and-roll.

This defense has to figure out secondary slides and help in general
Good god are we bad at help defense. Benny got beat on the wing by Knecht and he drove straight in for a layup and Benny had to foul. That's Tennessee's best player beating an OK, not great defender (Benny was too upright to have a chance to stay with him off the dribble) and not a soul around to help. Tennessee torched us with the pick-and-roll because when the ball went back to the screener, no one else slid to help -- that goes for zone and man. The Benny play is an issue with help defense; the pick-and-roll is a question of where that secondary slide comes in. We desperately need to figure this out.

Rebounding ... I mean, we probably just won't be good at it
Not much to say here but two thoughts -- defensively, we need to focus on it. There was a play very early where judah got switched onto a big who went to the post. A shot went up, it was a miss and Judah watched the guy get a rebound and lay it in. Bad look. Have to at least try and box out. The other thing is offensively -- Teams that rebound well offensively move and get the defense moving. We don't do this. We should start doing it.

Movement and spacing on offense
We almost never screen off-ball and when we do, we set half-hearted screens. This reduces our offense to a lot of 4-out drive, with the idea being to set up some buckets in the paint off drives and a few kick-outs to open shooters. But our spacing is weird and we run into our own guys (and their defenders, more to the point), which also sometimes leads to awkward too-close passes. Schematically this has been a bit disappointing on both sides of the ball so far.

Overall, people hate moral victories, but let's call this what it is. Nice for us to be able to hang on the floor with a better team. Judah stays out of foul trouble and we make a few more free throws who knows. But regardless had a few moments and that's not a terrible thing.
I agree with your points, Bill, especially with regards to defense, movement on offense, and rebounding (particularly our offensive rebounding, which was non-existent). Gonzaga is a traditionally fundamentally sound team, so maybe some of their positive influence will rub off on us.
 
Good post. "This defense has to figure out secondary slides and help in general" this along with the lack of boxing out just jumps out at me.

I still see a lot of "coaches/players" that will need time to work things out and learn to play with each other. The learning part will be frustrating but it's silly to believe these kids are going to be perfect like some posters seem to think or expect it to be after a hand full of games.

Copeland is a player, he's a baller... but he's not a shooter, and he's forcing things trying to show/ differentiate himself from the other guards, I believe his court vision is the best of the guards BUT he has to learn that what coaches want to see is better decision making and focusing on "being efficient" when he does have the ball in his hands. That along with his D, rebounding will keep him getting minutes. We would be stupid to count him out and coach knows that I believe.
 
I actually was more encouraged by this loss than by the 3 wins, but that’s coming from a place of low expectations.

If you thought that we were “back” because “Red won the transfer portal,” as I saw one poster put it, then yeah, you’re probably getting a bit of a reality check.

If instead you saw that what Red had assembled was sort of a Land of Misfit Toys, which happens to be my view, then it was encouraging to at least look like we belonged on the same floor with a veteran Vols team for most of this game.

We’ve traded recent teams that had shooters and somewhat polished offensive games - but subpar athleticism - for a team of plus athletes who are extremely raw, still developing skills and don’t shoot very well.

We’ve also acquired something unknown in these parts: depth.

I think I’d rather roll with the new option and see what Red can do to make it more cohesive.

But that’s coming from the view that this is a multi-year rebuild, which I suspect it is.
I tend to go along with your line of thinking that Red has assembled the Land of Misfit Toys but I think of it as the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (good book made into a movie back in the 1970s). Initially I was hoping for a quick fix but OP did a good job of outlining the misfits we are dealing with and the difficulty of getting the right mix on the floor at any one time. What is holding us back is the sum of the individual strengths do not equal a team. Hopefully the coaching staff can see where we must make changes and can get the players to buy in. So far the individual play results in our struggling and will never position us to be a consistent winner.
 
Good post. "This defense has to figure out secondary slides and help in general" this along with the lack of boxing out just jumps out at me.

I still see a lot of "coaches/players" that will need time to work things out and learn to play with each other. The learning part will be frustrating but it's silly to believe these kids are going to be perfect like some posters seem to think or expect it to be after a hand full of games.

Copeland is a player, he's a baller... but he's not a shooter, and he's forcing things trying to show/ differentiate himself from the other guards, I believe his court vision is the best of the guards BUT he has to learn that what coaches want to see is better decision making and focusing on "being efficient" when he does have the ball in his hands. That along with his D, rebounding will keep him getting minutes. We would be stupid to count him out and coach knows that I believe.
Agreed, biggest problem with the help defense is almost every guy on our team is getting blown by and there needs to be help every play which is just opening everything for our opponents.
 
I would like to see Justin Taylor get some time at the 2 with Judah in the backcourt. JJ and Q together is a recipe for disaster.
Not sure that helps him on D. However, with the makeup of the team and playing position-less, there's nothing stopping him from playing offensively like a traditional 2 during the game. He just has to adjust that thought process and play "his" game offensively. Very impressed with his D and rebounding of late which I didn't see early on, which is the actual growth and development a lot of us posters are talking about for players and the team and it's happening with him right now (thru 5 games). If he adds "His" offense to what he's been doing of late, he will be a true problem for teams as the season goes on.

There is a void of leadership right now because of the youth, and I do not see anyone better positioned to assume that role on this team.
 
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This is our team. I think they need the 8-10 games to grow. Like seeing some growth from Bell. I think our guys off the bench have to give us help in not turning the ball over. Copeland needs to control himself when on offence. He is a solid rebounder and that is his strength. Benny gave us a spark off the bench, I think our starting guards have been poor in their overall performance. They are not getting others involved in the play when the game dictates this. Judah is playing hero ball at times and needs to rely on his teammates against good teams. He can dominate mid majors but not the Top 25 teams.
We should focus on 10 game intervals to evaluate players/team. After 8-10 games, we should be seeing that growth/development happening, 10-20 games in we should know our trend, 20- 30 games we should be very good if we've stayed on track, if not it will be a very uneven season and a lot of frustration for players/coaches/fans, because we flat lined somewhere. Game by game takedowns of players/coaches right now in regard to how season will be is a lil premature... but allowed on a fan board.

Players currently showing the most development/growth over last 5 games are Chris and Justin IMO.

They should push each other that every night there should be at least 15-20 points, 6-10 boards, 4 assist, 2 steals and at least 2 daggers of either dunks, money 3s, big blocks or hustle plays between the two of them.
 
I'd love to see Judah pass to Justin when he's open, usually at the beginning of a possession or on a break. Also I'd like to see Justin attempt to shoot instead of pass when a defender is near him. Justin needs to use some fakes to get the defender to move or jump and if he gets fouled that's even better.
He is deferring too much right now.
 
Agreed, biggest problem with the help defense is almost every guy on our team is getting blown by and there needs to be help every play which is just opening everything for our opponents.
Counting the number of times they ran us off screens and watching our guy trying to go thru and end up chasing was driving me crazy. No hedging, no switching, no cut offs, no rotation and no talking.
 
Didn't watch live so I'm not as fired up as a bunch of the stuff on here. I get that we're desperate to 'be back' but I'm not sure this group -- even if we put together a good season -- is going to quite make us feel 'back.' Could be wrong, but my point isn't really to criticize, simply to point out that we have more talent but still have a few holes and I see this group as a step closer to being a factor again, but unless a few guys really step up, it's another season with some ups and downs and hopefully a solid shot to get in off the bubble.

Anyway, a condensed version of my thoughts focused mostly on bigger themes instead of individuals:

The last 6-7 minutes or so of the first half killed us
We had a Bell/JJ/Taylor/McLeod/Benny group out there against a pressure defense that was clamping down. Not sure we got a quality look for the last 6-7 minutes. I know we were without an FG for a stretch spanning into the second half, but the worst part was I'm not sure we got good looks. To hear the sideline reporter say Red thought we got good looks but didn't make them was ... strange. Anyway, that lineup shouldn't be on the floor ... ever. Give me the wild rollercoaster of Copeland mixed in there or irrational confidence of Cuffe, at least if you're not going to try to steal a couple Judah minutes in there somewhere. The lineup we had on the floor was OK defensively (not great, but OK) but brutal offensively. Didn't work tonight and probably won't work much this season. Think we went from up like 3 to down 7. That hurt.

McLeod has to stay around the basket
Not sure I've ever seen a college hoops player (and I watched Billy Celuck) get beat off the dribble as badly as McLeod does. He gets caught in no-man's land on pick-and-rolls constantly, he doesn't get out on the mid-range jumper. It's brutal. That said, he's tough around the rim with his length. If he plays, we need to find some way to keep him near the hoop. Does that mean 2-3 zone? not sure, that didn't look great. Does it mean a different kind of funkier zone (1-3-1)? Maybe. How about some wrinkles in our m2m? Not sure, but when he was out there and we were in man, any time Tennessee needed a hoop they got him in a pick-and-roll.

This defense has to figure out secondary slides and help in general
Good god are we bad at help defense. Benny got beat on the wing by Knecht and he drove straight in for a layup and Benny had to foul. That's Tennessee's best player beating an OK, not great defender (Benny was too upright to have a chance to stay with him off the dribble) and not a soul around to help. Tennessee torched us with the pick-and-roll because when the ball went back to the screener, no one else slid to help -- that goes for zone and man. The Benny play is an issue with help defense; the pick-and-roll is a question of where that secondary slide comes in. We desperately need to figure this out.

Rebounding ... I mean, we probably just won't be good at it
Not much to say here but two thoughts -- defensively, we need to focus on it. There was a play very early where judah got switched onto a big who went to the post. A shot went up, it was a miss and Judah watched the guy get a rebound and lay it in. Bad look. Have to at least try and box out. The other thing is offensively -- Teams that rebound well offensively move and get the defense moving. We don't do this. We should start doing it.

Movement and spacing on offense
We almost never screen off-ball and when we do, we set half-hearted screens. This reduces our offense to a lot of 4-out drive, with the idea being to set up some buckets in the paint off drives and a few kick-outs to open shooters. But our spacing is weird and we run into our own guys (and their defenders, more to the point), which also sometimes leads to awkward too-close passes. Schematically this has been a bit disappointing on both sides of the ball so far.

Overall, people hate moral victories, but let's call this what it is. Nice for us to be able to hang on the floor with a better team. Judah stays out of foul trouble and we make a few more free throws who knows. But regardless had a few moments and that's not a terrible thing.
a good start with the rebounding would be to simply try to have players in close proximity to the hoop when a shot goes up...seems obvious but its not happening
 
This is weird formatting but agree with both of you ... and at the same time I think they've got to find a way to work him in a bit more. Taylor is more consistent and he's not hurting you with turnovers and bad shots. Bell, honestly, had a really nice offensive game in the second half and he's working much harder on defense ... but he remains a subpar defender at best and an absolutely brutal rebounder. Benny had some nice offensive plays so maybe we hold out some hope there, but he struggles on defense and his offense comes and goes.

The thing with Copeland is that he rebounds and hounds people defensively. He can also beat someone off the dribble from time to time (something the other three struggle with, though Bell has started to do some nice things here). I think Cuffe kind of falls in the same category -- not sure he'll finish well around the basket and not sure he's as good a shooter as he thinks he is ... but he defends well and works hard and is the only player on this team who moves/cuts off the ball.

I don't know what the optimal lineup. Maybe we're just in a weird spot where Taylor is steadier and Bell is more explosive offensively. But when Taylor is on the floor with McLeod it feels like we are down two scorers and any time Bell is on the floor we know we only have four rebounders and we may have a guy a good team is going to target defensively. Copeland and Cuffe, on the other hand, bring lots of negatives -- turnovers, strange decisions shooting the ball, etc. -- but are probably better fits for what Red wants to do defensively and Copeland is at worst our second-best rebounder. Maybe our best rebounder and we are getting killed on the glass.
Great summary. Hard to know where Brown fits into this as I’m not sure we’ve seen him healthy yet. He also may be one of our best passers but we’re not running any plays to take advantage of that.

I just wish we’d run some screens, back cuts and pass more and have someone, anyone looking to facilitate.
 
a good start with the rebounding would be to simply try to have players in close proximity to the hoop when a shot goes up...seems obvious but its not happening
It's funny/not funny but this generation of kids pay to do training for every little thing, but boxing out (which was one of the first things we learned playing in the park, they really really struggle with it. So simple, shot goes up, put a hand/body on man near you on the perimeter and box out down low, but you might as well be teaching rocket science. Every level.
 

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