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Sunday Conversation 1/4

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Where we focus on the negative just because we lost our last game.

"I'm going to need you to block a lot of shots, because I'v forgotten how to defend."
"I'm going to need you to block a lot of shots, because I'v forgotten how to defend."
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Joel:
Why are we so bad at running away from teams when we're ahead? Nine minutes in against DePaul we were playing good offense and good defense, up 18-9, and on our way to 2-0 in the conference. Now we've erased all the good feelings from the Georgetown game and have blown what should have been our best chance for an easy conference road win. How are we this bad at finishing teams?

Brad:
That was legitimately infuriating. You may recall that I listed DePaul as a "red team," one that losing to would do significant damage to our tournament chances or our seed line. Somehow, we managed to do that. Dee's line was superficially mediocre today, but I thought he was awful with his decision making.

Bryan:
DePaul came into the game as one of the worst teams in the nation at defending inside the arc. We took 23 three and 27 twos today. Reynolds and Stainbrook only combined for seven shots, and they had five offensive boards between them. To not hammer the post against a team that bad a guarding it, on the road, and with Hamilton being in foul trouble makes no sense. Figure whatever figures there are to figure, but at the end of the day, the game was there for the taking, and for some reason we shot threes instead.

Joel:
At some point in time it has to be explored why we are so bad on the road. They can't defend inside at all, but we didn't have a plan to repost, we didn't have any big-to-big interaction in the game plan, and we just chucked almost indiscriminately. We also saw a lot more ball screen action than we have seen recently.

Is Coach Mack a bad road coach? Does such a thing exist?

Brad:
It can't. It seems like every loss brings out the Mack haters (not you), but no one seems to explain what else they'd like to see. I think this game was so winnable that he, and the team, had a hard time buckling down when needed. Our numbers aren't bad on the surface. Workable shooting, won on the boards, turned it over too much, but not exactly an epidemic. It's just that against DePaul, you'd expect the numbers to be better than just "not bad," and we never seemed to make an adjustment to find the next gear.

Joel:
Now we're looking at a home game against a surprisingly lively Seton Hall squad and then a trip to Butler to play in their barn. I think we'll be fine at home - though I thought we'd be fine against DePaul - but Butler defends like demons and the game is not going to be staged at Cintas. We probably need at least 10 or 11 conference wins, which would entail at least 2-3 road wins assuming we sweep at home. Do you think we can get it done?

Brad:
1. I think you're selling Seton Hall short. I've thought they were a strong bubble team all year. Losing Whitehead might actually help them a bit, because he's a ball stopper.
2. I think nine wins would be, depending on who they come against. The season is going to go up and down all through the conference, so goodness knows what's going to happen.

Joel:
If we face a team who has a big man that can shoot, we basically have to play zone. Any pick-and-pop action leads to wide open jump shots due to our insistence on that hedge. Run the other big into the paint and your picker will be free.

Why did we not stay in the zone yesterday? We were doing fine in it, and they were killing us in man. I'm increasingly convinced that this team can't play man.

Brad:
I have no idea why we didn't play more zone. There wasn't an adjustment that needed made there, it was already working. We are just too slow at guard to play man to man right now. Abell is the obvious exception, but no one else even comes close. Dee has, at least as a defender, taken a huge step back this year.

Joel:
It's frustrating; every guard we have other than Abell is incapable of preventing dribble penetration. It's killing everything we try to do in the half court. We were making progress for a while, but that DePaul game was a slide back into all our worst defensive habits.

Every loss has followed the same pattern we talked about in that post a couple of weeks back, and we did the same thing Saturday. No lead is safe for us right now. We just don't look like a tournament team.