Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rube Roundtable, Year 3

Every year around this lull in the year, ZipsofAkron from the much smarter than mine blog From the Barn sends some Gopher related questions out to blogger types.  Most years I remember to answer them.  This is one of those years.  My answers are below.  I will post a link to his blog when he compiles all the answers from us nerds.

1) So, uh, we're down to 9 scholarship players and a Kendal Shell. Your thoughts?

Well, it's better than 8 scholarship players and no Kendal Shell.  With or without Diedhiou, they have enough non-horrible players to come up with a playable rotation, even if it means heavier than you'd like minutes for some guys.  The real problem is going to come if there's foul trouble, and you know there will be foul trouble.  There are going to have to be a couple new walk-ons here soon, if only to have the bodies to weather a worst case type scenario.  And walk-ons are always fun in blowouts.  They think they're people.

2) Last year the Gophers won the NIT. What are your expectations this year?

This has already changed three times for me.  At the beginner of the year I was thinking they definitely need to make the NCAA Tournament for this season to be a success.  Then, after the preseason NIT or whatever I thought this team was way too dumb to end up making the tournament and figured the season was heading for a train wreck.  Now, however, Big Ten teams are dropping games left and right - at home - to terrible teams.  I figure if the Big Ten is as down as it seems, and the Gophers are at least mostly taking care of business, they should be able to get to 10 conference wins and, no matter how terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible the non-conference schedule was I can't see a 10 win Big Ten team getting bounced.  Thus, I believe this should be an NCAA Tournament team.  I reserve the right to change this when they get their doors blown off at Purdue.

3) What do you miss most about Maverick Ahanmisi?

The angst he caused.  The twitter meltdowns.  The clueless threads on Gopherhole (turns out I can still find plenty of those on a myriad of other topics).  By the end of his career he had turned himself into a halfway decent, albeit streaky, spot up outside shooter who deserved a chance against zones to see if he was hot.  Should he ever have been allowed to dribble?  No, of course not.  Did he do a lot of really dumb stuff with the basketball?  Yes, almost constantly.  Could he play defense?  Very little.  Wait, what was the question again?  

4) What about Gopher basketball is going to give you an ulcer this year?

Easy answer is Carlos Morris, but when you go the JuCo route a certain amount of chuckery and undisciplined ball is expected so I'll give him a pass and say Joey King, and I don't really want to say Joey King, but it's Joey King.  He clearly works hard.  He's got a really nice shot fake, he's a much better rebounder than he was, he's even developed himself some semblance of a post up game, a far cry from the perimeter offense only type he was when he first arrived.  That's all great, but he just does some horrible things.  Nobody has ever been worse in the open court, ever, and he still likes to put up a really dumb shot at least once or twice a game.  He also constantly uses that shot fake to get his defender of his feet, but then doesn't do anything with that advantage (that alone is enough to give me an ulcer).  Of course there's nothing he can do when he's overpowered or out-athleticked, but the mere fact that's he's basically the team's only option is ulcer-worthy as well.

5) Maryland and Rutgers are real Big Ten members. How do you feel about this from a hoopsball perspective?

I love conference expansion because I love getting a chance to see new teams and players in person, and given the traditional home non-conference schedule for this program that doesn't happen very often.  I still don't understand why they can't schedule home and homes with like, Colorado or Oklahoma State, or Seton Hall or other mid-tier big conference schools, but I digress.

I like seeing new teams.  I don't care about exposure or tv sets in new markets or blah blah blah, but I'm also not wrapped up in "traditional rivalries are being destroyed" or any of that stuff that always sounds like it's being yelled by an old man in a bath robe who is shaking his fist at a newspaper.  New teams are fun.  Maryland is fun.  Rutgers exists.  

6) Real talk. Are we on the up and up or is this just another foray into unmet expectations and mediocrity?

Every time one administration flops and a new coach comes in there is always plenty of blind optimism, and I'm as guilty as anyone.  So far, that optimism hasn't lasted, and there's another flop and the cycle continues.  I'm hoping this one is for real, because I'm hoping Richard Pitino is for real.  Being mentored by Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan is about as good an education as you could ask for, and Pitino (and his staff, can't forget McHale and Kimani) are tireless workers on the recruiting trail.  Their in game schemes, plays, and game plans are inventive and exciting.  Mo Walker's improvement suggests they may be good at player development, which would make this staff 3-for-3 in what you need from a college coach.  Monson was hamstrung by needing to rebuild a shattered program, Tubby was looking to go out in a cushy job where he could half ass it (my perception), but Pitino should be good to go.  So I guess I think we're on the up and up.  I'm so stupid.

7) In the same vein, what does this program need to do to take the next step? 

College basketball, in my opinion, is ruled by recruiting.  A good game coach (game plan and/or in game) can help elevate a team, but the disparity in talent between the top players and the rest is insurmountable by any coach, so that's the key.  Pitino has the team moving in the right direction in this arena, but the rumors of his leaving every off season to take a "better" job are only going to get louder if he continues to build the program up (or hell, as long as he doesn't burn it to the ground).  In order to continue to build their talent and keep creeping up the recruit ladder they need to keep Pitino.  If he is hired away, it's likely because he's had success here so they need to make a hire who can keep that going, although I'm not sure where you can find someone young and hungry enough to take this job and work that hard who is also somewhat of a known commodity based on household name recognition. So I guess the answer is to give him as many blank checks as needed so he never leaves.  Pretty simple. 

Coming soon:  Some baseball talk.  Maybe a live movie blog.

1 comment:

rghrbek said...

Love to hear your thoughts. Rubes are lauding this deal, maybe a little too much.