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Sunday Conversation: Quentin Goodin and the offense are awesome; Paul Scruggs and the defense?

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Plus: Paul is a KenPom heretic, Joel makes a fair point, and JP’s minutes look nice.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Wisconsin
“HOW DARE THEY!?”
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan

Okay so that was a pretty comprehensive thrashing of a team that would be a certain Queen City based program's best win, so there isn't a lot to be sad about.

The only big negative I see is the RumTum Scruggernuts turned it over 3 times in 14 minutes against a team that is very bad at forcing turnovers. Unless Q can give us 40 minutes of quality distribution per game, Dee Davis-style, it would be nice to see Scruggs clean it up a bit.

Joel

His turnover rate is sky high and his assist rate is just a hair better than Naji's. At this point, I think we're looking at JP - who would not doubt be delighted to know he has played in exactly 69% of the available minutes - as the backup PG. I don't think that's a recipe for long-term success. It would be nice to see Scruggs find his feet a bit.

This is an absurd offense. We've got six guys making over 60% of their two-point attempts. Aside from not having a backup point, we also don't have a center who is playing even 20 minutes per game. Is that a concern going forward?

Bryan

I don't think it necessarily is. Jones and O'Mara are our two main centers and are a study in contrasting styles, but have been effective as changes of pace for one another this year. Neither is fouling at the rate they did last year, which kind of made it impossible to ride them for that long.

Throw in Kanter, who can run the 4 or 5 and I see it as being hard to game plan for more than not having "the guy" underneath.

Brad

And part of the reason that Jones hasn’t logged major minutes is because they are babying that knee as much as they can to get it to Big East play. It’s a shame he’s not logging monster minutes, because he’s been a monster.

I’m not as worried about Scruggs going forward, he just looks like a freshman point guard to me. He was in attack mode last night. I’d say there’s a difference in the aggressive turnovers he’s making and the turnovers of timidity that Elias Harden is. Neither, though, is a valid choice right now.

Bryan

I'm not sure Scruggs isn't a valid choice, just that I would like to see him make a little better decisions before we get to teams that those mistakes will matter against (and Georgetown and DePaul).

After the ASU game, we have not seen a lot of the 1-3-1. Is Mack saving it for conference or did it get torched so badly that he is coming up with a new defensive changeup?

Brad

He showed it yesterday, along with a 2-3, and Joe and Byron mentioned that he was saving it for after Christmas break because he wanted time to work on it more before fully implementing it.

Joel

I think Naji is heir to JP in a lot of ways, not least of which is the top of that 1-3-1. He has the tools to be destructive up there.

On the whole, do you think the defense shores up at all this year, or are we just going as far as we can gun ourselves?

Paul

I actually think the defense is a lot better than Kenpom says. In the majority of our games, we have played 30 minutes of stout defense before building a big lead and then letting up. Its not without its flaws, but I would be really surprised if we dont see our defensive ranking rise throughout the year.

Brad

I’m with Paul here. When we’ve needed stops, with the exception of a red hot ASU team, we’ve gotten them. Wisconsin and Baylor we shut down late, UC was an early zipping up, and last night we forced Colorado into 1-11 after they closed within 13.

Joel

So your argument is that our defense is good if you throw out the times it was bad? That seems spurious. Sure, the defense looks adequate when we're getting 1.2 points per possession. When we are up against a defense that is stopping us from doing that, I'm not convinced we can get the stops we need for 40 minutes.

Brad

I’m not sure we always can either. My point is that we’ve buckled down when we needed to, so it’s clearly in there somewhere.

Paul

Fair point. My argument would be that its a little harder to stay focused defensively when you're boat racing teams and it's making them look a little worse than they actually are. That said, the team is ranked at 59 defensively on Kenpom and that’s about par for the course for a CM team. I would expect them to rise to about the mid 40s, but maybe that’s too optimistic. Luckily we have the luxury of knowing this team is good enough defensively to make a run because they did it last year.