I'll forgo the usual intro and just jump right into it this week. The Duquesne game was a win, but not much more. We started out with the goal of not mentioning it...
How bad was that?
Joel: Okay, the less said about that game against Duquesne, the better. We didn't handle them as hard as I would have liked, but it was a win. For what it's worth, Ken Pomeroy was calling it a seven-point win, and we won by eight. Duquesne shot like crap and we scored 73, but that game really just seemed crappy, because it was.
Anyway, GW and Charlotte both lost today, so the five-way tie for the final bye became a three-way one. We hold the head-to-head over La Salle and haven't played UMass yet, but a win over them would be a double boost if we can get it when the time comes. In the meantime, it's Fordham and @Dayton this coming week. We need to open up a can on Fordham because that game at UD is going to be tough. A win there would be monstrous.
Brad: I just don't see us winning at Dayton if we play anything like we did tonight. If Dayton goes 25-4 on us, I'll turn it off and catch up on Grey's Anatomy or something. Coach Mack can talk all he wants about that being a difficult place to play and every conference road game being tough, but everyone knows we were garbage tonight. Also, have you ever seen a worse home crowd? We've both played in gyms louder than that in games at a much lower level. Duquesne students should be embarrassed, because that really looked like a nice arena.
Joel: No kidding. There were a couple of our Twitter followers there; I thought about trying to get them to start a Banners-related chant. It would have come through. Even during their massive run, the place sounded like the Masters. Duquesne basketball: a tradition unlike any other.
It's a testament to how badly we played that they went 25-4 on us. It's testament to how awful they are that they could go on an eight-minute run in which they outscored us by 21 and still need a banked three in the last minute to avoid losing by double digits. They need to beat Fordham or they're not winning an A-10 game.
How are we so inconsistent? Where is the effort that stomped Dayton on the glass? Where's the defense that let us beat Butler by 15? This team has enough talent to get the bye and the auto bid, but they disappear from time to time for no apparent reason.
Coaching and inconsistency
Brad: That has to be coaching. I will give Mack credit for cobbling together some pieces that he shouldn't have had to use at all (thank you, administration), but that doesn't completely absolve him. Yes, everyone has bad days and teams are going to miss shots, we all know that. That's not what happened last night though, last night we went up 11 and completely fell asleep. That's coaching
Joel: I'm more inclined to give the coach the benefit of the doubt, but I've gotta go with you on this one. We have set a pattern of coming out of the half listless on offense. Coach Mack said in the booth with Byron and Joe that we came out of the half doing too much dribbling, too much standing and watching, and too much settling for the perimeter. I understand he's out of eligibility, but whose role is it to stop that before it gets to 25-4? It's his. I know we've got a thin bench, but I don't think Semaj is out there thinking that he's going to do whatever he wants because he can't be benched. If Mack tells him to feed the post, I think he will.
Positives: Philmore had spontaneous onset testicle growth. Everyone will remembner when he put 'em in the spin cycle, but I was more encouraged by the fact that he finally used his width to good effect. He and Trav worked a nice little high-low a couple of times, too. We went the last 16 minutes without a turnover. The defense didn't seem good, but we did hold them to 33% from the floor and 28% from deep. We finally won without getting a contribution from deep. We've got a chance to go to 7-3 in the league if we can beat Fordham at home.
Brad: I think the pace made the defense seem worse than it was. So did letting Duquesne grab offensive rebounds. What really surprised me is that Mack recognized what was happening with the offense but didn't call a timeout to stop it. Was that the first 25-4 run in history where the opposing coach just watched it happen? I like Mack, but he reacts too slowly sometime. We had that game by the throat and he needed Isaiah Philmore blowing up in a timeout to get going again.
Joel: I think in-game adjustments are definitely his weak point. If his original game-plan isn't working (against Baylor, for instance) or the other starts executing better (last night) or makes an adjustment, it seems like it takes him a minute to shift gears. The fact that it took Philmore last night or Redford against Kent St to get us past a clearly inferior opponent isn't good. I'm hoping he'll grow into being able to shift gears quicker as he gains experience as a coach. I think he can recruit and motivate; if he gains some nuance as a strategist, I think he'll be great until he leaves us for a more lucrative job.
Brad: I'm afraid that he doesn't motivate like he should. The problem last night wasn't all that the Dukes went into that zone, it was also that we look for all the world like we couldn't possibly have cared less. By the time our bigs finally took over, we were in crisis mode. Maybe we are being a bit harsh here though, it isn't the fault of anyone in the bench that two of our three scholarship guards combined to go 2-12 from the floor and 1-7 from deep.
Feed the postThe Duquesne worst case scenario win, coaching and inconsistent play, and feeding the post.
Joel: But it is at least a bit of their fault that they kept shooting. The ball should have been starting every possession on the post. When it wasn't, I would have liked to see Mack call a timeout and adjure them to feed it inside. We tweeted over top of each other expressing frustration about that. I think we took about twice as many threes as we needed during the course of the game. Once it was clear that they couldn't stop Taylor or Philmore, the only guard shooting should have been on kickouts.
It was weird to me that this was the game where JRob disappeared. He's scored on some decent interior defenses, but he looked bored last night, even after his tip dunks. Still can't figure that dude out.
Brad: With most guys like him it seems like big plays or easy buckets get them going. With Robinson, I'm not sure anything gets him going. He did still grab five rebounds and he was at least participating on defense, so it wasn't a complete Bad Jeff game.
Yes, it was infuriating to me that we weren't feeding the post. It's not an exaggeration to say that Philmore and Taylor both should have been in the 20s easily. We've played backwards for the last couple years and gotten away with it because we had two of the best guards in the history of the program. We do not have the talent to do that now, very few teams ever do. Feed the post, feed the post, feed the post.
Joel: Not much I can add to that. Fordham at home should be nothing but a warm up. That game at Dayton against a Flyers team that I'm guessing hasn't forgotten how X emasculated them at Cintas should tell us where we are. Everyone needs to show up ready to go for 40 minutes of game time. If we mess the bad there, getting that bye is going to be tough sledding.