I don't profess to be the world's greatest basketball mind, nor do I claim to understand in great detail the "modern" game or the DDMO, but it seems to me, watching this UK team all year that there are some things that they have not yet perfected, such as:
- Stuck in the middle-we do not yet have the knack of creating open shots by causing the defense, particularly zones, to contract and expand. When the ball goes into the middle, even when PPat is the guy there, the defense generally has time to collapse and normally doesn't have to worry about a quick kick-out to an open shooter on the elbows. It just doesn't happen much, and the result is that, even with Cousins' quick moves and soft hands, we have lots more shots blocked inside than I see other teams having. Dribbles and fakes take time, and time is the ally of the defense. I guess we are trying too hard to be like NBA teams where the bigs bump and buck each other inside all the time.
- Moving to the open spot. When one of the guards starts to drive or Big Cuz gets the ball inside, some of our players stay in their spots glued to the floor instead of moving to open spots for a possible pass. Now, given the "stuck in the middle" syndrome and the propensity of the guards to force the ball into crowds, this might be understandable, but if you aren't open you certainly aren't going to get that pass.
- Taking the open jumper. We have two people shooting over 40% threes and four over 37%, even after last night. Yet, I saw Bledsoe, Miller, and Dodson passing up what appeared to be open threes/long twos when it appeared we had good inside coverage for an offensive rebound. I don't know if they had been instructed not to shoot or not, but if you're a good shooter, put the darned thing up. I guess, in summary, I think we have become predictable by going inside too much. It lets the defense ignore open shooters and focus on the bigs. Taking a few of those shots will actually help Cuz/Orton/PPat inside.
- Allowing the opposition to shoot. Now, this is not what it sounds like. I don't like giving up open shots. What I mean is that sometimes you have to allow a teammate to defend the shooter and devote your attention to getting the rebound if he misses. Because we are such a good shot-blocking team, we all-too-often, particularly last night, have had more than one guy going after the shooter. The put-backs on Downey missed fall-down shots last night got disgusting.
- Finally, bringing intensity on every play. We did this pretty well against Pelphrey's team, but in most games this year have turned our intensity on and off, depending on whether we felt threatened or not. Trouble was last night, the opposition didn't just wilt when we decided to play hard the last four minutes or so. When we turned it up, so did USC. They won't be the last to do that, so it would behoove our guys to treat every possession like it mattered.
All that said, this team now has the opportunity, with the undefeated monkey off its back, to do some serious work and realize their almost unlimited talent. If they do, they could move from being very good to being outstanding.