In the aftermath of the UK-UL game, I find myself wondering why it is that players today get so damned specialized? Is it because they have it drilled into them (not necessarily by their coaches) that they do a certain thing well and someone else does something else well, and never the twain shall meet? I just don't know.
Here's what I saw today:
-Good college players who can't, or won't, pull up and shoot a mid-range jump shot. Instead, they drive into traffic, allowing the defense to collapse and double/triple team them, and then put up a "leaner". Hansbrough can do that leaner, but he shoots from above his head, not waist level. Our guys don't know how to do that.
-An outstanding outside shooting guard who can't, or won't, help bring the ball down the court. Is there any doubt that Meeks is faster than Porter? Can he not dribble the ball at all? While Porter played an outstanding game today, with the exception of not looking to shoot enough, I was holding my breath as he was working one-on-one with a guy who was quicker than he was.
-A "point" guard who made two nice threes (OK, one was a heave), but repeatedly passed up open shots from right on the arc. Wasn't Mike recruited as a shooter? Why won't he look to shoot?
-Perry Stevenson begging with confidence for the ball, then making the three. Then, he made a decent little jumper from the lane, almost apologetically. Finally, when left completely open from the free throw line, he looked everywhere and finally, as a last resort, put up a hesitant shot that missed. The kid can shoot--why isn't he encouraged to shoot more?
-Only one good, solid screen by UK. Naturally enough, it was by our MAN among boys, Patrick Patterson, on the left side to free Meeks for a three. That pick should be shown about 30 times each practice. Most other attempted picks were half-hearted affairs that resulted in exactly no advantage. The pick and roll is still good basic basketball. Why won't players use it?
I guess that last thought is my real problem. Today's players are indisputably quicker, faster, and better athletes than they were several years ago, but many of them simply don't possess enough of the basic skills to provide the versatility that gives opponents fits. As much as I love Perry Stevenson and his great effort level, that baseline drive/charge epitomizes what drives me nuts. Where was the pull-up jumper when he got open? Same goes for Meeks on the fake/high-step/jumpstop in traffic that he got blocked late in the game. His first dribble got him open, with two defenders adjusting. Why not just pull up for the jumper?
Is there a rule that "point" guards can't shoot? That "shooting" guards can't dribble? That good defending forwards can't shoot the J? That nobody can set picks? There must be, because I just don't see that kind of versatility on our team. And it breaks my heart, 'cause while they're getting better, they COULD be GOOD.