Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A solid Meh.

It's always tough to really get a read on a team after their first exhibition game.  It's their first time working together in a true competition, there's a lot of jitters on behalf of the young players, the competition is terrifyingly sub-par, and the coach might be trying out some new shtick.  In short, it's a terrible time to evaluate a team's prospects.   Which is why I'm going to ignore that.  Yes, I'm going to ignore a second unit that looked like it might be the worst in Gopher history (sans Mo Walker and Julian Welch, of course).  I'm going to ignore that a team we were told was a great shooting team not only didn't shoot great, but didn't really look to shoot.  I'm going to ignore some truly atrocious free-throw shooting and I'm going to ignore the fact that they blocked just one shot despite being probably 6 inches taller than Bemidji at ever position (of course, Bemidji's refusal to go inside at all also had something to do with it.)

What I do think you can learn from games like tonight's is tendencies about individual players, so that's what I'm going to focus on with three caveats:

1.  It's early.  I'm not projecting out to the season here, just what I saw tonight.
2.  The competition was terrible.
3.  We left with 9 minutes to go because Snacks and the Old Man are gigantic whiny babies.

So with that said, here's what I noticed tonight in the order that I think of it:

TREVOR MBAKWE:   Very tough to judge him in this kind of game against this kind of team because he's stronger, faster, quicker, and any other adjective you want to use than everybody and anybody on the other team and could score and rebound at will, but he did do a couple of things that standout and bode well for the future.  The first was that he hit a 17-footer in the first half, and the second was that his free-throws looked good with a nice touch and high arch.  If both of those continue (and he doesn't fall in love with the perimeter game which I'm not worried about) he could easily add 5+ points on his per game average.  He's lining up for a monster year, considering there's nobody else to grab rebounds.

RALPH SAMPSON:  Once a tease always a tease?  I have empirical proof that this isn't true, but what about in Ralph's case?  Stop me if you've heard this before:  Sampson, against a team which couldn't match up with him physically, came out full of confidence and aggressiveness and lit 'em up.  Still, he showcased a running hook going right and a step back jumper, both of which would be unblockable against nearly any opponent thanks to his height and wingspan.  Those moves and that aggressiveness combined with his outside touch would make him a real force this year if he keeps it up.  Key part of that sentence being "combined with his outside touch" rather than "abandoning any semblance of an inside game" that we've seen too many times before.  Cautiously optimistic.

ANDRE HOLLINS:  Extremely impressed.  Every time I hear "high-school combo guard" I immediately cringe and prepare for the worst, but Hollins looked like a point guard tonight.  His shooting numbers tonight weren't good by any means, but that seemed to be more of a function of shots not falling rather than being a poor shooter, but I'm more focused on his assists (8) vs. turnovers (0), and more importantly the way he just seemed completely in control of the offense - impressive for a freshman and probably the most impressive part of his night.  He also had no issue pushing tempo and firing the ball ahead in transition, something Tubby has said he wants to integrate into the team more this year.  Very impressed, but I guess that's to be expected considering he's the son of an NBA coach.

AUSTIN HOLLINS:  I actually didn't notice him all that much, but I have a feeling that's the kind of player he's going to be - quiet, not flashy, and then suddenly you read the box score and he put up 13 points with 6 rebs, 5 assists, and 3 steals.  He did hit a very nice elbow jumper curling off a screen and a nice 3-pointer off a kick from the block from I think Mbakwe.  Starting to think he's going to be a very solid player, and him and his cousin are going to be a very solid back court this year.  Unfortunately this is pretty much where the happy fun good news stops.

RODNEY WILLIAMS:  I'm off the bandwagon, folks.  He's now in Year 3 and still not showing anything resembling an offensive game, a jump shot, a perimeter game, ball-handling skills, or any kind of defensive or rebounding presence other than being a freak athlete.  He's still the best athlete on the team and that will get him a couple of highlight plays each night, but his fundamentals are all out of whack, he's completely passive on offense, and his average defensive play is only because his natural ability cancels out his lack of effort and focus.  I just can't do it anymore.  Andy Dufresne lied.  Hope isn't a good thing.  It's a cancer.  At least he made his free throws, so that's something.

JOE COLEMAN:  A lot of struggles tonight, and I don't know how much of that to chalk up to first game jitters.  Despite familial traits I'll chalk up his horrendous free throw shooting to nerves, and I'll even give him the benefit of the doubt on his apparent inability to handle the basketball.  If it was just those two things I'd go ahead and pass off today as a nothing event and wait for next game to get a better handle on him.  Unfortunately, however, I happen to notice things like terrible terrible terrible off-the-ball defense, and Coleman has a big ole case of it.  You watch, by the end of the year he's either going to be straight benchwarmer or have his minutes severely slashed if he doesn't get this figured out.  Do you think he's more of a Missouri Valley guy or a MAC guy?

CHIP ARMELIN:  This guy was one of the most disappointing of the night for me, simply because he seemed neutered.   Chip is not, and should not be, a rotation player.  He is the guy who should either play 4 minutes per game or 20 minutes per game - much like these weirdos who were on TV at the bar before the game who were going for the world's deepest free dive and the world's longest mile-high tightrope - thrive or die.  Here's what you do, you put Chipper in, let him do his crazy, Rico Tucker-lite, undisciplined but highly athletic thing, and if it's working you run with it and if it's a disaster you just sit him down next to whoever that midget was in the suit who kept wiping up sweat tonight.  But tonight's version of Chip was trying to be this respectable, ball-swinging, patient, disciplined player and it was just sad and wrong.  More Deshaun Thomas or Newman from Seinfeld, less boring normal guy like Chris Klein or, I don't know, David Grim?

ELLIOTT ELIASON:  I fear this is more of a Kyle Sanden thing than a Jeff Hagen thing.  I also think I just said his upside is Jeff Hagen.  Prove me wrong, prove me wrong.  There has to be more coordination there than what I saw, right?  Right?

OTO OSENIEKS:   For a guy who is supposed to be a shooter he turned down a couple of open looks.  I don't mean he passed up a wide open three-pointer with nobody on him, but he had some space where a true shooter should have put it up - and maybe I'm comparing him to Blake Hoffarber and that's not fair obviously, but he definitely deferred too much in this game.  Unless that's him, in which case he and his perm aren't going to do this team much good.

MAVERICK AHANMISI:  I didn't notice him at all, and that's a bad thing in this case.

ANDRE INGRAM:  I guess we'll end on a semi-positive note, because Ingram did look pretty athletic and I'm a retard for athletic players so I'm on board here.   He didn't get much time since he was pretty much #11, but he did seem to make a non-negative impact when he was in, other than missing a lay-up which could happen to anybody.  Like I remember when I was playing 6th grade traveling and we were playing Coon Rapids and I took the throw-in to start the second half and bolted towards the hoop and went in for a wide open lay-up and missed it and man, I was stressin'.  But then it turns out I was not only bad but also dumb because I took that pass and went towards the wrong hoop and if I had made that shot it would have been two points for Coony, not us.  So it's good I missed.  This is a fascinating story and totally relevant to Andre Ingram and you know it.

In conclusion, this game was stupid.


Jake P said...

Couple factual issues here: First, Austin is the son of Lionel Hollins, not Andre. Second, they are not related.

For example, see the following:

WWWWWW said...

I'm pretty sure you're wrong.

Ernest Nzigmasabo said...

Jake P. is right, because virtually every game that we were on BTN that Gus Johnson worked last year he would gush about Austin's dad being an NBA coach...and then about Ralph Sampson's dad...then about Tubby...I like Gus during March Madness, but his material during the course of the regular season sucks.

Lionel Hollins Brother aka Andre's dad said...

I guess you are going to try and convince us next that Bryce Harper is not Brian Harper's son. Check yo self Jake P.