Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thoughts from Raleigh

-I had the privilege of getting to see Friday's game from yet a new vantage point: the N.C. State student section. My roommate got tickets from an N.C. State friend and we were able to sneak in with his I.D. While I know that it was a holiday break game, I was mostly unimpressed with State's fans, especially their students. The crowd was pretty silent for most of the game and the N.C. State students in front of us never did figure out that we were Davidson fans. They projected their taunts after the game to the couple sitting in the row behind us. After Curry air-balled his first shot, they yelled "air ball" every time he touched the ball. When he broke the 20-point barrier, one student loudly exclaimed that maybe their strategy was not working. The line of the night came in our pre-game Bojangles tailgate when one of my senior friends said that "just because we're here doesn't mean we should act like idiots."

-The connections that have been forged through Davidson basketball are really quite amazing. I found an old friend that I hadn't seen in years in the arena concourse while the Davidsonian editor from my freshman year ended up sitting right behind me. This basketball team has been the emotional and physical rallying point of Davidson friendships for many years and I hope that it will continue that way.

-Boris Meno has been scrutinized to a T this year for his less-than-stellar performances. Many, including the FSN announcing crew, have already taken their shots at Boris for his 0-5 night from the three-point land. "That's not his shot," goes the outcry. While Meno's three-point percentage is significantly lower this year, most of that does not come from what plagued him on Friday. Against UCLA, Meno took shots off the elbow and in the corner which were not in his license. However, Meno is fully licensed and encouraged to shoot the open three from the top of the key. That shot opens the lane for backcuts and gets taller defenders out of rebounding position. Meno was simply long and off his touch. I was more disappointed in Meno's several missed opportunities right under the basket, when he didn't feel the defense to know when to go up, or when he let simple passes go through his hands. Those are mental mistakes that exams, brutal competition, and expectations have made more common.

-Stephen Curry "looks" like a ball-hog....or an NBA player. It is hard to criticize a guy that consistently scores 20+ and responds to hecklers chanting "air ball" by hitting go-ahead threes in the final minutes...so I won't. Everytime, he steps on the floor, Curry has to decide how to attack without being a ball-hog...how to lead without hurting his team. The line between freedom and responsibility is thinner than ever before. But I'm putting the "Curry" problem on the shoulders of the only man whose shoulders are big enough to handle it: Jason Richards. The fact of the matter is that Stephen Curry can score 30 points every night if he always has the ball in his hands. And yet, his scoring proficiency has not translated into success because it hasn't been supplemented by offensive production and threats elsewhere. Being the undisputed leader of this team, Richards has the responsibility of getting Steph his twenty, pulling down 10-15 for himself and finding those all-important baskets from everyone else that will ultimately put Davidson back in the wins column. I felt like Richards did an excellent job of that in the second half...but once again, it takes a full 40 minutes for Davidson to beat an ACC team.

-The saddest part of watching Davidson so far this year has been seeing what Thomas Sander has gone through. Sander is only averaging 3.5 field goals a game and is shooting 53% from the free throw line. He seems to have lost his defensive discipline at times this year as he has constantly been in foul trouble (he leads the team with 30 fouls and has fouled out twice). Last season, McKillop called Sander the General of the defense because he played relentlessly and was consistently disciplined, always drawing charges and forcing big men into bad shots. This year, he is jumping and reaching for blocks instead playing for the charge or the rebounding position. As we saw against N.C. State, this strategy is failing badly.

4 comments:

ashley said...

i beat out some other people who wanted it and i'm the first to comment. and thanks for the quote. and the bojangles!

lil-mike said...

why didn't you quote me?

DrFrankLives said...

I can't see why meno would have the green light from the top of the key any lnger. It will no longer pull defenders out of the back of the zone, because they are going to let him shoot it.

The only effect of that shot is to pull BORIS out of the interior of the defense into a place where he cannot possibly get position for a rebound.

Tie him to the basket with a 10 foot rope.

Will Bryan said...

That particular shot from a Davidson forward has been a part of the Wildcat offense for several years, dating back to Johnson, Kosmalski, etc. Last year, both Sander and Meno were effective at hitting at one or threes a game from that spot.

I do concede that now, the shot means less because Boris is not only missing it, he's not making anyone guard him. Curry or Richards can go 1-7 from three like they have, but people still guard them. Boris is no longer making defenders do that. I guess I meant for the tenor of the post to be more along the lines of my thoughts on Will Archambault. His shooting has been much worse than normal this season. But he needs to be effective in order for Davidson to win. I also think that Davidson needs to have a forward that can hit a three or two to make them effective. Right now, Meno has received the looks. I wouldn't mind seeing Sander get some looks as well. What I don't believe is that the same strategy should be dumped because the production isn't there right now. Change the number of looks until the production comes back (like we did with Will). Practice with the forwards so that they regain their touch. We have seen them hit threes before.