Fire Whom??? Redux

Purple Reign Board Poster
Posted Dec 10, 2004


The "Fire Who?" POD got a response - including this from macarthur31:

I think we all agree that we want the Cats to win, and we're downright sick that they're not getting it done.

Only 6 games in, and the results have caused some of the faithful to begin wringing their hands of this team.

However, I'd like to submit for your review my perspective on our Cats' situation. What's wrong?

First of all, we have a small margin for error since we get destroyed in rebounding.
When we don't DEF rebound, we give more chances for the other team to score, and when we don't OFF rebound, we lose precious opportunities to add to our score total (which is even more impactful since we are deliberate on the offensive end).

How do you get better at rebounding? Well, first there's physical ability/giftedness -- and NU comes up literally short there. Yeah, Mike Thompson is 6'10, but neither Ivan Tolic or Davor Duvancic are graceful big men, and Vinny Scott is a wisp of a 7 footer.

Second, there's technique -- I don't know the individual technique of the players, however Carmody may have instituted a more "team rebounding" strategy which has players crash Defensive boards in a zone fashion. While this may try to counter our height/physical disadvantage, it limits our ability to run the break and outlet quickly.

Finally, there's just desire/grit -- and Jitim Young carried the torch in that department. Who is stepping up this year to do that dirty work? I believe that sheer will by the players can almost overcome lack of height and technique -- and only in the Virginia game have I seen that kind of effort. When I played ball, the adage was "Offense scores points, Defense wins games, and Rebounding wins championships."
Here are a few strategies to narrow the gap on the rebound deficiency:
You have to be more effective in field goal percentage (limit the opponent's ability to take your rebound, as well as save your offense the effort and energy towards rebounding missed field goals). You have to win the turnover battle (every possession is sacred, so at least make a shot on each possession so it forces the opponent the effort to make a shot; or take the ball away from your opponent so they have less opportunities to score, and your team doesn't have to expend energy/effort to rebound).

Finally, you can limit the number of shots in a game taken by both sides (and this can be done by either playing effective defense so that the opponent doesn't get a shot off, or by being deliberate on our own offensive end.)
Let's see how it's played out so far:
First, hit your G-D shots, and that'll get you over 50 points a game. Criminy -- I didn't think it was Carmody's fault that these guys miss open jumpers. You hit open jumpers, then the opponent gets out of its tight zone, and then you can back-cut them to death. What adjustment to the offense would you make to "unleash" the beast?

Second of all -- there's no way we run with Colorado or Virginia, as those teams are 8-9 deep. I think Carmody is fitting the system to his players, which at this point we run only 6-7 deep. By being disciplined in the offensive side, you force your opponent to be focused for 20-25 seconds at a time. Of course you run -- except you have to rebound defensively, outlet effectively, and pick your spots to run so you don't get tired. Parker/Hachad are averaging 30+ minutes a game. This is not a 70-80 point team, so you give them a chance to win by controlling Time of Possession (a la football).

That is the reality of our situation. You're asking for a coach to play around his personnel, and he is. I applaud Carmody for assessing his team and trying to take away his own team's weakness.
Is this team really walking on eggshells?
If I recall, Coach O'Neill would scream a la Bobby Knight, and publicly chide players. That's when players walk on eggshells, or at worst begin to tune players out.

I don't think Carmody is about the fear factor, and he knows that's not how players respond. (Especially those that aspire to be professionals.) I don't see how playing a disciplined, focused game, and wanting to be in the best position to win "scares" potential players away.

I [also] don't think NU is going to be a basketball factory that kowtows to players so they can showcase their talent for a year. (*Cough*, *Cough*, Memphis, *Cough*) And if players can't figure out that we're about winning the game, and playing it "the right way", then tell them to take a long walk off of a short pier -- those people are more headaches than they are worth.

Case in point: I'd consider Michael Thompson and Bernard Cote to be players that Carmody has recruited during his tenure. Sure they're transfers, but they've signed on to a system -- that invites them to work on their perimeter game and learn how to move without the ball.
Prepping for the pros?
What professional doesn't have to sign-on to a team's vision and style of play -- I thought the Pistons won the title last year on unselfish team play. Also, for the future -- Carmody has broken through and got three players from Illinois this past year from good high schools (Peoria Central, Whitney Young, Providence/Joliet). He's going to continue to bring in players from quality programs, who have experience in winning and have the desire to go to the next level.

Believe me, I want this team to win now. I don't understand the logic -- If we run a more up-tempo game we have now, I don't think we'll be in a position to win games because we have limited personnel options and very few guys (besides TJ, Mohamed Hachad and Brandon Lee, who else can sustain the "40 minutes of hell" style of basketball?) to execute that plan effectively. So, then we lose games.

Yet, how does that attract "quality" players to come here -- To come play for a coach who is too stubborn to suit a gameplan around his personnel?

In these first several games, this 2005 edition is looking for its identity. I thought Hachad had a solid year in '03/'04, and we were running the same system then -- is it Carmody's fault that he hasn't stepped up?

I want to see the team play with Michael Thompson before I make any judgements on writing off the program. He's got to improve our rebounding, and will be enough of a threat in the middle so that defenses will collapse and leave the open three for a Parker, Vukusic or Seacat. That'll be worth an extra 5-6 points in the long run and would've been the difference in the Virgina and Colorado games.

I'll take Carmody over O'Neill in a heartbeat. And, to press you more -- who would you bring in to Coach this team?

Where's your Urban Meyer of the hoops world? Who'd want NU's limitations, and not treat this as a stepping stone job. I think Carmody's genuinely happy to be here, and thinks he could create a baby Cameron Center atmosphere here with a few winning seasons.

Couple that with the Chicago media, and he's in prime shape to be "Barnett"-esque...(ok, maybe not a good metaphor).

Anyone else have a comment, or idea?

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