First off, we are aware that today isn't Sunday. The Kent State game precluded much conversing on Sunday because we had to watch at different times due to church obligations. I watched the game much later at night than it actually happened, so Joel's Facebook inbox took the brunt of my frustration and then what turned into a much longer string of discussion, Brad Redford's amazing six minutes.
Brad: How do I know I'm awesome? I just used penumbra in an article about a basketball game. Have you ever seen a better six minutes of basketball than what Redford played from 14:28 to 8:48 tonight? Nine points, a rebound, two assists, and a game completely changed. That was amazing. He knew it to, after that two dribble flick of the wrist three. That shot came straight out of a dribble and he just banged it without a second thought.
Joel: I saw Reggie score eight in nine seconds against the Knicks in the playoffs, so that was part of a fairly solid stretch of play. As much as we point out that Redford is fairly one-dimensional on offense, he used that dimension to full effect last night. Their entire roster was charging him down on that assist, and he slid it to Stenger and left him with a finish I could have converted. We were floundering until he started playing pop-a-shot. That burst from him and Dee (who also had a three and the little runner) really spared our blushes. How did Dee look? To hear Byron and Joe tell it, he was fairly active defensively, and four assists to two turnovers isn't bad.
Brad: I hate Reggie, don't talk about Reggie to me when I am trying to be happy. Hating Reggie and Inside Man are the only two things Spike Lee and I have ever agreed on.
Dee looked good. He was finally active on defense again and actually tried to get in the lane on offense. When he just stands around outside and doesn't slash, we look awful. Speaking of standing around looking awful, why is Jeff Robinson still shooting threes? Come off it already man.
Joel: I'd like to think being pulled for James Farr (who I like as a project but is clearly not ready right now) would wake Robinson up, but that's fairly doubtful. Stenger brings more to the team than Robinson right now; at least he's active. We need something from someone inside or else our ceiling is fairly low. I know UC has the softest out of conference schedule this side of 'Cuse, but they'll destroy us inside if we play like we did in allowing Melvin Tabb to go for 20 and 14. We have a knack for playing to the level of the competition right now, and it has bit us in the haunches twice.
Brad: UC terrifies me right now. One of their forwards might accidentally score 40 on us unless someone in the post decides to play as if they have man parts. We allowed Kent 14 offensive rebounds in a single half. That's just amazing. Philmore now reminds me of Taylor last year. He just seems like the game is moving too quickly for him.
Joel: I'm with you on the Philmore/Taylor last year thing, right down to the elite rebounding rates without looking confident at any time. In Redford, Davis, and Martin, we have three shooters who are a combined 51-108 (47.2%) from behind the arc. Semaj has elite speed and quickness that is going to trouble any defense. Those four guys - only three of whom we can have on the court at the same time for any meaningful stretch - give us a puncher's chance against anyone. The difference between that and a good team is any sort of reliable inside presence. Until we have that, we're going to play down to bad teams but have a shot at just about anyone. Before Kent State, our two biggest margins of victory were Purdue and Butler, the two best teams we faced.
Brad: Taylor is starting to worry me. He can dominate for stretches and there are times he looks unguardable in the post. Unfortunately, he also is capable of disappearing so completely you wonder if he ever existed. Part of it is him not getting the ball enough, but he also needs to get position and demanding that the guards feed him. He just does not do that right now. That leaves him out of the game and a bit timid when he does get it again.
Joel: Taylor went into double-figures three times in the first four games and has done it once in the last five. He's shooting 12-35 in those five games. Justin Martin is the tallest guy on this team I would trust with a meaningful possession right now. Here's the thing, though: maybe that doesn't matter. As we have discussed in previous conversations, only one guy can score at a time. If we keep getting what we're getting out of Semaj and JMart and have one of Redford and Davis splashing open threes, all we need out of the forwards is defense, rebounding, and the ability to catch a pass and make a layup. To that end, don't you start Taylor and Philmore, bring Stenger in for scrappy minutes, and tell Jeff Robinson that his only two positions on offense are within ten feet and sitting on the bench?
Brad: At some point a team is going to go 3-2 and dare us to beat them inside. Or someone will go 1-3-1 and make us beat them with a player on the block. Unless we reinvent offense to the point that we establish the perimeter and then work in (which we can do if we keep dropping 47% from deep) we are going to have to get some consistent production from Taylor or Philmore.
Right now there is no need to play Robinson. He takes bad shots, he doesn't rebound, and he is back to seeming completely lost. He's the kind of player you get when a coach leaves and takes his recruits with him. He has the athleticism to help even if he just makes himself into a grinder, but he won't/cant do that. For now, I give Stenger all of Robinson's minutes and at least know that the one point comes with relentless effort and some rebounding.
Brad, again: How close are we to advocating some sort of four outside of one here?
Joel: I think Taylor has the passing and rebounding ability to be the big in a four in, one out scheme. I think it all depends on how big the opponent's second forward is. Martin has the athletic ability to rebound outside of his area, but I'm not sure he has the strength to secure an area against a big rebounder or the defensive prowess to hold his own against a good post player. My kingdom for Jalen Reynolds.
Here's what the season comes down to for me: if Philmore or Taylor can step up as a legitimate back-to-the-basket option, we can win 20 and have a reason to watch the selection show. If we keep playing the Semaj and three shooters game, we're going to spend Selection Sunday talking about how good we'll be next year.