Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where did it go wrong?

The aftermath of the U.C. loss to Marquette has plenty of rabid fans pointing fingers and looking for a head (red head) on a platter. The promise of an improving program in Maui has disintegrated into another futile push to the NCAA tournament, and the more realistic hopes being the N.I.T. Maybe.
Since Marquette is freshest on the mind, we'll start there. I think Mick gave his detractors some red meat in this one. Several pounds of it. I cannot agree that free throws were the main culprit in this one. A contributor, yes, but not the main culprit. I cannot agree with Yancy Gates sitting on the bench the final 7 minutes of regulation and the entire overtime. Gates only had 3 rebounds, but was 6 of 9 from the field. I cannot agree with a lineup that failed to create the mismatches that favored U.C. on the offensive end of the floor. In essence, U.C. ended the game with a lineup that allowed Marquette to stay in a comfort zone on both ends of the floor. I understand there were a couple of defensive lapses, and in a close game you cannot afford them. You also cannot afford to have your best players on the bench down the stretch in the biggest game of the year. So Mick will be hearing about this one. But Mick knows that is part of the deal, just like any coach or manager gets drilled after a tough loss.

Now for the season: I like the defense and rebounding approach, but let's face it, the offense has been abysmal. You can rebound and play defense all night long, but at some point you have to put the ball in the basket. The offense never developed this season. Neither did a go-to guy. Deonta Vaughn was thought to be such a player, but it never happened. Whether it was the early-season clear out plays for Lance Stephenson, or some other reason, Deonta never seemed to have the same swagger and confidence. Stephenson never found a niche in the offense as well. Perhaps too much was put in his young hands too early. Cashmere took quite a while to come around, understandable because he was rebounding from injury. The other option would be the guy who stands 6-9, and weighs 260. Whether he takes plays off or not, this team needed to feed the ball inside more, meaning Gates. Obviously they needed to penetrate more too, creating kick-out opportunities. I know it's not the best shooting team, but that makes getting open looks from the outside and close shots inside more important. Throwing the ball around the perimeter accomplishes nothing. Mick needs to get an offensive philosophy established and be just as much a stickler for that as he is his defense and rebounding philosophies.

I haven't read a single blog or message board before writing this, but I'm sure Mick is getting torched. I'm also sure he knows things have to change. Mick had an incredible passion for this job when he took it. After four years are trying to dig out of a huge hole, Mick needs to tap into that passion to take the next step. I do not want U.C. to panic and give in to those calling for a change at the top. He started from scratch and is trying to build a program that will last. It CAN happen in four years, but those are the rare exceptions. I'm older, so I'm a little more patient. But this is not even close to those dire days of the 1980's, when the only time you talked about bubbles was when you opened up a fresh piece of Bazooka.

1 comment:

  1. UC seems to always have trouble with Marquette...even in the Huggins days. I think realistically, we can't approach UC basketball by expecting an F-16 performance from a WWII P-51 Mustang. Point being, we know what Mick's capabilities are and we know that the scouting/recruiting has been in the toilet, nay, the port-a-let since Huggins' departure - so what do the fans expect?! I'm not saying it is fun to lose, nor acceptable, and I'm also not saying that a lack of hustle is "applaudable" - but if your expectations are not realistic, you are setting yourself for continual disappointment.

    All things considered, the team has done well...working with what they have.

    Hey, I'm no prophet, but maybe UC will turn around just like the Reds will in 2003 when we get the new stadium. I can't wait!!