The two key questions for this team | Syracusefan.com

The two key questions for this team

billsin01

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We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
 
We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
War and Peace. Good stuff
 
Agree with what you said, this is definitely a learning year for Red and the team around him is making it a challenge. Not to use it as an excuse as Red assembled his team but lots of learning to go around. Getting Westry back mid season will also be good but another example of how to make him fit.

Another wrench to throw in the equation is the handful Benny Williams has been for the first year coach. Again something he should not have been blind sided with as he's "mentored" him the last 2 years.

All said and done I think we all are at where we expected to be, a work in progress and a fringe tournament team.
 
We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
I disagree just a bit with your first point. I think the roster construction of this team was much better than what we have seen in recent years. Just my opinion, but I think the Chance Westry injury and Benny Williams issues, make it seem a bit more disjointed. I think if, when, Westry gets healthy, you'll see a much more dynamic rotation. The other piece to that is if JJ Starling can continue to play (more importantly shoot) like he did Saturday. That opens up sooooo much more on the offensive end.
As far as the defense, I have no idea lol. There seem to be way too many missed rotations/assignments etc. Guys thinking they have help when they don't, not sure where they're supposed to be. I chalk part of that up to a lot of new pieces but it needs to get more fluid.
 
I have to be honest - use of bench and man-to-man has won us some games this year that I'm not sure would have been wins under the previous regime. Win, lose or draw - I like being the aggressor. Keep that up and I can live with some ups and downs.
 
If they would just understand that when you get beat and someone slides to help you need to roll over to the other mans guy.. Too many times we actually stop the guy off the screen but they continue to chase the ball instead of covering the pass. But we are doing a better job of ball screens up high and switching which is good. We are fighting over screens more instead of lazily going under which is good.

The lack of effort plays is killer, when we play with effort, we make enough plays to be OK on D. But so many no shows on the boards adds up and we get out jumped over and over when in position.
 
this team will go as far as the defense takes it...and I like what I see in many ways

still too many breakdowns and poor decisions on defense...but it is improving game to game

my 2 questions:

Can this team embrace a pressure defense first philosophy?

Can the offense become more efficient?


seeing Starling all of sudden able to shoot like the 5 star he was is very encouraging. Wonder what kind of impact Westry can make. Lack of inside presence on offense is a problem. For now, the team can't seem to generate buckets off of assists, which is a huge issue. But if that area improves it will also raise the ceiling on the season.

Bonus question: Can they learn to take a punch?
 
this team will go as far as the defense takes it...and I like what I see in many ways

still too many breakdowns and poor decisions on defense...but it is improving game to game

my 2 questions:

Can this team embrace a pressure defense first philosophy?

Can the offense become more efficient?


seeing Starling all of sudden able to shoot like the 5 star he was is very encouraging. Wonder what kind of impact Westry can make. Lack of inside presence on offense is a problem. For now, the team can't seem to generate buckets off of assists, which is a huge issue. But if that area improves it will also raise the ceiling on the season.

Bonus question: Can they learn to take a punch?
Agree that for this team to work its way onto the bubble the defense has to be very good. The offense is going to be streaky and we're limited, and there's a better chance of becoming consistently good on defense. And that includes finishing defensive possessions by getting the rebound.
 
Few people know that it was almost called "War; what is it good for?"
I’ld be careful saying that on here. Testikov and Lippman read this board.
 
I am more than satisfied with where things are because going into the season I knew we had a bunch of incomplete role players under a new coach. My only surprise is Benny, who I thought would be a better and consistent player under Red. Also, we are missing a valuable piece with Westry out. Remember that over the summer we were all salivating with the thought of a Starling-Mintz-Westry trio.
 
The two positions I thought we had covered with both depth and variety - was guard with Mintz, Starling, Westry, Cuffe, even Copeland and center with McLeod, Hima, Carey and Patterson. That’s 9 of our 13 scholarships. However injuries and lack of early development has really restricted that depth particularly at center. It has affected the power forward position the most. I originally thought Bell/Taylor added to our diversity at shooting guard/ small forward positions. Instead we’ve had to play Brown and Taylor out of position at center/power forward mainly because of our issues at those positions since Benny and the centers are unreliable. We need a bonafide power forward and a developed center next year that can rebound, give us an inside presence. This year Red has had to adjust to the continuing Benny saga along with the injuries and lack of development affecting our center position that will hopefully be addressed next year along with replacing the go-to scoring of Judah next year assuming he’s going pro. Exciting times ahead putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Definitely, there’s been positive progress.
 
We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
Really good post! Just a few things to comment on...

- Agree 100% on Copeland. He brings so much that we need on this team and can be a huge difference maker with his energy and size. That said, the turnovers! I think it's tough with him because you don't want to take away his energetic play and fun of the game BUT he needs to make better decisions at times.

- JT is a tough one because he does a lot of things well. However, I'm a bit disappointed about the offense side of things. I expect he will get better and find a way to get more shots off, but who knows when that will happen. Solid player though.

- Brown is so solid and should be on the court as much as possible. If that means playing the center position, so be it, but I just wish he could play his natural position (but that means one of the centers stepping up more consistently).

- I'm really happy to see Bell shooting much better this year - something we REALLY need on this team. Too bad he doesn't do much else.

- I can't express how happy I was watching Starling hit those 3's the other night. Great for the young man and much needed for the team. If he can continue (even if it's in the mid to high 30% range), that would be big. I will admit, I was getting tired seeing him log so many minutes the way he was shooting. Hopefully he can just continue to prove me wrong!
 
Much youth on this team...1st year head coach... VERY uneven performances by the players.
As much TALENT as there is, we shouldn't be surprised at what we have seen thus far.
Tune up the fundamentals(when to switch/rebound) and learn their "roles", keep up the intensity, move and be spaced on offense..sounds like these ought to be "givens". They will be as I think Autry expects these from his team. I'm going to set the bar as an 8 seed come March.
 
I disagree just a bit with your first point. I think the roster construction of this team was much better than what we have seen in recent years. Just my opinion, but I think the Chance Westry injury and Benny Williams issues, make it seem a bit more disjointed. I think if, when, Westry gets healthy, you'll see a much more dynamic rotation. The other piece to that is if JJ Starling can continue to play (more importantly shoot) like he did Saturday. That opens up sooooo much more on the offensive end.
As far as the defense, I have no idea lol. There seem to be way too many missed rotations/assignments etc. Guys thinking they have help when they don't, not sure where they're supposed to be. I chalk part of that up to a lot of new pieces but it needs to get more fluid.
I think that's a great point. If JJ plays similar to how he did on Saturday, Benny gets his head out of his keister and plays better, and Westry comes back, this team looks MUCH different. How could we have expected JJ shooting so poorly (to begin the year) and Benny being a complete non-factor. Hopefully we can just continue to improve.
 
We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.


This will sound crazy, but when I see guys just stand there as the ball bounces right near them and they fail to react at all, I kind of wonder if they got high before the game.
 
We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
If Westry comes back and is effective I'm going to challenge the top 4/5 acc comment. Lots of good points in here. That said against UVA for instance, we needed that true PG who was also a problem on defense to open the game up for Judah some.

JJs game against Gtown also makes me pause on being more pessimistic. If he finds his game the rest of the year... that's a huge change as well.

I think we are as much a 10th place ACC team as a top 4 but it's on the table still.
 
I disagree just a bit with your first point. I think the roster construction of this team was much better than what we have seen in recent years. Just my opinion, but I think the Chance Westry injury and Benny Williams issues, make it seem a bit more disjointed. I think if, when, Westry gets healthy, you'll see a much more dynamic rotation. The other piece to that is if JJ Starling can continue to play (more importantly shoot) like he did Saturday. That opens up sooooo much more on the offensive end.
As far as the defense, I have no idea lol. There seem to be way too many missed rotations/assignments etc. Guys thinking they have help when they don't, not sure where they're supposed to be. I chalk part of that up to a lot of new pieces but it needs to get more fluid.
Yeah, I can see this. A consistent scoring threat in Starling would make a big difference and Westry is certainly a wild card.

Where I differ a bit -- and I wouldn't say disagree because b/c a bought-in Benny, healthy, productive Westry and consistent Starling would change a lot -- is that we still wound up with a bunch of incomplete players. I'll leave Starling out, because if he finds a way to shoot consistently, he is a different player. So we'll see what happens.
 
I think the defense is only a little bit less than average. They give up a lot of offensive rebounds, but they get a lot of steals and blocks. The offense is still very 1-dimensional and reliant on heroic performances - and it shows.

It's not a direct correlation, but better offenses tend to have higher assist percentages (more FGA off a pass).
These are the P5 teams this season and it tracks. The teams in SU's quadrant, poor O-rating and poor assist percentages are not good teams. Most of the top-10 teams are in the upper right quadrant (higher O-rating, higher assist percentage). Baylor has a slight lower than average assist %, but their O-rating is the best in the P5.

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We've played 10 games, pretty close to 1/3 of a season. Certainly not enough to come to many hard and fast judgments on Red or this group as a whole, but we also have a more of a sample size for this current group and a much better idea of what Red is attempting to install here (at least, I think so on the latter point).

After re-watching the G'town and UVA games, I feel comfortable saying this isn't a top-4/5 ACC team and we're likely to be scrambling to find our way into the tourney field. I think we'll be a tough out for most ACC teams and be very competitive but not sure we're good enough or complete enough to really push the Miamis, Dukes and UNCs of the world. Obviously, nothing is set in stone and we're a work in progress, so if I'm wrong, that's terrific.

But having said that, I think we're looking at two key questions to determine if we can outplay my best guess as to this team's likely fate.

1) Can Red figure out how to mix and match a bunch of misfit parts?
Red's got a confusing roster to manage at this point. Judah is Judah and the good faaaarrr exceeds the bad there. JJ is likely to get a lot of run because as up and down as he is, he can get to the rim, handle the ball, defend and (fingers crossed) he's 5 for his last 9 on threes. Bell should get some good run because he's been given the green light to shoot whenever (at least I think that has to be the case) and he can knock down shots. He's .382 on the season from three and if you take the UVA game out of the picture, he's shooting 45% from the floor and 42% from three. Brown isn't a real scoring threat, but he's probably your second-best all-around player, so he'll play quite a bit too.

But, the rest of the crew? Who knows? Copeland is a creator who has confidence and plays with a very high energy level (aside from maybe being your best rebounder). So that's the good. But his turnover rate is crazy and while the jumper looks better, he's still a liability there). Taylor doesn't need the ball in his hands to do good things ... but he's basically been a non-factor offensively in six of our 10 games. He's simply not able to create is own offense. Cuffe is intriguing to me but I'm not sure he's a guy they can really, truly lean on this season as he works his way back on the floor after two years of injuries. Maybe, but not sure. Benny can shoot a bit, can pass a bit, and he's not a bad rebounder. But he is also really up and down and you just never know what he's going to bring. McLeod/Hima/Carey ... what can you say?

The same holds true defensively. Mintz still brings more good than bad on this end, Starling isn't a playmaker defensively, but he's solid. Brown is a good defender. May get abused by bigger bigs, but it is what it is. Copeland gambles a lot but is really active on the defensive end. Cuffe seems like a really nice fit for this defense -- plays the passing lanes well, is solid on-ball (though he struggled vs. UVA). Taylor get out-muscled occasionally, or struggles at times to keep up with quicker players. But, by and large he's ok there.

Other than that? Bell has improved defensively, but remains adequate at best, IMO. He's not active enough -- that jump ball against G'town where McLeod wins the tip but the guy Bell is lined up next to reacts and has the ball before Bell has moved. It's a question of consistent intensity and activity. That's reflected in his atrocious rebounding as well. Same goes for Benny in terms of intensity. He had a brutal day defensively against Georgetown and got beat to two loose balls. McLeod would probably be a nice piece in a zone but ... we don't really play much zone. In man, he's a complete and utter liability. Hima might be a bit better but apparently he's broken down.

So how does Red work this rotation? I guess at some level you mix and match game to game until you find what works. I feel like Copeland is a good fit on offense with his creativity, handle and confidence and a good fit on defense with his length, quickness and rebounding ... but, I just don't know on his decision-making and turnovers. My gut tells me you hope he can even out a bit with more PT, but I can understand why others would disagree.

Bell and Taylor are the two I can't figure out. Bell's shooting has been really good. His release looks quicker and cleaner to me this year. He has a nice pump-fake/pull-up and he's even gotten into the lane a few times. He's improved defensively too, but man is he a complete non-factor outside of scoring. Offensively, he doesn't move, just camps out on the wing or in the corner. He never finds anyone for a bucket and he never gets to the line -- he has six assists and five free throw attempts in 10 games. That's almost unfathomable. Defensively, he's better but he's not great, not a good team defender and his lack of rebounding is an absolute killer. He had 1 reb vs. g'town and it was a ball going out of bounds that he saved to Taylor. Brutal.

Taylor brings some more variety to his game -- can play some defense, pretty solid rebounder, he's third on the team in assists, and the kid plays hard. But he has zero ability -- or at least no confidence in his ability -- to get a shot against a decent opponent. I realize I'm cherry-picking, but if colgate, tennessee, gonzaga, LSU, UVA and g'town are the six best teams we've played so far, Taylor has 18 total points in those six games on 6-for-37 shooting (16%). I mean, again, unfathomable.

McLeod and Hima are going to really struggle in this defensive system. Carey, who knows? Is he healthy? Any idea? Cuffe fits really well defensively, IMO, even though UVA was tough for him. But his offensive game is a bit dicey. And that's that. Those are your options.

Not an easy task.

Second question: How can we tweak this defense to be more cohesive?
I'm not sure if we are bad at help defense or if maybe the idea is that we don't want to help and force people to make individual plays, but any way you slice it good teams are going to carve up this defense. Thought G'town got good looks from three in the second half and just didn't shoot well. That game could have gone down to the wire.

The issue to me is we have five guys all trying to play good defense but no structure to anything and I'm not sure about our advanced scouting. Georgetown opened with three uncontested layups -- one off a high ball screen, one off refusing the ball screen. Super simple offensive actions. We gave up two of their made threes on really simple action that we just didn't react well to at all. We've had games where we've let Taylor get abused against a bigger offensive player on the block, over and over, and not sent any help. We let the Daniels kid from UNH go left over and over when he's left-handed. We have McLeod playing drop coverage where he somehow manages to not guard his man, not guard the guy coming around the screen and then occasionally pick off whichever teammate is chasing the ball-handler.

It's just strange. To me, if you are going to try and get the most out of McLeod you've got to employ some sort of zone where he can hang around the basket. The rest of the time you can play man but we can't let opposing bigs get position down low, take three or four dribbles and pump fake/pivot three or four times without any help coming. We can't get caught with a guard chasing a play around screens but effectively being 7 or 8 feet behind the play without anyone else reacting. We have to get back on defense and have balance defensively if our guards are driving into the paint on offense all night.

At the end of the day, five guys face-guarding the other team may work on some nights, but we've got to have better reactions when we get put in bad spots.

So how do you fix it? I think we need to attack ball-handlers with a big off the screen. That means Brown at the 5 most of the time. When a guard gets caught on a screen off-ball, we need the awareness for the screener's defender to switch and take that guy -- no more chasing a play four or five steps behind the defender. We need better communication on off-ball screens in general. We need to take better shots on offense and get back on defense to set up more consistently. When Taylor gets in a tough matchup down low, we need to go into scramble mode and help. We need some sort of zone so we can take advantage of McLeod's minutes for stretches. This just generally needs to be a more sophisticated approach.
We were 230ish in Def efficiency last year and 109 this year.. I think thats a big improvement. Our M2M is not perfect but getting better and more consistent. I keep seeing people on here harping about the Opp missing open 3s and basically saying we are getting lucky for that.. Team are going to get open ooks against everyone.. Its how uncomfortable you make shooters on many of the 3s so that they will rush or adjust shot... When we played zone all the team we really never made anyone uncomfortable.

And yes Im not sure what the strategy with our help side is.. If Red tells them not to rotate and leave shooters or if they are missing help assignments. I believe those are adjustments that can and will be made

Offense is much more of an issue at this point but I have seen some growth.. Think thats alot to do wth personel gelling
 
I am more worried about our offense than our defense. I think teams that are committed to defending will give us problems. Teams like Georgetown who tried to outshoot us - I think we can hang.
 
This is a scrappy team that plays with energy and can be fun to watch. That said it likely isn't more than a middle of the pack team in the ACC and at best a possible NIT team. Why? It has 2 major flaws. 1. Poor perimeter shooting. 2. Weak rebounding against the better teams.
The only real outside threat is Bell. Taylor has nice touch but needs a LOT of space to get his shot off that limits his attempts. When Red goes with Bell and Taylor at the forwards it's small and gets abused on the boards. His answer has been to replace Taylor with Copeland. That helps on the boards but hurts scoring as Copeland is not a scorer and is a terrible shooter who should never be allowed to take a shot more than 5 feet from the rim. Neither of the starting guards has to be respected from behind the arc. These flaws limit the upside for this team. They have strengths too I'm just saying the weaknesses limit the number of wins to really go anywhere. We'll see. Maybe JJ will begin to shoot better and that would help.
 
I think the defense is only a little bit less than average. They give up a lot of offensive rebounds, but they get a lot of steals and blocks. The offense is still very 1-dimensional and reliant on heroic performances - and it shows.

It's not a direct correlation, but better offenses tend to have higher assist percentages (more FGA off a pass).
These are the P5 teams this season and it tracks. The teams in SU's quadrant, poor O-rating and poor assist percentages are not good teams. Most of the top-10 teams are in the upper right quadrant (higher O-rating, higher assist percentage). Baylor has a slight lower than average assist %, but their O-rating is the best in the P5.

View attachment 234847

Yeah the takes on our defense on the board lately don't match the data, I get that it's not blow away, but it's much much better than the last 2 years.

2021: DRtg: 107.6 (323rd of 358) - good lord
2022: DRtg: 105.9 (284th of 363)
2023: DRtg: 97.4 (109th of 362)

It def hasnt looked great in spots vs the best teams, but the data backs up that it's been better in general. We'll see how we do in the ACC where I feel like other team's comfort playing against the zone, imo, has killed us. I think we'll see improvement.
 

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